The long, dark days of winter are here. In the spring, millions of Americans may find that winter has left them with a vitamin D deficiency. Your chances of being one of them are probably much greater than you think.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin in response to sunlight exposure, but few people achieve optimal levels this way, in part due to the limited ultraviolet light available during the winter months. Alarming new research suggests that there are real dangers of vitamin D deficiency, including:
- The Flu – In a study published in the Cambridge Journals, researchers found that vitamin D deficiency predisposes children to respiratory diseases. An intervention study showed that vitamin D reduces the incidence of respiratory infections in children.
- Cardiovascular disease – Congestive heart failure is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Research conducted at Harvard University among nurses found that women with low vitamin D levels had a 67 percent increased risk of developing hypertension.
- Muscle Weakness – Muscle weakness is usually caused by vitamin D deficiency because for skeletal muscles to function properly, their vitamin D receptors must be sustained by vitamin D.
- Cancer – Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center discovered a connection between high vitamin D intake and reduced risk of breast cancer. These findings, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, revealed that increased doses of the sunshine vitamin were linked to a 75 percent reduction in overall cancer growth and 50 percent reduction in tumor cases among those already having the disease.
- Psoriasis – In a study published by the UK researchers found the vitamin D supplementation was useful in the treatment of psoriasis.
- Chronic Kidney Disease – People with advanced chronic kidney diseases (especially those requiring dialysis) are often unable to make the active form of vitamin D. D3 supplementation is necessary to decrease the risk of renal bone disease and regulate parathyroid hormone levels.
- Diabetes – A Finish longitudinal study featured in Lancet.com gave 10,366 children 2000 IU per day of vitamin D3 during their first day of life. The children were monitored for 31 years and in all of them, the risk of type 1 diabetes was reduced by 80 percent.
- Asthma – Vitamin D may reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Research conducted in Japan revealed that asthma attacks in school children were significantly lowered in those subjects taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 1200 IU a day.
- Periodontal Disease – Those suffering from this chronic gum disease that causes swelling and bleeding of the gums should consider raising their vitamin D levels to produce compounds that contain microbial properties and lower the number of bacteria in the mouth.
- Schizophrenia and Depression – Both of these have been linked to vitamin D deficiency. In one study, it was discovered that maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels among pregnant women and during childhood was necessary to satisfy the vitamin D receptor in the brain responsible for brain development and mental function maintenance in later life.