An article in today’s New York Times focuses on yet more studies extolling the importance of vitamin D3.
It begins: “People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to die from cancer and heart disease and to suffer from other illnesses, scientists reported in two large studies published on Tuesday.”
A 35 percent increased risk of death from heart disease and a 14 percent greater chance of death from cancer were noted with low vitamin D levels, as well as a “greater mortality risk overall.”
Supplements of vitamin D2 did not show a similar benefit in the research. “But vitamin D3 — which is the type found in fish and dairy products and produced in response to sunlight — had an 11 percent reduction in mortality from all causes, compared to adults who did not.” However, it is difficult to get adequate amounts from food.
This doesn’t mean everyone has low vitamin D levels and needs supplements, of course. See our article on testing vitamin D levels here.
Lack of exposure to sunlight in the West due to lifestyle habits and fear of skin cancer has played a role in decreasing levels of Vitamin D3, the “sunshine vitamin.” Our Western diets high in processed foods and unhealthful foods are also thought to be linked to the low levels of vitamin D, according to the researchers. While some are calling for more studies before making recommendations, chances are there won’t be enough of those to satisfy skeptics during our lifetime. So you need to make a decision now.
The article quotes Duffy MacKay, a spokesman for the Council for Responsible Nutrition who agreed that while research is needed to determine an optimal dose, “there is enough positive research currently to indicate that people should be supplementing with vitamin D for a variety of positive health outcomes.”
Of course, as always the advice is: Check with your doctor. But be sure your healthcare practitioner is knowledgeable about nutrient therapy, or the advice you receive could be misguided.
How should you get your vitamin D?
The Vitamin D Council provides an excellent guide on how to get vitamin D from sunlight and also gives advice on how much to take in supplement form. See this resource here.