Vitamin D and Testosterone Levels

A new study appears to show a link between healthy vitamin D intake and healthy testosterone levels, and/or a link between low vitamin D levels and low testosterone. Which is it? More research is needed, say the scientists who conducted the study.

Vitamin D and Testosterone Levels

Vitamin D Deficiency has already been shown to lead to an increased propensity for developing dozens of different illnesses, diseases and other conditions. Conversely, healthy levels of vitamin D3 by way of sun exposure or supplementation have been shown to help strengthen the immune system and stave off numerous diseases. Well, theres more news on the vitamin D front, and this latest news involving the miracle sunshine vitamin appears to bode especially well for men particularly those whose age is at (or in excess of) the age at which testosterone levels typically begin to decline in males.

Testosterone and Vitamin D

Testosterone is the male sex hormone, and low levels can result in a decreased sex drive, metabolic slowing and decreased muscle mass, among other things.

The most recent news is that high serum levels of Vitamin D have been clinically shown to boost testosterone levels in men. This according to a new study conducted by Katharina Nimptsch and associates at the Harvard School of Public Health[1], and which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology earlier this year.

In their report on the trial, Nimptsch and company suggested that vitamin D may increase the production of testosterone in men, and experimental animal studies and at least one cross-sectional study appear to show a positive link between plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D and testosterone production in men. The scientists determined that once vitamin D levels reached the point of 75 to 85 nmol per liter, the relationship with increased testosterone production appeared to taper off.

A similar association was also observed between levels of serum vitamin D and free testosterone.

At lower levels, the amount of the increase in testosterone production was proportionate to the increase in vitamin D levels, which in the study were ingested in the form of vitamin D3 supplements.

Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D obtained through sun exposure and a process of internal synthesis involving the bodys vitamin D receptors. D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the most readily absorbed form of vitamin D available as a supplement, and is far more effective than the synthetic vitamin D2, the use of which as a supplement in humans has become controversial in recent years.

Testosterone Vitamin D

The scientists who conducted the trial stopped short of asserting a definitive causality between increased vitamin D3 intake and increased testosterone levels. The report made it a point of clarifying that more research is needed to determine whether the relationship between increased vitamin D intake (or synthesis if obtained from sunlight) results in increased testosterone, or if low testosterone is merely a byproduct of low vitamin D to begin with. While this may appear to be a tomato-tomahto argument for some, the scientists were careful to assert that more research was needed before any sort of causality between vitamin D levels and testosterone levels could be established.

In the scientists own words:

This study supports previously reported positive associations between vitamin D and testosterone although we did not observe parallel seasonal variation patterns. Possible causality and direction of the vitamin D-testosterone association deserve further scientific investigation.

In any case, testosterone-boosting medications and supplements have become a booming industry over the past couple of years, and it is possible that men across the country and world may be unnecessarily paying excessive prices for doctors visits, testosterone-enhancing medicines and high-end supplements which may have adverse side-effects. If all that is needed to achieve healthy testosterone levels is increased sun exposure and/or a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement, then hundreds of thousands if not millions of men could be saving hundreds of dollars while safely and naturally achieving the same ends (increased levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone) without all the risks, negative side-effects and foreign chemicals found in some of these other testosterone boosting medicines and supplements.

Vitamin D and Low Testosterone

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04332.x/abstract

Schizophrenia Linked to Vitamin D Insufficiency

Schizophrenia Linked to Vitamin D Insufficiency

By: Pamela Egan

A new study out of Iran has determined that individuals suffering from inadequate serum levels of vitamin D have more than double the chances of becoming schizophrenic than do people who obtain healthy amounts of the letter vitamin/hormone.

