Just a few years ago, vitamin D was simply known as the “bone vitamin”. Thanks to the hard work of manny scientists, especially Michael Holick, MD, a pioneer in vitamin D research, the data show that nearly every tissue and cell type in the body has receptors for vitamin D. As a result of this discovery, much higher doses are required for optimal functioning. This discovery has radically changed how we understand the role of vitamin D in the body.
Unless your body is at optimal levels, you are opening the door to a hostel of disorders, ranging from heart disease and Alzheimer’s to weak bones and diabetes.
In fact, even if you have normal blood sugar today, a vitamin D deficiency makes you 91% more likely to progress to insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes”, and it more than doubles your risk for progressing to active, type II diabetes.
Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is a global epidemic. An estimated 1 billion people do not have adequate vitamin D levels. And 64% of Americans don’t have enough vitamin D to keep all of their tissues operating at peak capacity.
The results of this deficiency are catastrophic. Studies have now shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of a long list of diseases that span all systems in the body. In fact, low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of non-Alzheimer’s dementia almost 20 times!
While checking for vitamin D levels is still not standard of care for many physicians, you will realize from reading this article that assessing vitamin D status is one of the most important health-protecting steps you can take. Fortunately, achieving optimal levels of vitamin D is easy, inexpensive, and highly protective against a range of lethal diseases.
Why Vitamin D is so Vital
While humans can make some vitamin D in their bodies, most of us require additional amounts from our diet, the sun, or from supplements in order to maintain adequate levels.
Once vitamin D has been ingested in the diet or produced in the skin, the liver and kidneys convert it to its active form, called 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, or vitamin D3.
Virtually every tissue type in your body has receptors for vitamin D, meaning that they all require vitamin D for adequate functioning. The very presence of specific receptors define vitamin D as a hormone rather than a vitamin. It interacts with receptors throughout the body and has a number of different effects.
It’s becoming evident that higher doses of vitamin D are required to support its other activities in tissues such as heart muscle, brain cells, and fat tissue to name just a few. Additionally, vitamin D regulates genes that control cell growth and development, immune functions, and metabolic control.
Studies have now shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of numerous chronic disorders, including type II diabetes, cancer, infections, and cardiovascular, autoimmune, and neurological diseases.
The Global Vitamin D Deficiency
the problem is that most of us are simply not getting enough vitamin D to allow our bodies to work optimally at all of the functions that vitamin D supports. An estimated 1 billion people (that’s about a seventh of the global population) have inadequate vitamin D supplies in their bodies.
According to mainstream standards, there are three levels of vitamin D status: sufficient, insufficient, and deficient.
– People who are considered vitamin D “sufficient” have blood levels of at least 30 ng/ml. However, optimal vitamin D status is achieved with a minimum of 50 ng/ml.
-Those considered insufficient” (meaning their bodies aren’t at optimal vitamin D capacity) have levels between 21 and 29 ng/ml.
– And those who are “deficient” are defined as having levels at or below 20 ng/ml.
BY those criteria, 25% of Americans are insufficient and 39% are outright deficient. In other words, fully 64% of Americans don’t have enough vitamin D to keep all of their tissues operating a peak capacity. It’s hardly any wonder we are plagued with so many chronic diseases.
By Logan Bronwell, Life Extension, August 2013 issue.