(NaturalHealth365) Depending on how many years young you are, you may remember when vitamin D started gaining popularity in mainstream medicine for its bone-protecting qualities. In recent years, conventionally-trained healthcare providers have even started to recommend vitamin D for relieving stress and boosting immune function.
This June, in the Journal of Public Health, researchers reported that optimal vitamin D3 levels effectively assists in preventing premature death by any cause. In fact, after analyzing 32 studies – over a 40 year period of time – the authors suggested that the risk of premature death is significantly higher if your vitamin D level is below 30 ng/ml.
A simple, relatively inexpensive, way to reduce healthcare costs – worldwide
Dr. Frank Garland along with his brother Cedric, pioneering vitamin D research and they observed:
- Over 600,000 cases of colorectal and breast cancer could be prevented each year if vitamin D levels (worldwide) were increased.
- That while overexposure of sunlight is certainly harmful, underexposure of helpful UVB light can significantly lead to a lack of vitamin D in the body.
Like most pioneers, research from the Garland brothers was considered intriguing, but met with significant skepticism considering the ‘anti-sun’, heavy sunscreen propaganda of the 1980’s. Garland once joked to the New York Times that a person could not make an ounce of vitamin D even if standing completely naked outside from November to March in the middle of Boston.
The Garland brothers revealed the crucial emphasis I place on vitamin D to all of my patients from New York State during the colder (winter) months. You see, cities like Boston, New York, Cleveland and Chicago experience higher mortality rates for cancer and overall disease than cities like San Diego, Honolulu or Miami – mainly because of this link between notoriously low levels of vitamin D and chronic disease throughout the region.
Numbers don’t lie – empower yourself with knowledge and get tested
According to William B. Grant, Ph.D., Director, Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, says “there are now about 100 conditions and diseases linked to low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations.”
Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., Professor of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine and a leading expert on the subject of vitamin D, has said:
“It is now well documented that in the absence of any sun exposure 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day is necessary to maintain healthy levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the circulation. An analysis of the NHANES III data has demonstrated that neither children nor adults are receiving an adequate amount of vitamin D from their diet or from supplements.”
So, no matter where you live, if you have not been tested or your kids have never been tested, it’s time. Ask your doctor for a simple, “25(OH)D blood test” to effectively evaluate your current status. As stated before, if you’re below 30 ng/ml, be sure to focus on achieving an optimal level of around 50 ng/ml, according to the Vitamin D Council plus many other natural healthcare providers.
The best way to achieve optimal levels of vitamin D in the blood
No, it’s not the diet. Actually, the most effective way to get enough vitamin D is through sunlight exposure. In fact, a relatively short exposure of your skin to ‘ultraviolet B’ rays – particularly in the summer – is all you need. Contrary to popular belief, you do NOT have to get a tan or burn your skin to get enough vitamin D from the sun.
The amount of vitamin D you produce, from the sun, will depend on the time of day and the season or angle of the sun. Obviously, for adequate vitamin D levels, those with darker skin will need more time in the sun versus lighter skinned people. For example, wearing a bathing suit for about 15-20 minutes on Cape Cod, in June or July at noon time, is equal to about 20,000 IU of vitamin D oral supplementation.
Of course, age and the nutritional/health status of the individual will also play a role in the ability to generate vitamin D from sun exposure.
In reality, optimizing your vitamin D levels, through sun exposure, will actually help prevent, not cause skin cancer. When you expose your skin to vitamin D, your skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. But, remember, if you use sunscreen you will not be able to produce vitamin D from the sun.
Should I take a vitamin D supplement or not?
You may be thinking, “but I live in a mostly cloud covered area, how will I reverse my lack of vitamin D?” That’s a myth – you can still generate vitamin D on a cloudy day. But, your holistically-trained healthcare provider should be able to help you choose a bioavailable vitamin D3 with a personalized dosage that reflects your most recent lab results.
Typically speaking, most people with low vitamin D levels, tend to supplement with 5,000 to 10,000 IU / daily, and then, of course, get re-tested within a few months.
A final word about the health benefits of vitamin D. Dr. Frank Garland, noteworthy epidemiologist and vitamin D pioneer helped catapult the study of vitamin D into conservative mainstream research by bringing to light that lack thereof was the problem causing widespread vitamin D deficiency in specific parts of the country. His work helped establish the connection between certain cancers and vitamin D such as colon and breast cancer.
Now, thanks to the Garland brothers, many of their colleagues continue to study the powerful health-preserving and enhancing effects of vitamin D. Bottom line, don’t overlook this powerful ingredient for optimal health.
Editor’s note: The NaturalHealth365 Store offers the finest quality vitamin D/K2 supplement on the market. This easy-to-absorb liquid nutritional supplement helps to support the cardiovascular system and immune function. Click here to order today.
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.