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December 2022
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D’s Deliverance

The Vitamin that ‘D’etermines Death?

Utah researchers find evidence suggesting levels of vitamin D influences risk of death.

Utah researchers find evidence suggesting levels of vitamin D influences risk of death.

Vitamin D just can’t seem to stay out of the news, this time making headlines in one of the country’s healthiest states, as two-thirds of Utahns are deficient in this all-important vitamin.  And because they’re deficient, Utahns are at an increased risk for death!

It doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?  How can a state that’s consistently ranked among the country’s healthiest states (likely due to the state’s high Mormon population, as Mormons have a rather strict health code) be so at risk for dying?  Could vitamin D really play that big of a role for overall health?

According to researchers from the Heart Institute in Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Medical Center, absolutely!

They realized vitamin D’s importance after charting the vitamin D levels of 28,000 50-year-olds, all of whom had no history of heart disease.  Based on where those levels tended to hover over the year of observation, they were put in one of three groups:  normal, low, or very low (as many reports have indicated in past years, vitamin D levels among Americans overwhelmingly tend to be too low than too high).  They were also interested to see if any health complications resulted over that time period, paying special attention to symptoms and signs indicative of heart disease.

Their findings?  In a word, sobering.

For example, individuals with “very low” levels of vitamin D were 77 percent more likely to have died in that year, 45 percent more likely to have coronary heart disease, and 78 percent more likely to have had a stroke.

The findings, published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, further emphasize health officials’ need to review the recommended vitamin D levels for all individuals.  Health officials have already increased the recommended levels of vitamin D for kids, doubling the recommended amount from 200 IUs per day to 400 IUs per day.  Despite this recommendation, it’s estimated that 6 million kids in the country are still deficient in this all-important vitamin.

The time has come for health officials to institute a recommended increase for all individuals, regardless of age or gender.  According to the Institutes of Health, people are recommended to consume the same amount as kids:  400 IUs per day.  This is woefully inadequate, and—given the fact that the 400 IU vitamin D recommendation came over a year ago—woefully outdated.

Unless you’re a descendant of Benjamin Button, none of us are getting any younger.  As we age, our bones grow more and more brittle, so adults need vitamin D—i.e., bone food—every bit as much growing kids do.  Thus, this study’s researchers recommend as much as 2,000 IUs to 5,000 IUs per day.

The best source of vitamin D is the sun, but other sources include salmon and mackerel.  A four ounce serving of each has around 350 IUs, so you’ll need to either spend some time in the sun or supplement with a high quality vitamin D supplement as well.

You can find out about your vitamin D levels with a simple blood test.

(Note:  For those interested in why Utahns are so low in vitamin D levels, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune, it’s due to a multitude of factors, including the sun not emitting the same amount of UV radiation on Utah due to its geographical location).


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