Low Vitamin D Serum Levels Doubles Chances of Becoming Schizophrenic

Vitamin D-3 Drops (Supplement)Unlike a traditional study, the research published July 22 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism constitutes what is known as a “meta analysis”. In a meta analysis, unlike a traditional experiment, study or clinical trial, instead of conducting original research using volunteers (test subjects), a control group and different variables to determine how the different variables react (or don’t react) to the volunteers under various circumstances; the researchers instead review previously conducted research. The objective is to review numerous studies which are similar in nature in an attempt to discern any patterns or other data that may surface in the presence of macro-data that may not be as obvious within the context of a single study.

In this particular instance, the researchers reviewed 19 different studies encompassing a combined total of over 2,800 people studied. The purpose of the research was to determine if any discernible link could be established between vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia.

The scientists were surprised to discover that not only does vitamin D deficiency predispose an individual to developing schizophrenia, a grouping of psychiatric disorders characterized by among other things hallucinations, difficulty speaking, delusions and disoriented thoughts, but did so by a substantial margin. As it turns out, those who suffer from insufficient levels of vitamin D (which is actually a hormone – not a vitamin), a condition known as “vitamin D deficiency” or “vitamin D deficiency syndrome”, are more than two times as likely to become schizophrenic than are people who maintain normal/healthy levels of the hormone/nutrient. The exact figure is 2.16 times more likely for those whose levels are inadequate relative to those whose are.

While co-author Dr. Ahmad Esmaillzadeh expressed hope that his team’s findings “might help psychiatrists in the healing process of patients with schizophrenia,” he cautioned against jumping to any conclusions with regard to the role (if any) vitamin D supplements will play in the prevention and treatment of this mentally trying condition.

“Controlled clinical trials are needed to confirm the effects of vitamin D supplementation,” Esmaillzadeh added.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Schizophrenia – Video

Vitamin D3 Can Help Combat Inflammation

Vitamin D3 May Help Reduce Inflammation

By: Pamela Egan, MN, FNP

At the root of many, many chronic diseases and illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, etc., is inflammation. If one can keep inflammation at bay, that person has successfully won half of the aging battle.

Vitamin D SunlightResearch shows you can drastically reduce your risk of cancer and countless other chronic diseases by getting safe sun exposure, or taking a high quality Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement. Vitamin D3 deficiency has been associated with Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Diabetes, Colon Cancer, Obesity, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, Auto-Immune Disease, Neuro-degenerative Diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Osteoporosis, Depression, and also Breast Cancer.

Personally, I can always tell when my D3 levels falls lower than 60 because my feet get achy. However, this occurrence is rare as I make a point of regularly obtaining the nutrient through a variety of Vitamin D3 Sources.

Sun, Vitamin D and Inflammation

New data on nutrition and heart disease presented at a recent symposium and published in the July issue of the American Journal of the Medical Sciences shows that low vitamin D levels are a common problem affecting numerous health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart failure and ischemic heart disease.

I have many patients with auto-immune disease including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus who are off of their medications including steroids and methotrexate with vitamin D3 10,000iu/day plus a course of prescription strength probiotics such as VSL-3VSL #3.  Many patients with hypertension are managed with Vitamin D3 5000 iu twice a day + Magnesium Glycinate 100mg twice a day.

High-quality vitamin d3 supplements are available at EGAN Wellness Clinic, the clinic’s online supplement shop and other providers of high-end nutritional supplements. It is important to actually purchase a high-quality supplement as opposed to grocery store and pharmacy brands, which are not anywhere near equal to the vitamin D3 made by companies like Douglas Laboratories, EGAN Wellness / EGAN Nutrition or a BioTech. The Vitamin D3 Blog provides this information for those who may be better off taking such a supplement (as opposed to receiving a flu vaccine) but don’t know where to obtain one that will achieve the desired results.

Pamela Egan, NP, ABAAHP Diplomat (American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners), CDE is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Fellow of the American Academy of Anti-Aging & Functional Medicine, and Certified Diabetes Educator. She is a health columnist from Covington, LA.

