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The Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic

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I have been conducting research in the field of vitamin D for almost 40 years. My laboratory helped establish the importance of sun exposure to the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D. We also worked to determine how latitude, the seasons, aging, skin pigmentation and the use of sunscreen all affect this vital process.

Vitamin D is critically important not only for bone health, but it is also now being recognized as an important nutrient to prevent many chronic diseases including common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and heart disease. In this and forthcoming articles, I will provide you with the rationale for why vitamin D has all of its health benefits, as well as report on the most up-to-date information on vitamin D and health.

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common medical conditions world-wide. It’s been estimated that more than half of all children and adults in the U. S. and Europe are at risk. Vitamin D deficiency can set the stage for osteoporosis and increase the risk of fracture once the condition has developed. It’s also associated with muscle weakness and increased risk for falls. In addition, vitamin D deficiency prevents calcium deposition in bones (a condition known as osteomalacia or adult rickets) and can increase the risk of fracture and cause aching, throbbing bone pain. People who complain of aching muscles and bone pain are often misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome or, simply depression. From my experience, more than half of patients complaining of nonspecific aches and pains in their bones and muscles are vitamin D deficient. Correction of their vitamin D deficiency usually results not only in improved muscle strength and decreased achiness, but also improved mood and overall feelings of well-being.

The only way to know whether you are getting enough vitamin D is to have your doctor measure your blood for 25-hydroxyvitamin D, the circulating form. Most experts, including myself, believe that a blood level of less than 20 ng/ml indicates vitamin D deficiency. However, to obtain the full health benefits of vitamin D, I recommend maintaining a blood level of greater than 30 ng/ml. Levels of up to 100 ng/ml are safe and not associated with toxicity. However, patients who suffer from the rare disease sarcoidosis should discuss this with their doctor, since increasing blood level above 30 ng/ml can cause them to have excessively high blood calcium. For details, please visit my web site (VitaminDHealth.org), where there is a wealth of information on vitamin D.

I recommend that all adults and children over the age of one year ingest 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. My family members and I take 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily along with a multi-vitamin that contains 400 IU of vitamin D. In addition, I cycle on the weekends, garden, play tennis and get a sensible amount of sun exposure—typically 15 to 30 minutes on my arms and legs two to three times a week between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm. I wear sun protection on my face, since it is the most sun-exposed, and most likely to be damaged by excessive exposure to sunlight.

In the coming months, I will provide you with guidance on how to treat and prevent vitamin D deficiency.  I’ll also review recent reports that increasing your vitamin D intake may reduce your risk of developing cancer, and of having a heart attack or stroke.

The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: The scientific literature is compelling regarding vitamin D as being an important nutrient for overall health and well-being. There is no downside to increasing your vitamin D intake by at least 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily.

QUICK TIP: According to Jean Carper, vitamin D may help prevent cancer. Learn More

Written exclusively for Stop Aging Now, the authority on anti-aging research, anti-aging nutrition, and anti-aging supplements.

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28 responses to “The Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic”

  1. […] D became an interest of mine when my physician told me my levels were too low. Now, news of a vitamin D deficiency epidemic is topping the charts, and health experts are growing keen to the widespread need for more vitamin […]

  2. […] accounts of health transformation circulating on the web, it now truly seems that the impact of the vitamin D deficiency epidemic is beginning to enter public […]

  3. […] found that the odds of mental decline are about 42% higher in Americans 65 and older who are deficient in vitamin D, and 394% higher in those who are severely deficient. // […]

  4. […] D3 group, compared to 19% in the placebo group, said the researchers. And if the children had low levels of vitamin D to begin with, they experienced more benefit as their flu incidence was reduced by 74%. What’s […]

  5. […] to sunlight. But as skin cancer became a concern, and more people started staying indoors more, our vitamin D levels declined. More and more research began to reveal that sun exposure doesn’t provide enough vitamin D to […]

  6. […] due to compromised vitamin D absorption and reduced UV ray exposure, many children and adults have dangerously low vitamin D levels which could lead to osteoporosis and hormonal problems among other things. The future implications […]

  7. […] The vitamin D3 has been increased from 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU based on clinical research findings that show a majority of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D. […]

  8. […] during the short days of winter. Supplement with 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D3, cholecalciferol. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk for […]

  9. […] at his hospital, Dr. Lane found that almost 50% of patients undergoing orthopedic surgery had frank vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/mL) and many more had insufficient amounts (less than 32 ng/mL.) The problem was […]

  10. […] D screening and supplementation. There is still a large percentage of the population that will test deficient, even with the new standards. And they will need doses of vitamin D higher than 600 IU/day to […]

