Research implicates vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in at least 17 types of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, and more.
- Insufficient and deficient levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome by 52%.
- Daily supplements of 400 IUs or more of vitamin D may cut the risk of fractures by up to 20 percent.
- A study of 13,000 initially healthy men and women found an 80 percent increased risk of peripheral artery disease from vitamin D deficits.
- According to the Framingham Heart Study, patients with vitamin D levels below 15 nanograms per milliliter were twice as likely to experience a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event within the next five years compared with those with higher levels.
- The latest research says the current recommended daily allowance of 200-400 IUs of vitamin D is far too low. Some experts advise adults should take at least 800-1000 IUs daily of supplemental vitamin D.
- The U.S. and Canadian governments are reviewing research into the protective effects of vitamin D and calcium, and may recommend a higher intake of vitamin D.
Are You in a D Deficit?
With summer sunshine comes your chance to shore up your supply of vitamin D — for free.
This vitamin is created when the body absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) B rays. The vitamin’s first priority is to regulate calcium and store it in our bones. After that, it offers the body many other benefits.
Unfortunately, a large percentage of people are deficient in vitamin D. In the United States alone, 77 percent of people have insufficient levels. And that can lead to a host of health problems including osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even the flu.
SPF Dilutes D
Our diligent use of sunscreen and avoidance of the sun may be partly to blame for our vitamin D deficits. An SPF 15 sunscreen reduces your body’s production of vitamin D by 99 percent. Overcast skies and smog further reduce ultraviolet energy and as a result, vitamin D production. Living in northern climates also limits your vitamin D production, especially in the winter.
No one is advising spending hours in the sun or regularly frequenting tanning beds, since those can increase skin cancer risk. But a compromise is in order: a combination of sun, food and supplements. Just 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week in the spring and summer will help increase your vitamin D production. The skin produces approximately 10,000 IUs of vitamin D after 20-30 minutes of summer sun exposure. In comparison, a glass of milk has just 100 IUs.
In addition, you should eat more foods with vitamin D such as salmon or tuna (and cod liver oil — if you can stomach it!), along with fortified milk and cereals. However, these foods alone don’t contain enough vitamin D to offer the benefits found in research. Most experts recommend supplements to help you reach the goal of at least 800-1000 IUs of daily vitamin D for maximum benefits. In the winter, when it’s nearly impossible to get enough direct sunlight, it’s even more critical to supplement with vitamin D.
Add Vitamin D for Flu Defense
Sunshine may be the foundation in the fight against colds and flu. A recent study shows vitamin D, which the body creates in response to the sun’s rays, boosts immunity.
Ever wonder why people get sicker in the winter with colds and flu, while these illnesses are rare in the summer? It may just be due to the amount of sun we receive and our corresponding vitamin D levels. A study of 19,000 people showed those with the lowest levels of vitamin D were about 40 percent more likely to have had a recent respiratory infection.
Vitamin D kicks into gear an army of anti-microbial peptides, our body’s natural antibiotics, that destroy invading microorganisms. These anti-microbials possess antiviral activity and have been shown to inactivate the influenza virus. The cells lining the respiratory tract also secrete these anti-microbial peptides and help protect the lungs from infection. Without enough vitamin D, these cells are not as effective in killing bacteria and viruses.
With swine flu (H1N1 virus) currently lurking in the background, it may be more important than ever to boost your vitamin D intake and soak in a little sun to boost your body’s infection-fighting power.
Relìv nutritional products give you a jump on vitamin D intake, as well. For example, one Reliv Classic® shake contains 400 IUs of vitamin D. So just two shakes a day puts you in optimum range for fighting disease.
New Respect for Super ‘D’
We’ve been adding it to milk for years to help calcium absorption. Now vitamin D is finally being recognized as a superstar in its own right. A wealth of ongoing research is pointing to a wide array of benefits that go far beyond helping to build stronger bones and teeth.
Vitamin D plays an active role in boosting immunity, enhancing cell differentiation, and preventing a wide range of diseases. Its antioxidant properties also help reduce the signs of premature skin aging, and as a result, we’re now seeing vitamin D added to skincare products. Vitamin D also improves neurotransmitter function, and has been used to ease symptoms in patients with depression and schizophrenia.
In short, vitamin D just might be one of the most important “forgotten” nutrients of our time. With D deficiency on the rise, governmental experts are reviewing the latest research with an eye toward upping the recommended daily intake of vitamin D for all ages. In the meantime, just two Relìv shakes a day will help ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D to meet your body’s daily needs.
To Your Health,
Dr. Carl W. Hastings, Reliv Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer