Check Your Vitamin D, Live Longer!
Have you had your vitamin D blood level checked? Not all physicians order this test, but new research suggests they should. According to a groundbreaking new study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, people with the lowest levels of the sunshine vitamin are twice as likely to die prematurely as people with the highest levels. Twice as likely. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a pretty big deal to me. Especially when you consider that about two-thirds of Americans are estimated to have low vitamin D levels.
The non-profit, non-governmental Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, advises the government on matters of public heath policy. Three years ago, they concluded that having too-little vitamin D in the circulation is hazardous to your health. Leading researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have now published a study that examines findings from 32 previous studies on the subject of vitamin D levels and human health.
The latest report confirms the Institute of Medicine's prior claim, and takes it a step further: "This new finding is based on the association of low vitamin D with risk of premature death from all causes, not just bone diseases," said lead study author, Cedric Garland, DrPH. The older study set a lower value for vitamin D levels based on vitamin D's effects on bone health. Rather than focusing solely on bone disease, the new study looked at risk of death from all causes as it relates to vitamin D levels.
The older information assumed that 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of vitamin D was the lowest safe limit. Go below that modest level and you are at risk for serious bone disease. But the newer study found that even going below 30 ng/mL puts people at twice the risk for death from all causes.
About two-thirds of Americans are believed to have vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL. Two-thirds! That's about 200 million people, people!
There are two ways to boost your vitamin D: get some sunshine on your bare skin, or consume vitamin D directly. Spend 15 minutes in the mid-day sun, eat some cold water fish, drink some milk if you can, or consider taking a supplement to boost and maintain your levels of this crucial hormone/vitamin.
"This study should give the medical community and [the] public substantial reassurance that vitamin D is safe when used in appropriate doses, up to 4,000 International Units (IU) per day," said Heather Hofflich, DO, professor in the UC San Diego School of Medicine's Department of Medicine, in a press release.
Cedric F. Garland, June Jiwon Kim, Sharif Burgette Mohr, Edward Doerr Gorham, William B. Grant, Edward L. Giovannucci, Leo Baggerly, Heather Hofflich, Joe Wesley Ramsdell, Kenneth Zeng, Robert P. Heaney. Meta-analysis of All-Cause Mortality According to Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D. American Journal of Public Health, 2014; e1 DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302034