Vitamin D has become the darling supplement in alternative and conventional health circles alike—and with good reason. Research on its benefits continues to mount, with studies showing that this nutrient can prevent or reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure,1 neurodegenerative diseases (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s),2 precancerous colon polyps,3 breast cancer,4 fibromyalgia symptoms,5 depression,6 diabetes7 and obesity,8 and that’s just the beginning!
And now, recently published research indicates that low levels of D can pose a health threat on an even grander scale—by dramatically increasing the risk of premature death.
In this meta-analysis, a team of researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, examined the relationship between vitamin D blood levels and all-cause mortality by looking at data and results of 32 studies (more than 500,000 participants) conducted between 1966 and 2013.9-10
The researchers found that the risk of premature death was twice as high in people whose serum D levels were below 30 ng/mL, compared to those whose readings were greater than 30 ng/mL.
Boosting Vitamin D
This finding is quite significant, considering more than half—up to 66 percent—of the U.S. population has low vitamin D levels.
Most people get at least part of their daily vitamin D requirements through unprotected exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. (Roughly 15 to 20 minutes of direct sun is all that the majority of people need.) However, factors such as cloud cover, time of day and/or year and smog/pollution can affect how efficiently ultraviolet radiation penetrates the skin and the body synthesizes vitamin D.
For these reasons, supplementing with D (ideally as vitamin D3) is a good precaution for almost everyone—but particularly for those who have a known deficiency or can’t get out in the sun on a daily basis.
The upper limit for vitamin D3, recommended by the Food and Nutrition Board, is 4,000 IU per day. This same organization also set the “No Observed Adverse Effects Level” at 10,000 IU per day. This means that no published research shows significant side effects at doses that high.11
Discuss with your doctor how much you should supplement every day, based on your serum D levels. As stated by one of the study authors, “Daily intakes above 4,000 IU per day may be appropriate for some patients under medical supervision.”
It’s clear that adequate levels of vitamin D are essential for good health and longevity. Be sure to add this important nutrient to your daily supplement regimen to not only stave off diseases, but to live a longer, healthier life.
- Vimaleswaran KS, et al. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print.]
- Millet P, et al. Biol Aujourdhui. 2014;208(1):77-88.
- Lieberman DA, et al. JAMA. 2003 Dec 10;290(22):2959-67.
- Kim Y, et al. BMC Cancer. 2014 Jan;1:29.
- Wepner F, et al. Pain. 2014;2:261-8.
- Milaneschi Y, et al. Mol Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 9. [Epub ahead of print.]
- Tsur A, et al. Diabetes Care. 2013 Feb 7. [Epub ahead of print.]
- Leblanc ES, et al. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2012 Jun 25. [Epub ahead of print.]
- University of California, San Diego. http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/pressrelease/lower_vitamin_d_level_in_blood_linked_to_higher_premature_death_rate.
- Garland CF, et al. Am J Public Health. 2014 Jun 12:e1-e8. [Epub ahead of print.]
- Vitamin D Council. https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/blog/what-is-the-upper-limit-and-noael-and-are-they-justified/#.