Vitamin D deficiency is pandemic in the United States, but many Americans, including physicians, are not aware that they may be lacking this important nutrient.
Dr. Mercola’s One Hour FREE Vitamin D Lecture to Clear Up All Your Confusion on this Vital Nutrient
This video may simply be one of the most important videos for you and your family’s health this year. I urge you to find some quality time this holiday season to view it so you can understand the nearly unbelievable benefits you will receive by understanding this vital nutrient.
Dr. Mercola’s Comments:
I honestly believe that this is one of the MOST important videos I have ever created and I have done hundreds of them. For those of you who prefer to read your information, rather than watch it, I’ve summed up some of the most important points below. But, again, please do take the time to watch the video lecture, as it has all the highly valuable details you need to know about vitamin D.
The Role of Vitamin D in Your Body
There are only 30,000 genes in your body and vitamin D has been shown to influence over 2,000 of them. That is one of the primary reasons it influences so many diseases, from cancer and autism to heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths — which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States — could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.
Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:
- Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
- Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
- Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
- Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous
Beyond cancer, the researchers pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year! And other studies showed that you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.
Vitamin D even fights colds and the flu, as it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses. In fact, it is very rare for someone with optimized vitamin D levels to come down with the flu.
Many are Deficient
In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is considered a very serious deficiency state. Meanwhile, it’s thought that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the American public. Further:
- Vitamin D deficiency is epidemic in adults of all ages who have increased skin pigmentation, such as those whose ancestors are from Africa, the Middle East, or India, who always wear sun protection, or who limit their outdoor activities.
- African Americans and other dark-skinned people and those living in northern latitudes make significantly less vitamin D than other groups.
- 60 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have vitamin D deficiency.
- Studies showed very low levels of vitamin D among children, the elderly, and women.
- One U.S. study of women revealed that almost half of African American women of childbearing age might be vitamin-D deficient.
How to Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
The ideal way to get vitamin D is by exposing your skin to appropriate sunlight. Unfortunately for most of us there simply isn’t enough sun exposure for nearly half of the year. However, even in the sun many of us are modern day cavemen and we spend the majority of the time the sun is out shining inside at work or in our home. Not many of us are regularly out in the sun.
Sun exposure (without sunscreen) of about 10 to 15 minutes a day, with at least 40 percent of your skin exposed, is a general guide of how much you need, although people with dark skin will need to stay out significantly longer.
Again, most of us struggle with seasonal vitamin D winters in which we may not be able to get enough sun exposure during certain parts of the year. In that case, I also advise using a safe tanning bed (one that has the harmful emissions shielded) to have your own body produce vitamin D naturally.
It is important to understand that in the summertime, when you put on your bathing suit and sunbathe for 30 minutes, your body produces about 20,000 IUs of vitamin D — as much as exists in 200 glasses of milk, or the equivalent of about 50 typical multivitamins!
This is not all multivitamins, however, as the one I formulated and sell on the site has no vitamin D. You might think that is odd since I am promoting how valuable it is. The reason I made it that way is that the dose of vitamin D is simply too variable to be accurate for a large group of people. Some may need 10,000 units of vitamin D a day and even up to 50,000 units a day for short periods, while others may do fine on none if they have adequate sun exposure.
So rather than risk seriously overdosing or underdosing people on this crucial nutrient there is no vitamin D in it. As far as I know it is the only multivitamin on the market with no vitamin D.
Crucial Information About Vitamin D Testing that You NEED to Know
A third option is taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement. The most important thing to keep in mind if you opt for oral supplementation is that you only want to supplement with natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is human vitamin D. Do NOT use the synthetic and highly inferior vitamin D2.
This is typically prescribed by many well intentioned doctors who seek to take advantage of a patient’s prescription coverage. Unfortunately this form is FAR more expensive than the real vitamin D3, which is one of the least expensive vitamins we have. But more importantly it does not work nearly as well as D3 and can actually block the real D3 from working properly.
Bottom line: ONLY use vitamin D3 when supplementing.
For those in the winter with no or very limited exposure to sunshine, 4,000-5,000 units per day is appropriate for most adults. If you are very heavy you may need to double that dose, and for children the dose can be half that.
The key, though, is to make sure you monitor your vitamin D levels by blood testing, to make sure your levels are therapeutic and not toxic.
I advocate getting your vitamin D levels tested regularly, but as I reported recently, you now need to beware of where you’re getting your test done. For an in-depth explanation of what you MUST know before you get tested, please read my updated article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.
If you are in the U.S. the primary lab you want to use is Lab Corp. As I’ve mentioned previously, Quest Labs has shown some violations in their Vitamin D testing – and therefore I no longer recommend them.
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