Vitamin D3: The Forgotten Hormone

Vitamin D3: The Forgotten Hormone

By: Pamela Egan

What is one of the cheapest and easiest interventions in medicine that would save the most lives and the most money? It reduces inflammation in your heart, brain & joints. It stops bone loss and protects you from osteoporosis, diabetes & obesity. It strengthens your immune system and helps retard bacterial and viral infections. It helps prevent several different cancers. It helps cure fibromyalgia, depression, and chronic fatigue syndrome. If you’ve read my past health columns, you know that I am referring to natural, active Vtamin D3, not synthetic D2.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is essential for life. You may ask why are Americans so deficient in Vitamin D3? Let’s take a look at evolutionary biology. Our ancestors lived naked in the sun for several million years. Through evolution, sunlight was needed to produce Vitamin D. Then 50,000 years ago, some of us migrated north to places with less sun. Then we put on clothes, started working inside and living in cities where buildings blocked the sun.

We started traveling in cars instead of walking or riding horses and glass blocked even more UVB in the sunlight. Only a few years ago, we started actively avoiding the sun and putting on sun block. All this time we humans have been steadily reducing the tissue levels of the most potent steroid hormone in our bodies, one with powerful anti-cancer properties.

The really significant reductions in sunlight exposure have occurred since the industrial revolution, just the time the “diseases of civilization,” like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer became prominent.

vitamin D hormone

So what can a Vitamin D3 deficiency lead to? At least 17 varieties of cancer including: Breast, Bladder, Colon, Lymphoma, Ovarian, Endometrial, and Prostate. Heart disease, High Blood pressure, Stroke, Autoimmune disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes Type 1 & 2, Depression, Chronic Pain, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Muscle Weakness, Obesity, Periodontal Disease, Infectious Disease, & more. Vitamin D3 is a powerful anti-inflammatory and those of us in the Anti-Aging industry that reducing inflammation is half the aging battle won!

The research is astonishing! So how much Vitamin D3 do we need per day?

Ask your primary care provider to check your serum vitamin D3/ 25(OH) level. The optimum range is 80 – 100 ng/ml. No toxicity was seen with D3 levels less than 150 ng/ml.

The optimum dose of Vitamin D3 is 5000 – 15,000IU per day. (I personally take 10,000IU D3 daily to maintain my 25(OH) level between 80 – 100. A weekly dose of 50,000 IU D3 is OK. Fewer supplements are needed if you receive more sun exposure. Maybe they knew something we didn’t know in those nudist colonies.

Pamela Egan, MN, NP, CDE, ABAAHP Diplomat (American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners), is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Specialist in Gerontology/Mental Health, & Certified Diabetes Educator. She can be reached at 985-892-3031 or www.pamelaegan.com.

Vitamin D3 Benefits: Autism and ADHD

Can Vitamin D3 Help Reduce the Rates of Autism, ADHD?

By: Pamela Egan, NP, ABAAHP, CDE

In addition to research that indicates that Vitamin D3 can help drastically reduce your risk of Seasonal Flu and Swine Flu, the super-vitamin also appears to have a role in combating Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) as well as Autism.

Vitamin D Autism

More than 4.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Health officials believe the incidence of autism is 1 in 150. The incidence among boys is even higher: 1 in 94.  Vitamin D’s role in the development of the brain begins when the human brain undergoes its most rapid and complex formation between the last trimester of pregnancy and the first two years of life.  Some of the new literature on vitamin D3 suggests that it may be that a maternal vitamin D3 deficiency sets the stage for autism. When combined with the right genetic propensity, which is linked to a high risk of autoimmune disorders, activating an immune reaction in the brain may trigger the effects on brain development associated with autism.

In this way, daily ingestion of a high-quality vitamin d3 supplement by pregnant mothers may help reduce the rates of ADHD and Autism in future generations.

Pamela Egan, NP, ABAAHP Diplomat (American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioners), CDE is a board certified Adult & Family Nurse Practitioner, Fellow of the American Academy of Anti-Aging & Functional Medicine, and Certified Diabetes Educator. She is a  health columnist from Covington, LA. Her website is www.pamelaegan.com.

