Now here’s something that really drives me nuts.
A new study found that postmenopausal women who supplemented with calcium and vitamin D for two years had significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels than women who didn’t.
Yes, I’m talking about significantly lower “bad” cholesterol. (Though it’s not nearly as bad as the statin drug companies would have you believe. But that’s a discussion for another day.)
Still, for people with serious cholesterol problems, this is big news. Calcium and vitamin D supplements are dirt cheap compared to pharmaceuticals. They can also kill two birds with one stone (by decreasing your risk for cardiac events and warding off osteoporosis).
Yet, sadly—and you probably know what I’m going to say next—this story broke with zero fanfare. You could hear a pin drop.
Granted, the drop in LDL cholesterol was small in this case—just 4.5 mg/dL. But I really don’t see why that makes it any less newsworthy.
We’re still talking about a statistically significant reduction. And you can bet that if a drug company developed a compound that lowered cholesterol so effectively, everyone in the U S of A would be forced into taking it.
Especially because, according to this new study, supplementation with calcium/vitamin D did more than just lower LDL cholesterol levels. It also lowered triglyceride levels. (And those are the nasty fats you do really need to worry about). Calcium and vitamin D also raised levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
Just to put these benefits into perspective—the mainstream’s favorite heart “remedy,” statins, can’t lower triglyceride levels. And they barely budge HDL levels. Statins are a one-trick pony. And the risks involved simply aren’t worth the supposed “benefit.”
Calcium and vitamin D, on the other hand, are essential nutrients your body needs to survive. And the fact that they also offer these significant healing benefits for your heart? Well, that’s just icing on the cake.
So, how much do you need?
Well, as in most supplement studies, subjects with the highest blood levels of vitamin D fared the best.
These researchers considered vitamin D levels greater than 30 to be high enough to see a meaningful effect. That barely even qualifies as a “sufficient” blood level. Yet the subjects still showed significant improvements. So just imagine the benefits they would have seen had the subjects supplemented with enough to reach optimal blood levels.
The real level you want to achieve for optimal health is around 80. 2,000-5,000 IU of D3 is the minimum that I typically recommend—even with 20 minutes of mid-day sun every day. But if you’re vitamin D deficient, you may need as much as 10,000 IU per day. As always, you should work closely with a doctor who can help you keep close tabs on your levels and adjust your dose accordingly.
As for calcium, I usually recommend my female patients take 500 mg in tablet form per day.