Being vitamin D deficient has been associated with increased risk of developing and dying from cancers of the colon, prostate, breast and esophagus, among others. Vitamin D deficiency also increases your risk for several autoimmune diseases including type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Heart disease has also been associated with vitamin D deficiency. With all of these studies demonstrating the protective effects of vitamin D on health, a question arises. If increasing your vitamin D intake can reduce your risk for these serious chronic illnesses, can it also reduce your risk of dying?
During the past year, studies have suggested that not only does vitamin D deficiency increase your risk of dying from heart disease, it also increases your risk of dying from all causes. As part of the 3rd National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), over 13,000 adults aged 20 years and older were studied to determine their blood level of 25(OH)D (the measure for their vitamin D status) and their cause of death. It was observed that men and women who were severely vitamin D deficient with blood level of 25(OH)D of less than 18 ng/ml were at the highest risk of dying from cancer and cardiovascular disease. Greater amounts of physical activity, not being in the winter season and supplementation with vitamin D were all associated with a reduced likelihood of dying of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The conclusion of this study was that within the general U.S. population, a person with a 25(OH)D level of less than 18 ng/ml had a 26% higher risk of dying. This conclusion has been substantiated with the observation that of 18 independent, randomized control trials that included over 57,000 participants, an average daily vitamin D intake of 528 IU reduced the relative risk of dying of all causes by 7%.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Based on this and other research, I recommend that both children and adults take at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D a day as a supplement. This is in addition to having adequate sensible sun exposure. You can obtain more information about vitamin D on my web site at VitaminDHealth.org.