Nurse Practitioner Egan has written extensively about the topic of vitamin d3. Links to some of her articles about the subject have been included below.

Pam’s Vitamin D3 Articles:

  • Vitamin D3 Sources – Article about the various sources through which one can obtain vitamin d3. These include sunlight, egg yolks and cold liver oil.
  • Vitamin D3: The Miracle of Sunshine – Comprehensive article covers virtually all angles of discussion regarding the topic of vitamin d3. The article touches upon the differences between vitamins d2 and d3, the role of sunlight in the creation of d3, d3 deficiency and the many, many health benefits associated with consistently healthy levels of the nutrient being present in an individual.
  • Vitamin D3: Are You Getting Enough? – Article covering the basics of vitamin d3, emphasizing the importance of the nutrient and warning against the dangers of being d3 deficient. The article recommends sunbathing, in the nude if possible, as a means of countering d3 deficiency.
  • Experts Call for Increased Dosage of Vitamin D3 – Article discussing vitamin d3 dosage, and research that suggests that additional health benefits may be obtained by increasing the amount of intake.
  • Vitamin D3 May Help Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol – Article discussing scientific research that seemingly establishes a relationship between vitamin d3, blood pressure and cholesterol. The study found that as vitamin d levels decreased, blood pressure and cholesterol tended to rise, and vice versa.

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Myriad Diseases

Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Myriad Diseases

UPDATE: The list of diseases, illnesses and various other health maladies that have been scientifically linked to Vitamin D Deficiency now stands at 32. The updated version of the list is posted at the bottom of the article.

If you’ve been following the news at all for the past year, you’ve probably read that Vitamin D — Vitamin D3 specifically — helps boost the immune system.  You’ve probably also read that increasing volumes of research seem to indicate a relationship between Vitamin D Deficiency and various diseases.  What you may not have known is just how many different diseases and conditions are now being linked scientifically to deficient levels of this vital nutrient.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Before I go any further, I’d like to clarify the difference between Vita
min D3
and regular Vitamin D. Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) is the form of the vitamin manufactured within the human body from sunlight. It is the most active and bioavailable form of the nutrient, which translated to better absorption within the body. The alternative form of the vitamin is known as D2, or Ergocalciferol.

Over the past several years, the general consensus of experts has been rapidly shifting in the direction of declaring Vitamin D2 a nutrient unfit for supplement form. This is due in part to health experts such as Nurse Practitioner and Health Columnist Pam Egan, who dared to challenge the conventional wisdom regarding Vitamin D at a time when the term “Vitamin D3″ was largely unheard of. Mrs. Egan has been distinguishing between the two forms of the vitamin in her published writings for most of the past decade, including a couple of years at the beginning when her peers wrote off her claims as speculative.

While scanning news headlines recently, I was simply awed by the sheer number of stories about the establishment of scientific links between Vitamin D3 Deficiency and disease. In light of this experience, I have assembled a partial list of the seemingly endless diseases and conditions for which the nutritional shortcoming is a contributing factor.

In no particular order, the following is a partial list of some of the diseases and conditions caused in part by Vitamin D Deficiency.


Diseases and Conditions Linked to Vitamin D3 Deficiency:

1. Parkinson’s Disease – Two new studies suggest that older people who are deficient in Vitamin D may be more likely to develop the neurological disorder.  The first study was directed by Paul Knekt of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.  David Llewellyn of Italy’s Exeter University spearheaded the second study, which was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Source

2. Asthma – A new study conducted by the Harvard Medical School in Boston found that children low in Vitamin D3 were more likely to suffer an asthma attack requiring hospitalization than were children with healthy levels of the vitamin. Source

3. Chronic Pain – Two studies – one by Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, the other by the Mayo Clinic – appear to show a link between Vitamin D Deficiency and chronic pain. Source

4. Childhood Obesity – A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that Vitamin D deficient children are likely to have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than their better-nourished schoolmates. Source

