Although the benefits of vitamin D are well documented, including it’s ties to healthy bones and muscles (and particularly to a well-functioning, strong heart) there are some Vitamin D deficiencies linked to 5 illnesses specifically.
As you know, sunshine is the primary source of Vitamin D. It literally synthesizes Vitamin D on your skin, providing multiple benefits.
➡ Vitamin D promotes the growth of strong muscles and bones
➡ It lowers blood pressure
➡ It helps soothe pain from fibromyalgia and slows the progression of multiple sclerosis.
But a lack of vitamin D may lead to some serious health issues. Hard to understand when free sunshine is everywhere…
Are you experiencing bone pain, muscle weakness, increased blood pressure or depression?
These are all symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. And, while there’s more to it than that, if you haven’t made some healthier changes in your lifestyle recently, consider discussing your concerns with your primary physician or a Registered Dietician.
5 specific illnesses, in particular, have been linked to not getting enough Vitamin D
A study published in the journal Neurology (analyzing 1,600 people, age 65 or older (without dementia at the start of the study) found that moderate and severe vitamin D deficiency in older adults was associated with a doubled risk for some forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Note: Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for as many as 80% of dementia cases.
Compared with people with normal vitamin D levels:
➡ Those with low levels of vitamin D had a 53% increase in their risk of developing all-cause dementia.
➡ Those who were severely deficient in Vitamin D had a 125% increased risk.
In addition, the study found that:
➡ People who had lower levels of vitamin D were about 70% more likely to develop (specifically) Alzheimer’s disease
➡ Those who were already severely deficient were over 120% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Regardless of the relationship between vitamin D and dementia, however, know that following the tried-and-true health advice, like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and tending to your mental health can help cut your risk of dementia.
A study published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research found a link between low blood levels of vitamin D and aggressive prostate cancer in European-American and African-American men.
➡ Researchers looked at vitamin D levels in 667 men ages 40 to 79 who were having prostate biopsies.
➡ The connection was especially strong in African-American Men.
While no definitive conclusion has been published yet, you may be able to help lower your potential risk by making sure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D.
➡ Prostate cancer is seen mostly in older men, with the average age at diagnosis being about 66, according to the American Cancer Society.
➡ It’s the most common cancer in men and the second most common cause of cancer death in American men (heart disease is #1).
3. Severe Erectile Dysfunction
➡ A small study of 143 subjects published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that men with severe erectile dysfunction (ED/impotence) had significantly lower vitamin D levels than men with mild ED.
➡ This deficiency may contribute to ED by interfering with the arteries’ ability to expand (called endothelial dysfunction) and is a marker of heart disease that has been associated with vitamin D deficiency in several other research projects.
Endothelial cells release substances that control vascular relaxation and contraction as well as enzymes that control blood clotting, immune function, and how well the platelets can adhere.
: 4. Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder that affects about 1.1 percent of American adults.
➡ Symptoms of schizophrenia, which commonly appear between ages 16 and 30, include hallucinations, incoherent speech, withdrawal from others, and trouble focusing or paying attention.
And, people who are deficient in vitamin D may be twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, compared to people with adequate vitamin D levels, as suggested by a review published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Researchers reviewed findings from 19 observational studies that analyzed the relationship between schizophrenia and vitamin D deficiency and observed a link between the two factors.
Considering what we’ve already learned about the role of vitamin D on mental health, the researchers’ findings can’t be ignored.
5. Vitamin D Deficiency and Heart Disease (you knew I’d get around to heart disease eventually…)
Numerous, as in NUMEROUS studies have shown an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and heart disease, along with related complications.
Unfortunately, however, science has yet to clearly show if supplementing a diet with Vitamin D can reduce the risks. But:
➡ The review does mention research that points to vitamin D levels as a potential culprit for health problems related to heart diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes, and stroke.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need, and How Do You Get It?
While some foods — like fortified dairy, egg yolks, beef liver, and fatty fish can help you get vitamin D2, direct sun exposure can help you get your fix of vitamin D3.
➡ Sun exposure can also help your body better absorb calcium — a crucial nutrient for strong bones, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Most people need 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily, according to the NIH, but just a few minutes outdoors in the sunshine with some skin exposed can help you meet some of those needs.
Ask your primary care physician to discuss the newest recommendation on dosages from the NIH.
Precaution: Be sure to wear sunscreen if you spend an extended amount of time outdoors, as excess sun exposure can add to your risk of skin cancer.
➡ If you’re unable to get regular sun exposure because of your geographic location or weather, consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
There are several forms of Vitamin D, such as D2 and D3, each with specific functions. Click the link below for an easy to understand explanation of each.
➡ Learn more here: Differences in Vitamin D2 and D3
You can work with a Registered Dietitian or your primary care doctor for blood tests to find if you are deficient and need a higher or lower dose, as well as which type of vitamin D you’re deficient in.
We are all painfully aware of the chaos that is the current American diet, and the consequences of not getting any physical activity, but you can make a difference in your own life, and that of your loved ones – young or old, by discussing any potential vitamin and/or mineral deficiency which may lead to serious health complications in the future with your physician.