It seems I just can’t say enough about the great and powerful vitamin D. A constant torrent of new research shows vitamin D is essential for health and helps prevent many diseases. But most people don’t have optimal levels. And mainstream medicine focuses only on its role in maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis.
Thankfully, some clear-thinking scientists and physicians are beginning to put together the puzzle pieces when it comes to low vitamin D and increased risk for developing other chronic diseases. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that five major diseases, beyond osteoporosis, have important links to vitamin D.
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Research published in the journal Neurology this year found that moderate-to-severe vitamin D deficiency in older adults may double the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The study followed more than 1,600 adults ages 65 or older. Patients with “low” vitamin D had a 53 to 70 percent increased risk of developing AD or dementia.
People with a “severe deficiency” had a 120 to 125 percent greater risk of developing AD or another form of dementia. You can learn more about this shocking study in this month’s issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.
According to a study published this year in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, men and women who are vitamin D deficient have double the risk of developing this major mental disorder. This analysis reviewed 19 studies that had gathered observational data on this difficult mental health condition.
- Prostate cancer
In a new study published in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers found a clear link between low vitamin D levels and neoplastic prostate cancer. This form of prostate cancer is aggressive and “real.”
Most prostate “cancers” don’t metastasize during a man’s lifetime. Nor do they cause death. But neoplastic prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men. And it looks like you can cut your risk by simply raising your vitamin D levels.
- ED (erectile dysfunction)
Men can’t seem to get away from the relentless promotion of dangerous drugs for ED (erectile dysfunction). But a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that men with serious ED had significantly lower vitamin D levels.
While some ED is a semi-imaginary, quasi-medical condition stimulated by drug company promotions, it can also result from truly serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or prostate cancer. Vitamin D may improve serious ED simply because it targets these other medical problems.
- Heart disease
Researchers now link low vitamin D with the most common health problem among men and postmenopausal women–heart disease.
According to this year’s annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology, men and women with a vitamin D deficiency have more severe heart disease. In fact, researchers found that more than 70 percent of patients who had imaging studies for blocked coronary arteries were vitamin D deficient.
Of course, considering the high frequency of these invasive heart procedures, and how common it is to have vitamin D deficiency, we need more definitive research. But that would require cardiologists to tear themselves away from their obsession with cholesterol and questionable statin drugs. (I’ll tell you more about the futility of current cardiology practice next month.)
Well-known studies also link low vitamin D to many forms of cancer, fibromyalgia-chronic fatigue syndrome, hypertension, osteoporosis, and multiple sclerosis.
Although you can obtain some vitamin D from food sources such as milk, cheese, and fatty fish (including tuna, salmon and mackerel), it’s difficult to get optimal levels from diet alone. And you’ll need to set aside some questionable government recommendations and vegan restrictions if you want to keep your vitamin D levels optimal.
You can also take a high-quality supplement.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend most people get about 600 IU of vitamin D daily. But you shouldn’t rely on the NIH for recommendations on dietary and nutritional supplementation. I believe that current research shows you actually need 5,000 IU per day of vitamin D as a dietary supplement.
And remember, at this time of the year, most parts of the country have just “gone dark.” The sun no longer gets high enough in the sky to activate vitamin D in your skin. So until next spring, you have to be especially careful to get enough vitamin D.
Always on the side of science,
Marc S. Micozzi, M.D., Ph.D.
- “Vitamin D and chronic disease prevention,” BMJ 2014; 348: g2280