5. Osteoporosis in Patients with IBD – A study by the American College of Gastroenterology indicates that Vitamin D deficient patients with IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease) are at a greater risk of developing osteoporosis, osteopenia and an overall higher rate of abnormal bone density. Source

6. Autoimmune Disorders – A study published in Genome Research indicates that people with insufficient Vitamin D are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. Source

7. Arterial Stiffness – The Endocrine Society published a study this past summer linking Vitamin D Deficiency to arterial stiffness in black teens. Source

8. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome – Researchers from Johns Hopkins University presented a study at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting establishing a link between Vitamin D Deficiency and Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, which is the medical precursor to diabetes. Source

9. Cancer, Heart Disease and More – The following study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition establishes the preventive benefits of Vitamin D3 with regard to various forms of cancer, heart disease and numerous others. Source

10. Rickets – This one has long-been established as fact by the medical and scientific communities, so I therefore feel no need to include specifics or cite sources.  The link has been firmly established and repeatedly confirmed.

11. Inflammation – A 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirmed a link between Vitamin D Deficiency in otherwise healthy women and increased inflammation. Source

12. Autism – There is an increasing body of evidence that Vitamin D Deficiency is a contributing factor to autism. Dr. John Cannell, a psychiatrist and prominent vitamin D advocate, says flagging levels of the vitamin in pregnant women and young children could be the elusive factor explaining the rising rate of autism. Source

13. ADHD – Recent studies from the past several years increasingly point to a relationship between low levels of Vitamin D3 and an aggravation/intensification of the symptoms of ADD and ADHD.

14. Influenza & Swine Flu – Research presented by John Cannell, MD of the Vitamin D Council showed that Vitamin D3 is protective against seasonal flu. Further research performed by Norris Glick, MD and Ellie Campbell, DO, showed that Vitamin D3 helps prevent H1N1 Flu. Further, Dr. John Cannell showed that Vitamin D3 deficiency activates the influenza virus (the Flu).

15. Fibromyalgia – A study published in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association determined that Vitamin D3 deficiency is frequently seen in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia and nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. Source

16. Hypertension & High Cholesterol – Evidence from numerous clinical and epidemiological studies have shown that increased dosages of Vitamin D3 can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol in patients deficient in the nutrient. Source

17. Depression – A scientific link between low Vitamin D3 levels and depression has been established following several recent studies confirming the relationship. According to one such study by scientists at Georgia State University: “The likelihood of having depression in persons with vitamin D deficiency is significantly higher compared to those with vitamin D sufficiency. Early diagnosis and intervention are paramount because coexistence of vitamin D deficiency and depression has serious negative consequences on health.” Source

18. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Vitamin D deficiency is closely associated with the chronic fatigue in patients with traumatic brain injury. Source

19. Tooth Decay – There is strong evidence indicating a relationship linking Vitamin D Deficiency to cavities and tooth decay. Dozens of studies were conducted in the 1930′s and 1940′s on this very subject. More than 90% of those studies concluded that supplementing children with vitamin D prevents cavities. Source

20. Lung Transplant Rejection – Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a significant increase in lung transplant rejection, according to research conducted at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). Source

Please keep in mind that this is only a partial list of the myriad of diseases and adverse conditions that are either caused in part by or aggravated by Vitamin D Deficiency, or that can largely be prevented with adequate sun exposure and/or supplemental intake.  Check back as I will be posting a follow-up article sometime in the near future listing even more diseases for which this nutritional shortage is a contributing factor.

Updated List of Diseases Linked to Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Skin Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • ADHD
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Allergies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Depression
  • AIDS
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rickets
  • Influenza
  • H1N1 Flu
  • Various Autoimmune Disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lung Transplant Rejection
  • Asthma
  • Childhood Obesity
  • Chronic Pain
  • Tooth Loss
  • Gingivitis
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Arterial Stiffness
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Psoriatic Arthritis
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder

Dermatologists Disagree with Vitamin D Council

Dermatologists Disagree with Vitamin D Council

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has come under fire for a recent statement issued on behalf of the organization claiming that sun exposure is not necessary in order for a person to obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin d3 (cholecalciferol).

