The health benefits of vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of degenerative disease comprise a long and growing list, according to government statistics. In addition to bone health (rickets, osteoporosis), the sunshine vitamin may play some role in the prevention and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis and more.
According to a Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet on Vitamin D by the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health (NIH), a growing body of research suggests that vitamin D may prevent and treat the following health conditions:
Most evidence for these roles comes from in vitro, animal, and epidemiological studies, not the randomized clinical trials considered to be more definitive. Until such trials are established, the implications of the available evidence for public health and patient care will be debated.
The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA), announced on Jan. 18, 2011 it is filing a Qualified Health Claim Petition with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for vitamin D.
The ANH-USA describes itself as part of an international organization dedicated to promoting sustainable health and freedom of choice in healthcare through good science and good law.
For years, the FDA held that health claims for supplements such as vitamin D, could only be made if there was Significant Scientific Agreement (SSA) about the claim -- a standard almost impossible to reach in science. Following court losses, the Agency finally acknowledged in 2003 that consumers benefit from more information.
As a result, the agency has established interim procedures whereby "qualified" health claims can be made, so long as the claims are not misleading.
The ANH-USA commented:
Speculation is that the petition is likely to highlight vitamin D's link to reduced rates of certain types of cancer, where 800 studies are concentrated. If the FDA accepts the petition, vitamin D manufacturers will be able to let consumers know about certain diseases and health conditions that can be helped by vitamin D.
For the decade of 2000 to 2010 there are literally thousands of research studies involving vitamin D health. Emerging evidence in the literature suggests an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency globally, as defined by blood levels of 25(OH)D less than 32 ng.ml.
Studies substantiate an association between these suboptimal serum levels and higher morbidity and mortality from cancer and many other diseases.
Do these studies substantiate an inverse relationship between all the diseases studied and vitamin D levels? Many experts on Vitamin D promote precisely that premise. What this means is in these studies, there exists the strong evidence that the lower the vitamin D level in a person’s blood, the higher the incidence of that disease. Inversely, the higher the D blood level, the lower the disease incidence.
Since its discovery in 1922, vitamin D has been known primarily for its role in bone health. Following a decade of intensive research, it appears that the nutrient’s importance spreads far wider than just bone health. However, additional randomized clinical trials are necessary before clinical conclusions can be drawn.
The list of benefits of vitamin D goes on and on. Here’s a sampling of other health conditions that preliminary studies link to blood levels of the D vitamin:
This is a partial list of benefits of vitamin D as related to a large spectrum of health issues.
As early as May, 2003 a clinical study, Vitamin D in preventive medicine: are we ignoring the evidence?, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, suggested that a daily supplement of vitamin D can help to benefit most people, and can especially help to improve symptoms of many chronic disorders.
The study inversely linked increasing evidence as to the relation of vitamin D deficiency to the development of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, as well as different forms of cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.
An undertow of excitement is streaming through the medical community extolling the health benefits of vitamin D. Here are a few quotes found on The Vitamin D Council website concerning the benefits of vitamin D:
It is not always practical to get your vitamin D from sunshine.
A human requires ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure at least twice a week on the face, arms, hands, or back without sunscreen with a greater than 3 UV index for adequate amounts of vitamin D3. We have been told to stay out of the sun or use sunscreen, which effectively blocks vitamin D. During the fall and winter months, we don’t get much, if any, vitamin D from the sun.
It is difficult to get adequate amounts of the nutrient from food. There just aren’t enough foods with vitamin D in them. To get just 400 IU a day (not considered optimal, except to prevent rickets in children) for disease prevention, you would have to drink one quart of cow’s milk or eat 5 ounces of salmon or a 6-ounce can of tuna daily. Milk is fortified with vitamin D by government mandate; it does not contain the vitamin naturally.
Taking vitamin D supplements provides a practical way to ensure that adequate levels of this important protector are always available in your bloodstream to gain the benefits of vitamin D.
“Today most experts believe that we need far more vitamin D than we’re getting,” said Janie McManus, MD, Chairman, Medical Affairs and Health Sciences, Shaklee Corporation, Pleasanton, CA. She points out that the latest studies show that up to 80% of Americans may have insufficient blood levels of the D vitamin.
“It has become clear that we’re not getting enough sun exposure to generate the internal production of vitamin D to reach adequate levels as well as to prevent the many health conditions that are associated with deficiency,” Dr. McManus continued. “As a physician, I tend to agree with the experts, that 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day from food and a vitamin D3 supplement is probably the minimum that you need to maintain healthy blood vitamin D levels.”
“The major source of vitamin D for both children and adults is from sensible sun exposure,” wrote Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, in an article The Vitamin D Epidemic and its Health Consequences published in the November, 2005 issue of The Journal of Nutrition. He recommends, in the absence of sun exposure, 1000IU of a cholecalciferol Vitamin D3 supplement be taken daily for both children and adults.
Most evidence for the benefits of vitamin D supplements come from in vitro, animal, and epidemiological studies of the health conditions listed in this article. While research is ongoing and necessary to pinpoint specific benefits, it appears clear that most Americans should be taking a vitamin D supplement in addition to sun exposure and diet.
For years, medical associations, physicians and pharmacists have suggested that all Americans take multivitamins. If you take a daily multivitamin you probably are not getting 1,000IU of vitamin D, as most of these supplements contain minimal nutrient requirements.
A large body of science recommends that most adults and children need at least 1,000IU per day. People with chronic joint pain, such as osteoarthritis, could benefit from 2,000IU or more per day of cholecalciferol vitamin D3 supplement.
Some supplements use synthetic vitamin D2, but most experts believe a much better form is natural vitamin D3, the compound your skin makes naturally from sun exposure. “As far as vitamin D supplements are concerned,” said the The Vitamin D Council, we believe cholecalciferol [D3] is the preferred oral form of vitamin D.” According to the Council, D3 is more potent and perhaps even safer than the synthetic analog ergocalciferol [D2] in more common use and is 1.7 times more efficient at raising 25(OH)D levels than is D2. “
As you may know from other pages on this website, my husband and I have arthritis. For many years we’ve controlled our pain symptoms with three natural products. We’re no longer on pharmaceutical drugs of any kind.
Recently we’ve become aware of vitamin D benefits. We’ve been educated that most Americans are vitamin D deficient and taking vitamin D supplements may play a considerable treatment role in joint health.
To increase our vitamin D blood levels, we’ve added 2000IU daily by taking a new Vitamin D3 supplement with surprising results of diminished pain and knee stiffness.
Once you and your doctor agree about the benefits of vitamin D and that D3 is preferred, there are two primary questions to consider when deciding upon a vitamin D3 cholecalciferol supplement:
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They have an ironclad, 100% guarantee and are 'beyond organic'.. Bottom line: What does your doctor know about the benefits of vitamin D? What is your doctor's recommendation regarding supplementation of vitamin D. Ask your doctor to find out.
Benefits of Vitamin D Disclaimer: Health statements on the Benefits of Vitamin D page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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