I really hate to beat a dead horse, but this article really surprised me just a little. Cardiovascular disease remains the #1 cause of death here in the US. It is heavily lifestyle mediated and can be avoided in almost all cases with the right choices. But can a single, simple action play a massive role?
Vitamin D is not a vitamin. It is a hormone. As I’ve mentioned, vitamins act as cofactors to enzymes to help get work done. This is important, but it does not actually control what our cells are doing. A hormone, however, actually works its way down to the DNA in the nucleus of our cells and change the way a cell behaves. This can be a very powerful action.
Receptors for vitamin D have been found on most of the cells in our bodies. This means that, contrary to the beliefs as early as a decade ago that vitamin D’s actions were limited to bone only, vitamin D plays a role in most actions in our bodies. The bottom line is that a deficiency can wreak havoc throughout our body.
One of the conditions that vitamin D has been shown in the research to have a protective response is for heart disease. At this point, supplementation is a no brainer. After seeing this study, if you’re not taking vitamin D, then it’s because you’re fully paid up on your life insurance premiums.
Why are these results so striking? This particular study looked at almost 11,000 patients in Kansas and broke them up into normal (>30 ng / ml) or deficient (<30 ng / ml), keeping in mind that optimal is 60-100 ng / ml. (FYI–the average vitamin D level was 24 — i.e. deficient)
- Only 29.7% were in the normal range (NOT even optimal!)
- 70.3% were deficient
- Deficiency was associated with hypertension, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, and diabetes
- Deficiency was a strong predictor of all-cause death (almost 3 X the risk of dying from anything)
- On the other hand, taking vitamin D supplementation lead to a 61% lower risk of dying
61% lower risk of dying. Go back and read that several more times. Take some notes. Mold it in clay in your living room.
It is not common, and by NO means do I advocate a single supplement or lifestyle change rather than a comprehensive lifestyle overhaul, to see any one thing make this much of a striking difference. But clearly, in this large study, vitamin D supplementation did.
In our office, this means STARTING at 2,000 IU / day. Practically not a day goes by that some patient does not come in with bone density problems or low serum levels that are told to take vitamin D by some other physician, but that recommendation is almost always at or below 1,000 IU / day. It is just not enough.