American Academy of Dermatology

A group known as The Vitamin D Council blasted the dermatologists association in response to the statement, claiming the statement was an attempt to protect the Academy from potential liabilities stemming from previous campaigns to increase sunscreen use, which the Council claims resulted in mass-vitamin d deficiencies.

Vitamin D Council

In response to the outpouring of criticism stemming from its earlier statement, the AAD released a revised statement in which the semantics appear to have been tinkered with but little actually changed substantively speaking.  Though the wording was slightly different, the group stood by its claim that people should obtain vitamin d through food and not via the sun. The reason, they claim, is that the costs in terms of damage to the skin outweigh the benefits brought about by the vitamin d3.

American Academy of Dermatology Website:  http://www.aad.org/index.html

The Vitamin D Council’s Website: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/

Vitamin D3 Supplements: When Are They Necessary?

Who Should Take Vitamin D Supplements, How Much and Why?

Vitamin D supplements, particularly those providing the more bio-available form known as Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol, can be of life-saving importance to a larger percentage of the population than most would probably assume. Of all the vitamin and mineral supplements out on the market, Vitamin D3 supplements may be the most under-consumed and most important among them.

According to a number of recent studies, between 50-80% of the American population isn’t getting enough Vitamin D. This number is believed to be even higher among African Americans. Part of the problem is that a disturbingly high number of people either aren’t aware of the importance of healthy levels of the nutrient or make the mistake of assuming they get enough by way of diet and/or sunlight.

Remedial Information about Vitamin D is Misleading

Vitamin D3 Supplements

While most of us learned in school about the ever-important D vitamin is technically true (that Vitamin D is obtained via sunlight naturally), it is woefully incomplete information that has contributed to the crisis many health experts describe as a Vitamin D deficiency epidemic. We get Vitamin D from the sunshine. It is a “nonessential” vitamin (although that term is very misleading). What this effectively means is that our bodies can make it. Specifically, human skin manufactures it from sunshine, the liver breaks it down, and finally the kidney activates it into a form that is thousands of times more potent. This job provided by the kidney is lost very in the early stages of chronic kidney disease, and diminishes substantially often simply as a result of the aging process. What’s more, older people’s skin is not able to optimally manufacture the nutrient from sunlight.

So what does this all mean to the average American who likely had never so much as considered whether or not he or she was obtaining sufficient amounts of the nutrient?

Most of us also learned in school that inadequate Vitamin D levels can lead to rickets. But how many adults actually know someone with rickets? This is precisely the dilemma — rickets is not a disease people are used to seeing and thus, intricately familiar with.

Think You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D?  Think Again

Vitamin D3 Deficiency Sunlight

Far too many Americans are of the mistaken belief that they are getting enough sunshine, and what they’re not getting in terms of sun is compensated for by diet. This is a big mistake, at least if the studies indicating that more than half the American population is deficient are correct. Paying a (probably already overdue) visit to the doctor and having one’s Vitamin D levels checked takes very little time and is a relatively inexpensive test. This test is the only way to know for sure if one is low in the nutrient and thus susceptible to the assortment of health ailments and illnesses associated with the condition.

More Milk isn’t the Answer

Milk is fortified with Vitamin D, and many who are cognizant of the importance of the vitamin assume that drinking milk will help stave off deficiency. Technically this isn’t completely inaccurate. There’s just one problem with that line of thinking though: it would take approximately 16 glasses of milk a day to provide the necessary amount of Vitamin D needed to stave of deficiency and deficiency-related illness. What’s more, the Vitamin D found in milk breaks down when exposed to light? Most major grocery chains store milk under fluorescent lights 24-7 until it sells. Even if the milk is stored in such a way as to protect the nutrients inside it, sixteen glasses is a lot of milk — even if you like milk.

