Vitamin D, The Forgotten Hormone

I have just returned from the annual anti-aging and regenerative medicine conference in Orlando and I am pretty sure I will probably not make it to be 42. 41 I think I will make but only because it is only a couple weeks away. Seriously, if you want to get humbled in terms of what you are doing currently for your health, sit through a few days of lectures on the cutting edge of medicine known as anti-aging medicine and you will realize it might just be too late for you to fix the cesspool that is your health because of the way you have been living.

The good news is I have lots great information to share about the latest information that will help improve your health and longevity. There has been a great buzz about Vitamin D over the last few years and it seems there is plenty of research that supports the buzz.

An article in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that the majority of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D and those deficits are suspected to be the cause of  many disease and illness from Cancer and Diabetes to heart and kidney disease. The main reason for this deficiency is our diet but another is the increased use of sunscreen which blocks the body’s natural production of Vitamin D that occurs when sunlight hits our skin.

A recent study out of the Moores Cancer Center at The University of California San Diego suggests that raising the minimum Vitamin D levels to a certain level would prevent an estimated 58,000 cases of breast cancer and 49,000 cases of colon cancer each year and prevent ¾ of the deaths from these diseases each year in the US and Canada.

Most of us think of bone health when it comes to vitamin D but there is so much more that this nutrient does in our bodies. Vitamin D is actually a pro hormone, meaning the body turns it into a hormone which has many functions in the body. It is necessary for proper calcium regulation in the intestines, kidney and bone, proper thyroid function, and is a vital nutrient in immune function of the body.

The RDA for vitamin D is 400 IU but with most RDAs, that is the minimal amount to prevent disease, namely Rickets, a disease of brittle bones that occurs in extreme vitamin D deficiency. Research presented at the conference I attended suggests (and many of the physician’s I spoke to at the conference are using) levels in the range of 5,000 IU a day for standard supplementation and as much as 10,000 IU a day for chronic conditions ranging from chronic lung disease to fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. One researcher suggested using 40,000 IU for 3 days at the onset of a cold or flu to suppress these acute illnesses quickly. There are also some developing theories on low vitamin D levels as a cause of seasonal flu because of the low vitamin D levels that occur in the winter with less sunlight exposure.

If you want to check your levels you do so by a simple blood test called 25(OH)D.   You should check your levels along with consulting with your physician before starting Vitamin D supplementation above and beyond the typical recommendations of 800 IU daily as there can be toxicity with taking to much of anything vitamin, especially fat soluble ones like Vitamin D. If you do take a supplement, make sure you are supplementing with Vitamin D3 which is cholecalciferol and not D2 which is ergocalciferol which some multivitamins contain. D3 is much more potent.  On a personal note, there are new claims that come out almost daily on the benefits of certain supplements but the research I have seen on Vitamin D leads me to believe that it is the real deal in terms of benefits and should be on the list of supplements you should consider.

We will begin carrying a new product made by Nordic Naturals in our office this week which combines Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D3 in the same supplement. If you have read my prior blogs you know how important Omega 3s are so this is a great 2-for-1 supplement. Much more useful information is on the way in the coming weeks so check back frequently.

Until next time, Stay healthy and live well. Dr. Mike

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Dr. Michael Heim

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