It has been two years since my first update on Vitamin D. Research on vitamin D has continued to explode in this time. I see about 3 major articles a week that have been published on vitamin D. Rarely do the important studies make the newspapers.
One of vitamin D’s most basic properties is increasing calcium absorption, bone density, and muscle strength. Studies have shown that it’s never too late to be beneficial; in double blind studies elderly nursing home patients decrease their falls and fractures within 6 months of being given a significant dose of vitamin D. Studies show that bone density at 40 ng is better than at lower levels. I have collected several case histories in which people have increased their bone density by 15% on vitamin D alone over a few years. In 6 years of my ordering vitamin D levels, only 4 out of 700 (1 out of 175) had osteoporosis or osteopenia with an initial level of vitamin D over 32 ng (and all 4 were just barely over 32). Other physicians I have spoken to have seen the same results. Conclusion: want to have almost complete protection against osteoporosis? Keep your vitamin D level over 32 ng. (although 40 ng or higher would be better). (see #17 on osteoporosis).
My 2010 update listed information about vitamin D preventing hyper-proliferation of cells, and therefore cancer. A landmark study has been published specifically on breast cancer and the results were nothing short of incredible. Women diagnosed with breast cancer with vitamin D levels over 30 ng. were 73% less likely to die and 94% less likely to have their cancer recur compared to those with levels less than 20 ng. during the 10 year length of the study. The evidence in other studies indicate that if the vitamin D level is raised with supplements after the diagnosis of breast cancer is made, the prognosis will improve substantially. (see #15 on breast cancer for details of the study.
It has been shown that vitamin D prevents autoimmune disease by interfering with the production of abnormal antibodies that attack the body. Extensive studies have shown that the incidence of type I diabetes (juvenile), and multiple sclerosis can be greatly decreased by giving infants vitamin D. Many research articles on MS have shown improvements in the progress of the disease with vitamin D. My MS patients are few since I’m not a neurologist, but I’ve seen improvement in my several patients with MS who have their low level treated. (see #9 and #12 on multiple sclerosis).
Vitamin D allows the body to make a class of natural antibotics. In the May,2010
issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a rigorously designed randomized, double blind, controlled study gave children either vitamin D or placebo during the flu season. The diagnosis of influenza A was made only when it was confirmed by culture. The vitamin D children had 42% less influenza A than the placebo children. An unexpected result was that the vitamin D children had an 83% reduction in asthma attacks. Previous studies have shown that 70% of children have vitamin D levels of less than 32 ng., and that the average vitamin D level is 20% lower in this decade than when we were children. (see #14 on influenza).
The findings on vitamin D sound “too good to be true” In the past several decades there has been wild claims about vitamin C and E that were known by some to be inaccurate shortly after they were published. There was always a great deal of skepticism by experts and there was never a consensus. In contrast. the vitamin D studies are extensive and accurate. An international consortium of vitamin D experts in a worldwide vitamin D call to action on March 31, 2011.
Should it be a surprise that vitamin D has such a profound effect on humans? The human body has about 2000 genes. A study in the August, 2010, Genome Research explained that vitamin D has been identified as having a significant effect on the activity of 229 genes (about 10%) by binding to 2776 sites on these genes. Humans have gone through periods of time of food shortages, but for a very long time humans had a very much higher level of vitamin D, as there was never a shortage of this near the equator.