Rickets we rarely encounter, sunshine we have aplenty, and we’ve survived this long without nutrient-rich milk, so what does it matter? The human body requires Vitamin D for many internal processes. It is a co-factor in myriad activities within the body. Most of us did not learn this in school as scientists only recently discovered just how critically important this nutrient is.

Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic

What you don’t know, can hurt you. Without enough Vitamin D, not only are we vulnerable to rickets, but more importantly processes begin in which the body essentially turns itself into bone. Genes get *up-regulated(1) in the absence of needed levels of Vitamin D, which lead to the building of bone matrix in soft tissue. That tissue includes blood vessels, the heart, liver, pancreas, the list goes on. Upon that matrix, minerals like calcium are laid down and turn it into bone. This obviously is not good for one’s health. As a matter of fact, this directly correlates with mortality rates — especially via heart disease.

Vitamin D3 DeficiencyThe lower the Vitamin D levels, the higher the mortality rate! Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, fibromyalgia, proximal muscle weakness, and many, many others. While the death certificate doesn’t typically list Vitamin D deficiency as the cause-of-death, an alarmingly high number of debilitating and potentially even fatal diseases and illnesses have been associated with deficiencies in Vitamin D levels. So which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Vitamin D deficiency is indeed an epidemic. In numerous studies, 50-80% of the American populations studied are deficient in this Vitamin. These numbers are believed to be even higher among African Americans. While rickets is not regarded as a serious health concern, more and more people are diagnosed with heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes everyday in every family. Can anything help to prevent this?

More Sunlight Not Necessarily the Answer

The sun has gotten a bad rap. We know it causes aging of our skin and skin cancer. This is true, and in the case of skin cancer potentially deadly, so getting more sunlight is not necessarily the answer. Worth noting is the fact that the darker one’s skin, the less Vitamin D that person is able to manufacture all other things being equal. This likely explains why African Americans are suffering and dying more than any other group from these very same diseases now linked with Vitamin D deficiency.

When one spends considerable time in the sun, what happens? Assuming the person used sunblock, that person will become tan. The darker the skin the less Vitamin D one is able to manufacture, so more sun exposure is not the answer due to it’s catch-22 nature. This is especially true for African Americans and other people with dark skin.

vitamin D deficiency

Time in the sun is not a good predictor of one’s Vitamin D level for the reasons stated above. The only way to know if a person is deficient (and about 80% of us are) is to have that person’s Vitamin D levels tested and evaluated. Drinking milk is not going to bring the levels up unless perhaps one maybe owns a cow or has a very large refrigerator to go along with an insatiable appetite. The bottom line is that for most adults, Vitamin D3 supplements are usually necessary to ensure healthy levels and promote good health. According to esteemed Nurse Practitioner and Health Columnist Pamela Egan, “the few patients I see who are not deficient usually have been taking vitamin supplements for years.”

How Much Should I take?

The recommended dosages for Vitamin D are 400 units a day if you are under 50 years old, 600 units a day for those 51-70, and 800 units a day for those over 71. When one is deficient, it is very difficult to replete levels with over the counter doses of Vitamin D. A prescription-strength dose is often required, and can be beneficial with a weekly dose.

Nurse Practitioner Egan offered the following piece of advice for readers of this blog: “Talk to your doctor, get a level measured, and supplement your deficiency with enough D to maintain adequate levels. Let’s all live a long and happy life!”

High-Quality Vitamin D3 Supplements

* 1. Up-Regulation – the process where postsynaptic receptors increase in number or become more sensitive when presynaptic neurons are not releasing enough neurotransmitter to carry the impulse (mcgraw-hill.com).

* Alternate Definition of Up-Regulation – an increase in the number and density of a particular neuronal receptor, generally in response to an altered amount of neurotransmitters present in the surrounding environment (macalester.edu).

Pamela Egan, FNP-C, CDE, is a board-certified Nurse Practitioner, certified diabetes educator, health columnist and anti-aging diplomat. She is an expert on vitamin d3 and illnesses associated with deficiencies of this vital nutrient. Her website is www.pamelaegan.com.