The vitamin you simply can’t do without.

Some things simply cannot be hammered home strongly enough. And what I’m about to say is one of them. So make a giant sign and stick it on your refrigerator. Set a reminder on your phone. Do whatever it takes. Just always remember to take your vitamin D3. It’s one of the most important (and easiest) ways to benefit your health.

According to yet another study extolling the virtues of vitamin D3, increased blood levels of this amazing super vitamin are associated with significantly lower risks of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, fractures, and total mortality.

This was a British study looking at data collected over 13 years from about 15,000 people (men and women between the ages of 42 and 82).

Researchers found that for every 20-nmol/L increase in 25(OH)D (the form of vitamin D stored in the body) the participants experienced

  • 4 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease risk
  • 11 percent decrease in risk of respiratory disease
  • 11 percent decrease in risk of fractures
  • 8 percent decrease in all-cause mortality

Not bad for a simple vitamin.

But what I really want to talk about today is something else this study pointed out.

In this study, the highest mortality rates were observed in people whose vitamin D levels were below 30. But what’s frightening is that most labs consider a level of 30 “normal.” In fact, for most labs, the normal range is enormous: 30 to 100. So if your doctor tests your level and it’s 31, chances are he’ll tell you don’t need to take vitamin D…which is rubbish. Every study, including this one, points out that the higher the level, the better the health outcome.

And there was no evidence for increased risk (of mortality or any other negative side effect) in those participants with levels above 80. So why aren’t we all shooting for that level? It’s what I strive for myself and recommend to my patients. And I encourage you to aim for a minimum of 80 as well.

This is why I recommend higher doses than most physicians. You see, it takes more than the measly 400 IU of vitamin D you’ll find in most multivitamins to boost your levels to a truly optimal (not just “normal”) range. I know a lot of people are afraid of big doses of vitamins. But in this instance it’s not only extremely safe, it’s absolutely necessary.

Just to drive this point home: you could search for hours (days, even) and not turn up a single report of severe vitamin D overdose. But give me 15 minutes and I could find you millions of examples of the consequences of not having enough of this essential nutrient.

Bottom line: Make sure you know your vitamin D level. Don’t let your doctor gloss over it when she or he is reviewing your bloodwork. And don’t let him convince you that you don’t need a vitamin D supplement. If your level isn’t between 80 and 100, take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day. And have your levels checked at least twice per year.

Yet another strike against sugar

At this point, you’re well aware sugar does terrible things to the body. Still, I’m going to keep giving you examples of how bad it is, just in case you’re still hanging on to that soda can.

A very recent study from the University of Southern California showed that adolescent rats who freely consumed large quantities of liquid solutions containing sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) experienced memory problems and brain inflammation. (Not surprisingly they also became pre-diabetic.)

Granted, this was a rat study—and I don’t typically put much stock in those. But what I found interesting here is that the concentrations of sugar and HFCS the researchers fed the rats were comparable to what you find in popular sugar-sweetened beverages people drink every single day.

And that was all it took to seriously impair their brain function. In particular, the researchers found inflammation in the hippocampus of the rats. The hippocampus controls memory formation.

The lead researcher concluded: “Consuming a diet high in added sugars not only can lead to weight gain and metabolic disturbances, but can also negatively impact our neural functioning and cognitive ability.”

Yet another reason why it’s essential not just to “cut back” on sugar. You need to eliminate it altogether—at least if you want to remember stuff.


“Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, mortality, and incident cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancers, and fractures: a 13-y prospective population study,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, epub ahead of print 9/17/14

“Sugar linked to memory problems in adolescent rats.” ScienceDaily, 10/7/14

“Effects of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup consumption on spatial memory function and hippocampal neuroinflammation in adolescent rats,” Hippocampus, epub ahead of print 10/3/14