Most people are deficient, though the government claims otherwise!
New recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamin D, released Wednesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), claim that few Americans are low in the “sunshine vitamin,” although scientific studies show just the opposite. (A few of the most recent are listed in “Sources” below.)
The government’s first official recommendation since 1997 did, however, raise the intake level for vitamin D—but it remains well below the levels used in most clinical research.
“Studies have been published on diabetes and vitamin D,” for example, that were not included in the IOM’s research, says Michael Holick, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine. Among other important research ignored by the government “was a study just released in Japan that showed that children supplemented with vitamin D had 100% less influenza.”
A large and ever-growing body of research increasingly links deficiencies in the “sunshine vitamin”—even in sunny climates—to inflammation (including inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis), autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as heart disease and stroke, numerous cancers, muscle problems, even depression and neurocognitive disorders.
Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:
Against this kind of evidence, it’s hard to believe that the IOM didn’t raise vitamin D levels much higher. With few natural sources for the “sunshine vitamin” beyond eggs and fatty fish in the diet, it’s easy to see why most people are deficient in this critical nutrient.
Kevin Cooper, director of the NIAMS Skin Diseases Research Center at Case Western Reserve University, is also concerned that the new RDAs “do not reflect the high prevalence of vitamin D in patients who practice sensible sun protection or others who live in the North.”
To add insult to injury, the government didn’t even recommend an adequate level in blood tests for D. Although most experts believe that less than 30 nanograms (ng/mL) of the “sunshine vitamin” indicates deficiency, the IOM committee concluded that 20 to 30 ng/mL is all that’s necessary for bone health—and failed to recognize other benefits from D.
“Insufficient levels of 25(OH)D, defined as less than 30 ng/mL, have risen from 40% in 1988-1994 to approximately 70% during 2001-2004 among Causcasians, with an increase in insufficient levels from 88% to 97% among African Americans,” reports Diane L. Kamen, MD, MSCR, in the Bulletin of the New York Hospital for Joint Diseases.
The Alliance for Natural Health calls the IOM report “wrong, wrong, wrong.” I couldn’t agree more!
Why You Need to Take D
Besides the IOM’s rationale for upping vitamin D—to maintain healthy bones when taken with calcium—the proven benefits go far beyond the scope of this blog. But here are some that may interest you:
• Randomized, controlled trials demonstrate that supplementing with vitamin D lowers systolic blood pressure in arterial hypertension.
• D impacts immunity and prevents autoimmune response in 76 clinical studies.
• This vitamin’s immunomodulating effects help explain epidemiological links with numerous diseases from asthma and respiratory disorders to cancer and diabetes, IBS, MS, and autoimmune diseases like lupus.
• D supplements improve glycemic control in people with Type 1 diabetes while vitamin deficiency is linked to Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (prediabetes).
• Low levels are associated with increased mortality from breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer, as well as higher death rates overall.
• Dermatological research finds D effective treatment for psoriasis and other skin disorders.
• Despite declining incidence in fractures and injuries overall, forearm fractures are rising in healthy children, and rickets (a D-deficiency weakening of bones) impacts the young, even in sunny countries.
• Both the brain and skeletal muscles have vitamin D receptors, and low levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and other neurological problems as well as muscle weakness and atrophy.
Andrew Shao, PhD, senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, finds no convincing evidence that people are harmed by supplements—and says that higher levels are beneficial.
How Much Is Enough?
Based on Dr. Shao’s research, humans can safely take up to 10,000 IUs a day. I recently increased the level of this vitamin in UNI KEY’s multivitamin formulations, like Female Multiple and Male Multiple, because of concern about widespread deficiencies.
The research I did while writing my latest book, Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution, has shown me yet another important reason that vitamin D is vital today—everyone is constantly bathed in electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from cell and cordless phones, digital devices, faulty wiring, microwaves, power lines, satellites, and WiFi. Vitamin D3, or calcitrol used in my formulas, is radioprotective—even against low-level back radiation from electronic pollution.
While the exact amount of vitamin D you need to optimize your blood levels will vary depending upon your age, genes, how far north you live, the season of the year, and how much time you spend in the sun without sunscreen, I find that Vitamin D 5000, pure D3, is an effective way for deficient individuals to replenish their levels.
Not only is it essential for calcium balance, bone density, immune function, and proper cell growth, sufficient D is also beneficial in fighting the flu and respiratory viruses. And as Zapped shows, vitamin D3 facilitates communications between the cells in the body, interrupted by electronic pollution.
Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution