Optimum vitamin D levels cuts risk of premature death in half

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With all the positive press and studies lately, it appears vitamin D is rapidly becoming the super vitamin that everyone needs. A new study published in the June 12, 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health may have just awarded a cape and mask to this popular vitamin, as it suggests optimum levels decrease the risk of premature death.

The major function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which helps form and maintain strong bones and teeth.

Scientists have linked optimum vitamin D levels to myriad benefits including a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders and even infectious diseases. This growing body of evidence has led many scientists and healthcare professionals to call for most individuals to increase their daily intake of vitamin D.

Cedric Garland, DrPH, professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and his colleagues analyzed data from 32 previous studies that evaluated vitamin D blood levels and mortality rates. All told the study includes residents of 14 countries and more than 566,000 participants, with an average length of follow-up of nine years.

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What the study authors observed was that a blood level of 30 ng/ml — a level that experts estimate only one-third of Americans have currently reached — cuts the risk of premature death from all causes in half. Based on these findings the study authors offered reassurance that an appropriate and safe dose of vitamin D can be up to 4,000 IU per day.

It is always wise to consult your doctor and request blood levels of vitamin D be tested before beginning any supplement. These three suggestions may help you increase your blood levels.

Expose your bare skin to the sun. You don’t need to join a nudist colony, but the more skin that is exposed to the sun’s UV rays the more vitamin D that will be synthesized. Some experts suggest that 5 to 30 minutes of sun exposure — preferably between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. — to most of your body and without sunscreen leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis.

Eat foods rich in vitamin D. While it is difficult to affect your vitamin D levels to the point of reaching optimum levels with food, it does help. It may not taste good, but a single tablespoon of cod liver oil provides a whopping 1360 IU of vitamin D. Other marine sources high in vitamin D include herring, catfish, oysters and salmon. Eggs and fortified cereals also have respectable amounts of vitamin D.

Take a vitamin D supplement. Make sure this is the D3 form, or cholecalciferol, and preferably a liquid gel to make the most out of your supplementation. Vitamin D supplements come in many forms — tablet, liquid, capsule and liquid gel — and varieties of dosage. Find the right dosage for you based on doctor recommendations or blood tests and take it daily.

As you increase your vitamin D levels you may experience profound health benefits. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the next superhero.

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