I know I talk about vitamin D a lot in this space. But there’s a very good reason for that.
Vitamin D supplementation saves lives.
That’s not an exaggeration. It’s a research-proven fact. And today, I’d like to discuss the latest study to top the ever-growing pile of evidence in its favor.
This study found that vitamin D deficient seniors have seriously compromised immunity. And this contributes to elevated heart disease biomarkers and inflammation. (Which, as I’ve explained many times before, is the real root of all disease.)
Researchers tested nearly 1,000 older adults (all of them were at least 60) for their blood serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. They also assessed the subjects’ immune function, focusing on inflammatory markers like IL-6, TNF-alpha, IL-10, and C-reactive protein (CRP).
As you may recall, CRP is the most reliable blood marker for inflammation. And it’s also a big fat red flag for heart disease. That’s the beauty of this study, really. Researchers collected all of this information in the lab. And blood chemistry doesn’t lie.
In this case, it also offers another critical reason to take vitamin D every single day. Subjects who were D deficient were significantly more likely to have high levels of the inflammatory markers I listed above.
And these biomarkers aren’t just responsible for heart attacks. They’re linked to everything from arthritis to multiple sclerosis.
This is vitally important information. Because most people already know all about the role of vitamin D in maintaining bone density. But this nutrient’s role in maintaining the integrity of your immune system is just as critical.
And it’s not just older individuals who benefit, either. (Although as this study clearly underscores, immune health is a much more serious issue as you age.) Anyone can get a boost from a little extra vitamin D. At the very least, it’s an effective alternative to the annual flu shot.
That’s why I make vitamin D status a top priority at my office. I test every single one of my patients four times per year. And in almost every instance, I prescribe a daily vitamin D supplement.
I went over this protocol a couple of weeks ago. But I can’t stress the importance of this regimen enough. So let’s go over the details again briefly.
Optimal levels of vitamin D—enough to really fortify immune function in older adults—simply aren’t possible with the measly 2,000 IU per day your doctor will likely recommend if you’re deficient. (And that’s assuming he or she even recommends vitamins at all.)
Many of my patients balk—and are even a little afraid—when I tell them to take 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. But that’s exactly the dose I take. And I’ve never felt better. The fact is, you need to take an adequate dose to keep your blood levels between 80 and 100. And, in most cases, 2,000 IU per day won’t cut it.
Obviously, sunshine is also an effective way to get more vitamin D. (The best way, actually.) And especially now that spring has arrived, I definitely encourage you to take advantage of it.
But this strategy comes with some caveats.
If you want to get any substantial vitamin D from the sun, you must get full mid-day sun exposure over most of your body, without sunscreen, for twenty minutes per day. If you’re able to do that consistently, you may be able to taper back your vitamin D supplement dose to 5,000 IU during the summer months. But be sure to keep getting your levels tested…and if they’re not between 80 and 100, by all means, increase your dose until they get there.
“Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Inflammation in Older Irish Adults” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Feb 25:jc20133507.