It’s Memorial Day — the unofficial start of summer. So let me just take a moment to remind you about the importance of taking vitamin D year round… especially if you’re a postmenopausal woman.
I know I write a lot about vitamin D. And why wouldn’t I? Nearly every week, a new study is published linking this essential nutrient to yet another aspect of good health. And now there’s one more to add to the list.
A recent study showed that postmenopausal women with low vitamin D are at a significantly higher risk of metabolic syndrome. Not to mention a couple of other cardiovascular red flags, including high triglycerides and low levels of protective HDL cholesterol.
Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but this is a major problem. Not just because D deficiency is so common among the general population. But because — thanks to steep declines in estrogen — postmenopausal women already face an elevated risk of metabolic syndrome (and by extension, heart disease).
This study defined vitamin D levels as:
- Deficient – below 20 ng/mL
- Insufficient – any level between 20 and 29 ng/mL
- Sufficient – Anything 30 ng/mL or higher
As you and I both know, 30 ng/mL is anything but sufficient. Still, if levels even that low are enough to ward off disease, it just makes it that much harder to argue with the results.
Specifically, more than 57 percent of the women with vitamin D levels below 30 ng/mL had metabolic syndrome.
Just as a reminder, metabolic syndrome is marked by at least three of these five symptoms:
- High waist circumference
- Elevated triglycerides
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
And low vitamin D levels were linked to several of these individual risk factors, too — including high total cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high insulin levels (pointing, of course, to diabetes-fueling insulin resistance).
All told, vitamin D deficiency raised the odds of high triglycerides by 55 percent — and odds of low HDL cholesterol by 60 percent. The lower the vitamin D level, the more metabolic syndrome boxes these postmenopausal women were likely to check.
With that said, I know it’s summer, and you’ll probably be out in the sun a lot more — which is great! But still, that’s no reason to stop supplementing with vitamin D. Because even if you’re getting 20 minutes of sunshine every single day, it’s still not likely to be enough to get your levels where they need to be (unless you live in South Florida).
I recommend getting your levels tested at your next doctor’s appointment. (Just ask for the 25(OH)D blood test.) Ultimately, you want to aim for a level of about 80 ng/mL — which is obviously much higher than the 30 ng/mL “sufficient” threshold this study used (which is also what most doctors go by).
And you’ll never achieve that optimal number if you follow the typical, measly dosage recommendation of 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day.
In fact, I take 10,000 IU per day. For most patients, I recommend starting with at least 5,000 per day, with follow-up blood testing every three months to ensure you’re getting your levels up where they need to be.
Lastly, if you or someone you love is suffering with metabolic syndrome, there are a number of safe, natural strategies you can use to stop it from getting worse…and even reverse it. In fact, I’ve developed a step-by-step Metabolic Repair Protocol for preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Click here to find out more and sign up today!