I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the importance of vitamin D lately—not least of all because of its pivotal role in the fight against COVID-19.
Still, I wanted to take some time to remind you that this nutrient is a lifesaver… even in non-pandemic times. And as the latest research illustrates, maintaining optimal levels will help to keep you alive long after the novel coronavirus is behind us.
Deficiency slashes your lifespan
This new, large study looked at data from nearly 2,000 middle-aged and elderly participants of the European Male Ageing Study. The goal was to assess links between vitamin D status and mortality risk.
These researchers also took measurement methods into consideration. Which makes their results particularly noteworthy—because we all know that conventional medical doctors are notoriously bad at identifying the best markers of nutritional status and hormonal balance in the body.
As you might expect, vitamin D levels predicted all-cause mortality in this group—and more specifically, levels of free 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood levels (25[OH]D).
Here’s why that matters: Most studies look at how total levels of 25(OH)D correlate to disease and mortality. But free 25(OH)D is the biologically active form—and yet it comprises less than one percent of the total measurement of these vitamin D metabolites.
This research set out to determine which fraction of metabolites—total or free—would be most important for predicting mortality. And surprise, surprise… free 25(OH)D came out on top.
In fact, men with the lowest levels of free 25(OH)D levels had a 91 percent higher risk of death from any cause compared to men with the highest levels.
Unfortunately, it’s not common practice to measure for free 25(OH)D. (Though hopefully this research may help to change that.) But the good news is that total 25(OH)D was still a reliable predictor of mortality risk—albeit a weaker one.
Sufficient isn’t good enough
Clearly, we’re talking about a serious issue here. It’s one that we must get better at identifying and treating effectively—from testing to supplementation.
So, allow me to reiterate: Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common—especially with age. So it really shouldn’t surprise anyone that it has links to everything from heart disease, to cancer, to osteoporosis.
But despite growing awareness, it still happens far too often… partly because so many doctors still don’t know the right recommendations to make.
So here is my resounding advice…
Most labs will indicate that a level of 30 ng/mL is sufficient. But that just isn’t good enough. I like my patients’ to reach optimal levels between 80 and 100 ng/mL—because really, that’s where all the health benefits kick in. That’s why I recommend at least 125 mcg (5,000 IU) of D3 per day to maintain those levels.
But I often prescribe as much as 10,000 IU (250 mcg) to my patients. There is no reason to be afraid of these dosages—with consistent monitoring, they’re perfectly safe. In fact, I take 10,000 (250 mcg) to 15,000 (375 mcg) IU per day to keep my levels around 90 to 100.
Not to mention, higher doses are particularly necessary in the winter, when sunlight exposure takes a nosedive. So if you haven’t given your intake a seasonal boost, don’t wait another day to start. (And ask your doctor to check your levels every six months to ensure you’re maintaining optimal levels throughout the year.)
For more information on why vitamin D is the “must-have” supplement you need in your medicine cabinet this winter, check out the current issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. Not yet a subscriber? Now is the perfect time to become one!
“Low Free 25(OH)D Vitamin D Is Best Predictor of Mortality.” Medscape Medical News, 09/21/2020. (medscape.com/viewarticle/937756)