I've written before about the importance of vitamin D3 for health and well-being. New studies confirm that vitamin D3 plays a powerful role in protecting us from chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and life-threatening infections.
Recent research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that people with the lowest vitamin D levels have more than twice the risk of dying of serious illness than do people with highest vitamin D levels.
Additional studies also show significantly greater heart attack, prostate cancer and colon cancer risk in those deficient in vitamin D.
Low levels of vitamin D are also known to give rise to anxiety, depression and insomnia. Research involving more than 81,000 women published in 2011 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with high vitamin D levels had significantly fewer problems with depression.
Low levels of vitamin D have also been linked with breast and prostate cancer. A number of large studies have confirmed that the farther away one lives from the equator and direct sunlight, the greater the incidence of multiple sclerosis.
Millions of people have low levels of vitamin D. A Scientific American study showed that three quarters of American teens and adults have deficient vitamin D levels.
This is a huge problem because these deficiencies don't get remedied. Our health system to fails focus on prevention. This leads to many thousands of preventable illness and preventable deaths.
We have to ask why the public is not better informed through the media. God knows we hear enough about sports, scandals and politics.
Of our $2 trillion annual health care budget, about 2 percent goes to prevention. So it's very important that we take responsibility for preventing health problems while we can.
Supplementing with vitamin D3 can be a good way of doing just that. Studies show that optimal vitamin D3 levels go a long way in preventing Americans from getting ill and dying. We need to do what's necessary to keep our vitamin D levels at optimal levels.
Every cell and tissue in your body requires adequate amounts of vitamin D to function well. Few foods are rich in vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna are among the best sources. Sunlight is the best way to keep your levels up. When the summer sun's UV-B rays reach your skin, a reaction takes place and your skin cells manufacture vitamin D.
Ten to 15 minutes in the sun with good body exposure without sunblock will give you about 10,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide problem because many people can't — or won't — spend time in the sun. The problem for those of us living north of Atlanta, Ga., in the winter is that the sun doesn't get high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere to produce vitamin D.
The good news is that you can take vitamin D3 supplements to ensure that your levels remain optimal. There's debate about how much vitamin D3 supplementation is necessary.
Many experts doing research in the area argue that most health service provider recommendations are low. Research published by Grassroots Health recommends a winter dosage of 8000 IUs daily.
The best way to decide on dosage is to have your vitamin D3 levels tested with the help of your health service provider. The most useful test to use is called the 25 (OH) D test, also known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The new recommended therapeutic levels of vitamin D are 50-70 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Levels less than this are deficient with anything below 20 ng/ml indicating extreme deficiency. Levels greater than 100 ng/ml are excessive. Vitamin D levels between 70-100 are often used to treat cancer and heart disease.
If you use vitamin D supplements, make certain you purchase vitamin D3, not D2. Look over the label carefully. Buy high quality D3 supplements so you can feel confident that you're getting what you need. Latest studies shows D3 is nearly 90 percent more effective in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations than D2.
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Dr. Jim Manganiello is a clinical psychologist and diplomate-level medical psychotherapist based in Groveland and West Boxford. He is also an author and teacher focusing on stress, personal growth, meditation and "inner fitness." His book "Unshakable Certainty" is available on Amazon. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.drjimmanganiello.com.