The AP is reporting new research linking low vitamin D levels with deaths from heart disease and other causes. In fact, patients with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D were about two times more likely to die from any cause during the next eight years than those with the highest levels, the study found. The link with heart-related deaths was particularly strong in those with low vitamin D levels.
The results of this study do not prove that low levels of vitamin D are harmful, but the circumstantial evidence is, in my mind, becoming overwhelming.
Exactly how low vitamin D levels might contribute to heart problems and deaths from other illnesses is uncertain, although it is has been shown to help regulate the body’s disease-fighting immune system.
Although the AP reports that “experts say the results shouldn’t be seen as a reason to start popping vitamin D pills or to spend hours in the sun, which is the main source for vitamin D,” I’d beg to differ.
Readers of this blog know that vitamin D doses of up to 1,000 IU in adults, and 2000 IU in adolescents have been shown to be safe.
Earlier this month, I told you about a study (published in this same journal) low vitamin D levels with heart attacks.
I’ve told you about research linking low vitamin D with high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle weakness, falls, fractures, and obesity.
In addition, low vitamin D levels also have been linked with several kinds of cancer and some researchers believe the vitamin could even be used to help prevent malignancies.
Furthermore, it has been estimated that at least 50% of older adults worldwide have low vitamin D levels, and the problem is also thought to affect substantial numbers of younger people.
The Institute of Medicine’s current vitamin D recommendations are 200 IU a daily for children and adults up to age 50, and 400 to 600 IU for older adults.
But, I’m with those who believe these amounts are far too low and recommend taking supplements. And, the AMA at its annual meeting last week agreed to urge a review of the recommendations.
In the meantime, here’s what I recommend: 400 IU a daily for children, 600 – 800 IU for adults up to age 50, and 800 to 1,000 IU for older adults.