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Vitamin D: The One Vitamin That is Vital for Your Heart

December 18, 2008 | 79,009 views

sunlight, sun, sun exposure, vitamin DA lack of vitamin D, a nutrient that is generated primarily through exposure to sunlight, helps boost the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Experts estimate that up to half of adults and 30 percent of children and teenagers in the United States are vitamin D-deficient. There is a wide array of studies linking increased cardiovascular risk with vitamin D deficiency. For example, recent data from the long-running Framingham Heart Study indicated that someone with vitamin D levels below 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood is twice as likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular problem within two years compared to those with higher levels.

Vitamin D is well known as the "sunshine vitamin" because human skin makes the nutrient upon exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
Age Dosage
Below 5 35 units per pound per day
Age 5 - 10 2500 units
Age 18 - 30 5000 units
Pregnant Women 5000 units
There is no way to know if the above recommendations are correct. The ONLY way to know is to test your blood. You might need 4-5 times the amount recommended above. Ideally your blood level of 25 OH D should be 60ng/ml.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I’ve been writing a lot about vitamin D lately, and that’s because I want it to sink in with each and every one of you reading this just how important it is for your health. I even recorded a one-hour vitamin D lecture on the topic to help clear up any confusion.

At this time there are at least 36 organ tissues in your body whose cells respond biologically to vitamin D, including bone marrow, breast, colon, intestine, kidney, lung, prostate, retina, skin, stomach and uterine tissues.

One of these organs is also your heart, for which vitamin D is essential.

There are a number of physiological mechanisms triggered by vitamin D production through sunlight exposure that act to fight heart disease, such as:

• An increase in your body's natural anti-inflammatory cytokines
• The suppression of vascular calcification
• The inhibition of vascular smooth muscle growth

And according to Dr. James H. O'Keefe, director of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City and the lead author of the above study:

"There are a whole array of studies linking increased cardiovascular risk with vitamin D deficiency. It is associated with major risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and stiffening of the left ventricle of the heart and blood vessels. Inflammation is really important for heart disease, and people with vitamin D deficiency have increased inflammation."

Aside from heart disease, vitamin D influences up to 3,000 of the 30,000 genes in your body, helping to prevent diseases ranging from cancer to the flu.

Unfortunately, it’s thought that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens and African Americans may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the American public.

How Much Should You Get (Hint: Don’t Listen to the RDA)?

I recently did an expert interview and interviewed one of the top vitamin D experts in the world, Robert Heaney, MD. He has been studying vitamin D for over five decades and was one of the consultants that served on the board in 1997 that actually made the recommendations for our current vitamin D RDAs.

I won’t be posting his interview till the spring but he told me that over 98% of what is known about vitamin D was learned since 1997. This was largely because prior to that time there was no simple blood measurement to detect vitamin D levels.

Be that as it may, the current RDA for vitamin D developed by the Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies is miserably insufficient as it is only:

• 200 IU for people aged 14-50
• 400 IU for people aged 51-70
• 600 IU for people over 71

The American Academy of Pediatrics has even recently doubled its recommendation for vitamin D in children to 400 IU a day, and that is also completely inadequate.

There’s simply no way to reap any benefit whatsoever from these abysmally low amounts.

Consider this -- in the summertime when you put on your bathing suit and sunbathe, your body produces about 20,000 IUs of vitamin D!

You might wonder how long you need to sunbathe, well the answer is that it depends and is highly variable. The time you need to generate maximum vitamin D is how long it takes for your skin to turn the lightest pink when you are outdoors. This is called the MED or minimal erythemal dose. For some people it could be a few minutes while for others it may actually be hours.

Once you have this exposure it makes absolutely NO SENSE to continue to expose your skin to the sun as you will only increase your risk of premature skin aging, wrinkling and skin cancer.

During the winter or times when you have no or very limited exposure to sunshine, you can make up for the lack of sunlight by using a safe tanning bed or taking a high-quality natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement.

How much should you take? 4,000-5,000 units per day is appropriate for most adults. If you are very heavy you may need to double that dose, and for children the dose can be half that.

Important Information About Vitamin D Testing

It’s possible to overdose on vitamin D when you take it in supplement form. Because of this it’s very important that you monitor your vitamin D levels by blood testing to make sure your levels are therapeutic and not toxic.

I advocate getting your vitamin D levels tested regularly, but as I reported recently, you now need to beware of where you’re getting your test done. For an in-depth explanation of what you MUST know before you get tested, please read my updated article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.

Again, I also strongly suggest that you set aside 60 minutes to watch my recent vitamin D lecture. I honestly believe that this is one of the MOST important videos I have ever created.

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