vitamin D levels

  1. Vitamin D use skyrockets in U.S.

    This week, I read that 27 percent of Americans now take vitamin D. That‘s up from 16 percent just last year. And while I‘d like to hear that every American takes 5,000 IU of vitamin D, I‘m glad to hear that at least we‘re making progress.

    Vitamin D is critically important to your health. In fact, recent research suggests that vitamin D affects more than 200 of your genes. Over the years I‘ve written about it plenty as it relates to:

    • Stronger muscles
    • Decreased Parkinson‘s disease risk
    • Stronger immune health
    • Younger bones
    • Lowered risk of type-2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, as well as colon and breast cancer
    • Fewer urinary tract infections
    • Improved digestion
    • Happier moods

    So if you haven‘t yet joined the vitamin D bandwagon, now‘s the time to hop on. Go for up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 (the form of vitamin D most readily absorbed by the body). You can also get vitamin D into your diet by eating more eggs (naturally found in yolks) and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.

    Lastly, make sure to have your vitamin D levels checked with your annual blood work. Ideally, you want your levels between 50-70 ng/mL.

  2. Another missing piece to Parkinsons puzzle

    A few months ago, I told you about two new studies linking Parkinson's disease with a common vitamin deficiency. In both studies, men and women with low levels of B6 in their blood turned out to be about 50 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's disease.

    Well, this month, scientists from Finland found another missing piece to the puzzle. Turns out that vitamin D also plays a huge role in whether or not you develop Parkinson's disease.

    In this major study that spanned 30 years, scientists followed 3,173 Finnish men and women. During that time, 50 patients developed Parkinson's. And lack of vitamin D stood out as a major factor. In fact, men and women with the lowest levels were three times more likely to get sick compared to the group with the highest levels of vitamin D.

    Put another way, men and women who got with plenty of the "sunshine vitamin" over the 30-year-period reduced their risk of developing Parkinson's by an impressive 67 percent.

    Scientists believe that vitamin D is particularly important to the substantia nigra, an area of the brain most affected by Parkinson's disease. This area also contains a high concentration of vitamin D receptors.

    So while there's still no cure for Parkinson's disease, we've now got three major studies showing the important role nutrition plays. The bottom line? Make sure to take a B-complex and D3 supplement every day! Not only will you chop away at your Parkinson's risk, you'll also boost your overall health!

  3. Vitamin D: My Heart Healthy Obsession

    The newscasters can't stop talking about H1N1. I can't stop talking about vitamin D. Such is life. Well, at least my obsession is justifiable. According to one new study, men and women with low vitamin D levels significantly increase their risk of dying from heart disease. How much do they up their risk? You'll have to keep reading to find out. But I'll tell you this, it's not good. Especially when you think about how many of us don't get enough vitamin D. I've seen some studies suggesting as many as 94 percent of adults might be deficient. Disturbing statistics for retirees... Scientists from the University of Colorado and Massachusetts General Hospital teamed up to look at the role vitamin D plays in promoting health and longevity in elderly adults. They collected blood samples from more than 3,400 men and women ages 65 and over. They recorded each of the patients' vitamin D levels. Then they let the patients go about their lives for seven years. In 2000, the scientists checked back in with their patients. Just under half of the men and women had died. And about half of those deaths were due to cardiovascular disease. Hitting the bull's eye...twice! So how did vitamin D deficient patients fare? Not good, I'm afraid. Compared to patients with the most vitamin D, men and women with the lowest levels were three times more likely to die from heart disease. Plus, compared to their healthier counterparts, the deficient men and women were 2.5 times more likely to die from any cause over those seven years. Unfortunately, this study isn't the exception to the rule. It's the norm. In recent years, hundreds of studies have come across my desk showing the importance of vitamin D. In fact, back in August scientists found that low vitamin D doubles a diabetic's risk of suffering from heart disease. The study's lead investigator explained why vitamin D is especially important for your heart: "Vitamin D inhibits the uptake of cholesterol by cells called macrophages. When people are deficient in vitamin D, the macrophage cells eat more cholesterol, and they can't get rid of it. The macrophages get clogged with cholesterol and become what scientists call foam cells, which are one of the earliest markers of atherosclerosis." Getting to the heart of the issue... Yes, vitamin D is critical to maintaining optimal heart health. And if you don't get enough, you may cut your life short. Dr. Adit Ginde from the University of Colorado explains why: "It's likely that more than one-third of older adults now have vitamin D levels associated with higher risks of death and few have levels associated with optimum survival. Given the aging population and the simplicity of increasing a person's level of vitamin D, a small improvement in death rates could have a substantial impact on public health." Translation? Very few of us get enough vitamin D. Even fewer adults get enough to support good health into their 80s, 90s, and 100s. (That's how long we can and should live.) But it's really, really easy to get more vitamin D. Just go out in the sun for 20 minutes! Or take a vitamin D supplement. Something so simple to fix! Here's the bottom line: Most of us don't get enough vitamin D. How much do we really need? Well, that depends on who you ask. But don't assume that you're safe if you're simply getting your daily recommended allowance. Even our friends from the University of Colorado admit the RDA is too low to maintain optimal health. For anyone not getting out in the sun much, I recommend taking 2000 IUs of vitamin D daily. In winter months, go for 4000 IUs daily. Remember, sitting in the sun for 30 minutes gives you 10,000 IUs or more of vitamin D. So there's little risk of reaching an upper limit with this supplement. You can also get vitamin D into your diet by eating more eggs (naturally found in yolks), liver, and fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and sardines). Also, if you think you are vitamin D deficient, ask your doctor to test your blood serum levels. Ideally, you'll want levels between 50-70 ng/mL. In closing, when you think about retiring...definitely consider setting up shop in a sunny state! Your heart will thank you.

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