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Vitamin D -- The Master Key to Optimal Health

March 12, 2009 | 83,133 views
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Dr. Robert Heaney explains why the sunshine vitamin is so vitally important, and how a single nutrient can have so many effects.


Vitamin D Dose Recommendations
Age Dosage
Below 5 35 units per pound per day
Age 5 - 10 2500 units
Adults 5000 units
Pregnant Women 5000 units
WARNING:
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.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

Additionally, a robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

In this video clip with Dr. Heaney, you get a better understanding of how it is that vitamin D can have such a vast number of health benefits.

I have interviewed many of the leading experts in the vitamin D world and it is clear that Dr. Heaney has earned the respect of all of them.  He is greatly admired in that arena as a leader and pioneer; as someone who has and continues to push the envelope, and applies practical knowledge to reduce human suffering.

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, or read medical news in the conventional media, you may have noticed that newly discovered benefits of the “sunshine vitamin” are published on a regular basis these days.

What Makes Vitamin D so Special?

First, it’s important to realize that vitamin D is not “just a vitamin,” but rather the only known substrate for a potent, pleiotropic (meaning it produces multiple effects), repair and maintenance seco-steroid hormone that serves multiple gene-regulatory functions in your body.

As Dr. Heaney so vividly explains here, each cell in your body has its own DNA library that contains information needed to deal with virtually every kind of stimulus it may encounter, and the master key to enter this library is activated vitamin D.  

For example, memory ductile cells in the breast need vitamin D to access DNA that enables the response to estrogen.

So naturally, without sufficient amounts of vitamin D, your cells cannot access their DNA libraries and their functions are thereby impaired.  

This is why vitamin D functions in so many different tissues, and affects such a large number of different diseases and health conditions. So far, scientists have found about 3,000 genes that are upregulated by vitamin D.

Receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones. And researchers keep finding health benefits from vitamin D in virtually every area they look.

Vitamin D Deficiency May Radically Hamper Your Overall Health

Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, including the flu. It produces over 200 anti microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic.

At least five studies show an inverse association between lower respiratory tract infections and 25(OH)D levels.  That is, the higher your vitamin D level, the lower your risk of contracting colds, flu, and other respiratory tract infections:

1.   A 2007 study suggests higher vitamin D status enhances your immunity to microbial infections. They found that subjects with vitamin D deficiency had significantly more days of absence from work due to respiratory infection than did control subjects.

2.   A 2009 study on vitamin D deficiency in newborns with acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) confirmed a strong, positive correlation between newborns’ and mother’s vitamin D levels. Over 87 percent of all newborns and over 67 percent of all mothers had vitamin D levels lower than 20 ng/ml, which is a severe deficiency state.

Newborns with vitamin D deficiency appear to have an increased risk of developing ALRI, and since the child’s vitamin D level strongly correlates with its mother’s, the researchers recommend that all mothers’ optimize their vitamin D levels during pregnancy, especially in the winter months, to safeguard their baby’s health.

3.   A similar Indian study published in 2004 also reported that vitamin D deficiency in infants significantly raised their odds ratio for having severe ALRI.

4.   A 2009 analysis of the Third National Health andNutrition Examination Survey examined the association between vitamin D levels and recent upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) in nearly 19,000 subjects over the age of 12.

Recent URTI was reported by:

  • 17 percent of participants with vitamin D levels of 30ng/ml or higher

     

  • 20 percent of participants with vitamin D levels between 10-30 ng/ml.

     

  • 24 percent of participants with vitamin D levels below 10ng/ml

     

The positive correlation between lower vitamin D levels and increased risk of URTI was even stronger inindividuals with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

5.   Another 2009 report in the journal Pediatric Research stated that infants and children appear more susceptible to viral rather than bacterial infections when deficient in vitamin D. And that, based on the available evidence showing a strong connection between vitamin D, infections, and immune function in children, vitamin D supplementation may be a valuable therapy in pediatric medicine.

Optimizing your vitamin D levels can also help you to prevent as many as 16 different types of cancer including pancreatic, lung, breast, ovarian, prostate, and colon cancers.

But perhaps most important to note is that vitamin D can lower your risk of dying from any cause, according to a new European meta-analysis published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007.

Another group of researchers have calculated that simply increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year, as the widespread vitamin D deficiency seen today is now thought to fuel an astonishingly diverse array of common chronic diseases, such as:

 Cancer

 Hypertension

 Heart disease

 Autism

 Obesity

 Rheumatoid arthritis

 Diabetes 1 and 2

 Multiple Sclerosis

 Crohn’s disease

 Cold & Flu

 Inflammatory Bowel Disease

 Tuberculosis

 Septicemia

 Signs of aging

 Dementia

 Eczema & Psoriasis

 Insomnia

 Hearing loss

 Muscle pain

 Cavities

 Periodontal disease

 Osteoporosis

 Macular degeneration

 Reduced C-section risk

 Pre eclampsia

 Seizures

 Infertility

 Asthma

 Cystic fibrosis

 Migraines

 Depression

 Alzheimer’s disease

 Schizophrenia

It’s absolutely tragic that dermatologists and sunscreen manufacturers have done such a thorough job of scaring people out of the sun – your optimal source for natural vitamin D. I believe this is one of the major influences that has contributed to the vitamin D epidemic we’re now facing.

But Why Doesn’t Everyone Get the Same Dysfunctions When Deficient?

That’s a good question.

As Dr. Heaney explains, cells do have alternative ways to access their DNA information – they can work around the problem without the proper plans, so to speak -- but it’s never quite as effective.  

Depending on your overall state of health and other dysfunctions, your cells may be more or less efficient at finding effective work-arounds, and this will determine how your health is affected if you’re vitamin D deficient.

Health Benefits are Dose Dependent

It’s important to note, however, that reaping the health benefits of vitamin D is not like turning a light switch. It’s not a matter of having ‘some vitamin D’ or not – it’s all a question of dose.

In order to reap the benefits you need to make sure your levels are within therapeutic range.

According to Dr. Heaney, your body requires 4,000 IU’s daily just to maintain its current vitamin D level. So in order to raise your levels, you’d have to increase either your exposure to sunshine, or supplement with oral vitamin D3 (which I do not recommend without having your levels tested first).

For all the latest information on therapeutic vitamin D levels, and vital updates on testing, please review my article: Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.

One thing is clear. If you maintain optimal vitamin D levels, your cells will function optimally; helping to prevent all manner of disease, and maintain good health.

For a great overview of the nearly unbelievable health benefits of this vitamin, I strongly recommend you watch my one-hour free vitamin D lecture.