New research is revealing connections between vitamin D deficiency and a myriad
of health concerns, including cancer, depression, osteoporosis, immune dysfunction,
diabetes, heart disease, and more. In fact, mounting research documents the impressive
degree of disease prevention that can be obtained from higher vitamin D blood levels.
Thankfully, more and more conventional practitioners are testing vitamin D levels
in their patients these days. Since there are several forms of D, be sure you request
evaluation of 25[OH]D, which is short-hand for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
This is the test that accurately detects vitamin D status. The normal range varies
from lab to lab, and protocols used in some labs may be less accurate than others.
The issue for many people is that long-term effects of vitamin D deficiency may
not be visible for many, many years, so it’s easy to overlook — for
both patients and practitioners. But if you’re serious about disease prevention
and fracture prevention, we recommend vitamin D level testing twice a year, at the
end of the summer and mid-winter. The National Institutes of Health sets the normal
vitamin D range at 16–74 ng/mL, but leading vitamin D experts are calling for the
low end of this range to be moved upward. Here are the levels we strive for:
- For basic bone protection and optimum calcium absorption you need at least a 32
ng/mL vitamin D (25[OH]D) level all year round.
- For degenerative disease prevention, a higher level of 50-70 ng/mL is better.
Studies have shown a 60-77% reduction in cancer risk with vitamin D supplementation
and research suggests that hip fracture could be reduced by 50-60% by bringing vitamin
D blood levels into the therapeutic range.
Research is showing that we use between 3000 and 4000 IU of vitamin D daily —
much more than previously expected. So how do we replenish these stores? Nature
intended us to get most of our vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Studies show
that bathing suit exposure during summer, until the skin just begins to turn pink,
results in skin production of 10,000–50,000 IU of cholecalciferol (pre-vitamin D).
It’s difficult in our modern society to spend enough time in the sun to fill
our vitamin D stores (especially if you live in northern latitudes). And vitamin
D is also not found in very many foods. So a quality vitamin D3 supplement is one
of the best ways to cover your disease-prevention bases.
Currently vitamin D researchers are suggesting supplementing with 2000 IU of D3
daily along with 15 minutes of sunlight. For details on this current recommendation
see the Scientists’ Call to Action published
by Grassroots Health, a Public Health Promotion Organization. For addition in-depth
discussion, see our articles on vitamin D deficiency
and vitamin D testing and treatment.
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