sunflowerMost Americans are vitamin D deficient due to inadequate dietary intake and insufficient sun exposure (UVB rays).  The predominant dietary form of vitamin D is D2.  That is also the form typically found in OTC vitamin supplements. The preferred, and more potent, form is vitamin D3 which is synthesized  in the skin from sun exposure.  

Vitamin D acts as both a vitamin and a steroid hormone in the body, long known to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.  Recent studies have demonstrated significant health implications associated with inadequate vitamin D levels.  In adults, studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with osteoporosis, risk of fractures, chronic pain, muscle weakness, infectious diseases, cancers, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

An epidemiological study in December 2006, titled “Epidemic influenza and vitamin D”, suggested that high dose vitamin D supplementation during the flu season may reduce the incidence of influenza.

In September 2007, the Archives of Internal Medicine published a review concerning the link between vitamin D and all -cause mortality.  It was reported that those individuals taking vitamin D supplements over a three year period had an 8% lower risk of death from all causes.

Two studies published in November 2007 further link vitamin D with lower mortality.  In the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, research showed a 72% reduction in the risk of dying from colorectal cancer when high levels of vitamin D were present.  A study in the American Journal of Nutrition concluded that people with higher levels of vitamin D may age more slowly than those with lower levels.

More recently, a study published in June 2008 Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated a significantly increased risk for a heart attack in men with vitamin D deficiency.

Information from the 2008 American Oncology Meeting reported that breast cancer patients were twice as likely to have recurrent disease or metastatic spread over ten years and were 73% more likely to die of the disease, if their vitamin D levels were low at the time of diagnosis.  Similar findings were noted in a study from the American Journal of Epidemiology, October 2008, which concluded that “[the antiproliferative effects] of vitamin D were associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer regardless of hormone receptor status of the tumor”.

Supplementing with vitamin D:

Current US Food and Nutrition board recommendations places the upper limit at 2000 IU/day.  The average a\American consumes only about 230 IU/day.  Studies have routinely shown that more than 75% of adults have inadequate vitamin D levels.  Many experts now recommend 2000-4000 IU/day of vitamin D3; some as high as 10,000 IU/day without apparent toxicity.  The optimal target blood level to reduce the burden of chronic disease and infections is between 60-80 ng/ml. Prudent sun exposure (10 minute exposure of the face, arms, and hands or arms and legs 2-3 times/week) with periodic blood level monitoring is recommended to determine if additional supplementation is warranted.

For more information on sources of high quality vitamin D3 supplements, contact Alternity Healthcare 860.748.4064 or visit our website: