Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is also called the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D3. We spend our days trying to avoid the sun – the fear of increasing our risk of skin cancer. Darker skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen. It slows the generation of vitamin D3. The darker your skin pigment, the longer exposure to the sun it takes for your body to make vitamin D3. Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and fatty fish are the usual food sources of vitamin D3. Many people take supplements to increase their vitamin D3 level.
Older studies set the minimum level of vitamin D3 at 30 ng/ml of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Newer research sets the minimal level at 50 ng/ml. Vitamin D3 is weight dependent. If you are overweight, you need more vitamin D3. If this test is not part of your annual blood screening, talk to your doctor about adding it to the list.
Vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with many diseases beyond heart disease. It is critical for good health. Vitamin D3 is required to transport calcium to your bones. A deficiency in vitamin D3 increases the risk of osteoporosis. In 2009, the New England Journal of Medicine reported a significant difference in mortality rates with intensive care unit (ICU) patients. Those patients deficient in vitamin D3 had a 45 percent mortality rate in the ICU compared to a 16 percent mortality rate for those patients with more optimal levels of vitamin D3.
Another study of 818 stroke patients revealed that there was a 90 percent improvement in overall function after a stroke in those patients with optimal levels of vitamin D3. When a stroke occurs, 40 percent of victims experience moderate to severe debilitation. Fifteen percent die relatively quickly after the onset of a stroke.
There is a very high correlation between low levels of vitamin D3 and multiple sclerosis (MS). Part of this correlation is related to exposure to sunshine. In Canada, MS is found in 291 of every 100,000 people. Above the 37th parallel in the United State, MS rates occur at 110-140 cases per 100,000 people. Below the 37th parallel, the rate falls to 57-78 cases per 100,000 people.
Vitamin D3 is necessary for the proper function of your body. If you don’t know what your level is, please get it tested. Talk to your physician about periodic tests to validate that the level of supplementation is correct to keep your vitamin D3 levels at the optimal level.