Vitamin D and Disease Prevention

Well, its summer time again and once again we need to talk about the most important vitamin known to man. Specifically, I am talking about Vitamin D3 – or cholecalciferol. It is one of the most useful nutritional tools we have at our disposal for improving overall health. Doctor Mercola has talked about it many times before and points out that it has hormone-like actions and controls phosphorus, calcium, and bone metabolism, neuromuscular function and an estimated 2,000 endocrine processes. Vitamin D3 is the only vitamin that our bodies can manufacture from exposure to sunlight. Having said that, the fact still remains that those of us who live north of the 35th parallel (Boston) are probably deficient in D3. To make matters worse, because of concern about skin cancer, many of us avoid the sun or use sunscreen. As a result, we are a society with millions of individuals deficient in life-sustaining vitamin D3.

Modern research shows that Vitamin D3 deficiency is linked to a number of other health conditions such as depression, cancer, back pain, dysfunctional glucose metabolism, a range of pregnancy issues, impaired immunity and macular degeneration. Those most at risk for D3 deficiency are anyone living north of the 35th parallel, dark skinned people, and fat people. Those demographics are scary indeed! That means a whole lot of folks are in trouble.

The fear of skin cancer stops most individuals from obtaining beneficial amounts of sunlight, which the skin converts into vitamin D3. And as we pointed out, even those individuals who do venture out into the sun often use suntan to ensure deficiency in vitamin D3. In addition, advancing age plays a strong role in the process as well. We are less equipped to produce sufficient quantities of vitamin D3 as we get older. In 2010, studies are beginning to come in that find age-related declines in kidney function may require older people to ingest more vitamin D3 in order to maintain stable blood levels of D3.

Most doctors now agree that the recommended daily intake is not sufficient for individuals to maintain adequate D3 blood levels. You will find that most good doctors are now recommending increased D3 supplementation.

Current recommendations from the Institute of Medicine call for 200 IU/day from birth through age 50 years, 400 IU for those aged 51-70 years, and 600 IU for those aged >70 years. Most experts today say that optimal amounts are closer to 1,000 IU daily. Some go as far as to recommend 8,000 IU per day. I know that my wife’s own doctor has had my wife on 8,000 IU per day for the past two years.

We can take all of the supplements we want, but if bioavailability is an issue, then we have a compound problem. It is one thing to pour the nutrients down your throat, but if you are not adequately hydrated, then much of it is going to come straight out of the other end! In order to increase your nutrient uptake, you must be properly hydrated. Nearly 80% of the North American population is not adequately hydrated. Is it any wonder we suffer so many disease related issues?

When examining the medical literature, it becomes clear that vitamin D3 affects the health in an astonishing number of ways and that not obtaining enough of this important nutrient can leave the door open to developing a number of health conditions including depression, back pain, osteopenia, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, bone fractures, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive impairment, blood pressure and cancer.

For those of you old enough to remember the 60s and 70s, you will know that almost everything we thought was right, was actually wrong! I once quipped that life appears to be a paradox. If you want more, give more… not less. If you don’t like what you are getting, then stop doing what you are doing! Check out the science of hydration. Find out all you can about alkaline water and pH diets. From there you can build upon a strong foundation for future wellness.


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