Vitamin D – More Than Just for Your Bones!

It seems like everywhere I look, there is a new journal article on Vitamin D. It’s nearly impossible to stay up to date on the literature. To tell you the truth, I don’t try to keep up anymore. I’ve decided a while ago that Vitamin D was a good thing to supplement and, barring crazy high doses, there is very little down side to taking it. I still read articles on Vitamin D when I run across them, but I don’t go out of my way to find them.

Here are some of the reasons I recommend Vitamin D supplementation:

Bone Health – Most people know, and agree, that Vitamin D is vital to your bones so if for no other reason, take it to prevent weak bones in old age – osteoporosis and osteopenia.
Obesity – A little controversy here regarding the chicken and the egg, but most obese patients are Vitamin D deficient, so I recommend supplementation to all my obese patients. One study showed an increase fat loss in patients in a weight loss program taking Vitamin D vs those who weren’t taking it.
Heart Disease – The Framingham Heart Study showed patients with high blood pressure and low vitamin D levels had twice the risk of having a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke).
Keeps You Lean – Vitamin D is essential in maintaining muscle and preventing the development of fat in muscle.
Diabetes – There are a whole host of studies out there showing that Vitamin D is important in the regulation of blood sugar and decreases insulin resistance.
Cancer – Those with Lung, Breast, Colon, or Prostate cancers may benefit in supplementing their treatment regimen with Vitamin D (Just don’t use vitamin D as your ONLY treatment).
Prevention of Multiple Sclerosis – Adequate Vitamin D has been shown to have a protective effect on the development of Multiple Sclerosis. One study showed a 40% decrease risk in women who used supplemental Vitamin D.
Do you need more examples? Improvement in asthma, muscle strength and force, brain health, female and male reproductive health, immune function… the list goes on.

For a multitude of reasons, we don’t make enough Vitamin D (especially those of us up north), and we don’t get enough of it in our diet, so we have to supplement. The extent of Vitamin D deficiency in the population is hard to estimate. One study from Oregon State estimated that 70% of Americans had less than optimal levels of Vitamin D. The recommended daily intake is 5,000 IU (between 7 and 10 cents per day from Walmart) or 35,000 – 50,000 IU twice per week. Can you get too much Vitamin D? Yes, but you would need to take between 600,000 to 1,680,000 IU daily for several days to months to have a problem. Daily levels of 10,000 IU have been shown to be safe.

If you play the odds, you are Vitamin D deficient. Spending about a dime a day seems like cheap insurance against heart attack, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and the other diseases improved with Vitamin D supplementation. So stop on your way home pick up a bottle today.

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