  11. […] Vitamin D deficiency has been linked in hundreds of scientific studies to health problems including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cognitive decline, depression, chronic pain and low immunity, to name just a few. Recent studies have also suggested that the number of Americans who are deficient in this essential nutrient is nearing epidemic proportions. In fact, the research has been so compelling, that it has ignited a vitamin D advocacy movement, led by such organizations as the Vitamin D Council and GrassrootsHealth, aimed at raising awareness of the growing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the risks it poses to health. […]

  12. […] D, which many vitamin D experts have agreed will do nothing to address the growing prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. The new recommended daily intake is set at 600 IU, up from 400 IU, despite most experts […]

  13. Ruthkubly says:

    I am following all the inconsistent information re: Vit D. Not too long ago, 5000 units was suggested. Now that latest is that could be too much and 2000 would be better and that 1000 plus
    400 from a vitamin is good along with natural sun exposure. That is fine for people living in the
    southern or western states, but how do we in the north and midwest to get that during our long, greywinter months, which we are now in?

    • Casie says:

      Hi, and thanks for writing to us!
      It is frustrating, especially since there is conflicting advice regarding the recommended dosages of vitamin D needed to maintain adequate levels. As we age, our ability to produce vitamin D is reduced while, simultaneously, our sun exposure tends to be more limited. So, it’s even more important for people over the age of 65 to ensure proper vitamin D supplementation. Naturopathic Physician, Keven Passero, wrote an article with some helpful tips after the new recommendations were released in December, it might be a good read for you, http://www.liveinthenow.com/article/new-vitamin-d-recommendations-what-you-need-to-know
      I would say 2000 IU a day is a great start and that can be a combination of vitamin D sourced from a stand-alone supplement, vitamin D in a multivitamin and/or vitamin D sourced from fortified foods and sun exposure. If you end up obtaining a little more, especially in the winter months, all the better. Something like a liquid vitamin D may be beneficial too since you can regulate any small amount you’d like to get in addition to a vitamin supplement.

  14. […] a childhood disease associated with vitamin D deficiency that causes poor bone development and other health problems, was once considered nearly eradicated […]

  15. […] For years, conventional medical wisdom had it that the best way to prevent skin cancer was to avoid exposing your skin to the sun as much as possible, and to slather yourself with sunscreen whenever you should plan to spend time outside in the sunshine. But now, all that has changed — at least, from the perspective of a growing number of experts who believe that our lack of sun exposure and excessive use of sunscreens are to blame for the vitamin D deficiency epidemic. […]

  16. […] has implicated the lack of exposure to sunlight afforded by the typical modern lifestyle in widespread vitamin D deficiency and its associated health problems, and it seems that our tendency to avoid direct physical contact […]

  17. […] studies link vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. An exciting new study shows how vitamin D protects […]

  18. […] single most important thing you can do to avoid getting the flu, save for maybe washing your hands. Vitamin D deficiency is now considered pandemic and worsens in the fall and winter months in the Northern hemisphere […]

  19. […] single most important thing you can do to avoid getting the flu, save for maybe washing your hands. Vitamin D deficiency is now considered pandemic and worsens in the fall and winter months in the Northern hemisphere […]

  20. […] won’t hear about results that show increasing vitamin D intake or other essential nutrients can significantly lower your risk for developing chronic disease. The […]

  21. […] buildup of the sticky protein clusters around the neuronal synapses. Scientists have observed that vitamin D levels are typically low in aging adults when diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and can now make the connection […]

  22. […] vitamin D deficiency, and is estimated to be causing 85,000 excess cancer deaths a year in the U.S. Vitamin D deficiency also contributes to obesity (see Adequate Vitamin D Levels May Aid Weight Loss in Obese Patients), […]

  23. […] evidence has been mounting to show that the vast majorities of adults (and many children) are grossly deficient in circulating blood levels of vitamin D. Further proof is documented in the PLoS One journal to […]

  24. […] to share this amazing offer with you! In an effort to encourage vitamin D intake and end the vitamin D deficiency epidemic, SAN is offering an entire year’s supply of vitamin D3 for just $25. You can chose from 1,000 […]

  25. […] TweetEmail While the efficacy of bone building drugs remain in question, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered one potential secret of maximizing the bone-building power of osteoporosis drugs (i.e., bisphosphonates): Make sure you’re not deficient in vitamin D! […]

  26. […] a very detailed analysis, scientists show that low blood circulating levels of vitamin D do not adequately inhibit the inflammatory cascade necessary to turn off this potentially […]

  27. […] Research has implicated the lack of exposure to sunlight that is part of our modern lifestyle in widespread vitamin D deficiency and its associated health problems. Similarly, it seems that our tendency to avoid direct physical […]