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July 16, 2014 • Healthy Living

Vitamin D for Life

pill on forkAlthough controversy still exists in terms of optimal supplemental dosages of vitamin D, the evidence is now clear that having low blood levels of this all-important nutrient is associated with a higher risk of premature death. In a large scale new analysis that pooled the data from 32 formerly published studies, researchers found a clear and consistent link between higher death risk and lower blood levels of vitamin D. The analysis included over half a million adults with an average age of 55. Study participants with lower blood levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to die prematurely vs. those with higher levels. Even more alarming, about half of the study subjects who showed a greater death risk had blood levels of vitamin D around 30 ng/ml. This is considered the “low” end of normal by current standards, and about two thirds of American adults have levels below this.

Vitamin D plays an instrumental role in all aspects of human health, particularly heart health, brain health, bone health, immune health, and modulating the body’s inflammation status. I think it is best for everyone age 50 and older, and anyone of any age who has any type of chronic disease, including mental illness to get their vitamin D level checked yearly.

Here is my best advice for achieving and maintaining a healthy blood level:

  • Get regular prudent, SAFE sun exposure. Even a few minutes a day with arms and /or legs exposed in warmer months will suffice.
  • Regularly consume foods containing vitamin D—oily fish like salmon (richest source), fortified dairy products and cereals, eggs, and shitake mushrooms.
  • Take 2000 iu’s of vitamin D3 daily OR as directed by your healthcare provider based on your blood level. Some people will require higher dosages.
  • Based on the reports I have reviewed, a blood level between 40 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml is a good target range.

American Journal of Public Health, 2014 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302034