Vitamin D benefits have recently started to get more attention for their contribution to health and even weight loss.
It is estimated that 100 million Americans have Vitamin D deficiency. Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common nowadays. This is partly due to the hectic indoor lifestyle that most of us live, and partly due to the vilification of sun exposure.
Vitamin D deficiency can apparently actually lead to weight gain, increased risk of cancer (including breast cancer and colon), increased risk of osteoporosis, and a shorter life.
Vitamin D is so important, that with adequate Vitamin D levels you will have a whopping 50% lower probability of getting cancer, and a significantly higher survival rate if you have cancer.
Here is a short video (6 min) by Dr. Oz on Dianne Sawyer’s ABC Good Morning America show, discussing the importance of Vitamin D and Vitamin D benefits. In it Dr. Oz points out that Vitamin D is one of the best ways to protect against high blood pressure, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and a great way to increase your immune system.
Here is a short video (2 min) by Dr. Andrew Weil talking about Vitamin D and its importance to women’s health, particularly if there is a family history of osteoporosis.
Vitamin D Benefits for Weight Loss
Sun bathing without getting burned feels nice, is relaxing, suppresses the appetite and creates Vitamin D that is so important to maintain health.
In a recent study, they discovered that 80% of those seeking weight loss surgery had inadequate Vitamin D levels, and patients with the highest BMI (fat ratio) were the most likely to be Vitamin D deficient. This means that there is some kind of relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and weight gain.
Given that our bodies were constructed to have sun exposure (since the only natural way for us to get Vitamin D is through sun exposure), it is not a surprise that the body reacts negatively (weight gain) when this vital vitamin is missing.
Vitamin D May Reduce Your Risk of Cancer and Increase Your Life Expectancy
The most compelling research that shows that we should certainly worry about having a good Vitamin D level is around cancer risk. Research shows that people with an adequate Vitamin D level reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer by about 50%(!), and significantly increase the cancer survival rate, if they already have cancer.
Here is a short video (2 min) by ABC News that shows that Vitamin D seems not only to help in reducing the risk of breast cancer, but also in curing breast cancer.
According to recent research from the University of California, San Diego Medical School, one of the important Vitamin D benefits is that adequate levels of Vitamin D reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer by about 50%.
Several studies also showed that supplementing with Vitamin D may reduce your likelihood of death over a certain period of time. This is not too much of a surprise given the positive impact Vitamin D has shown to have on preventing/curing a serious disease like cancer.
Vitamin D May Reduce Your Risk of Osteoporosis
For many women, especially those with a family history of osteoporosis, osteoporosis is a concern. In order to maintain bone density and strength, an adequate amount of calcium and Vitamin D is important.
For the longest time, it seemed that calcium was the most important of the 2 ingredients to avoid osteoporosis. However recent research has shown that Vitamin D is actually much more important. This is because provided you eat a balanced diet, you can get enough calcium through your diet. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is not so easy to obtain for most people.
Again, if you recall that our bodies were created with our ancestors in mind, who had a lot of sun exposure and thus Vitamin D, it should be no surprise that there are health consequences to the modern lifestyle with limited sun exposure.
Sources Of Vitamin D And How Much Vitamin D To Take
There are really 3 approaches to get your Vitamin D. Two approaches are to be at the optimal Vitamin D level, and one approach is to ensure a minimum Vitamin D level.
Approach 1 – Get Optimal Vitamin D Level through Sun Bathing
According to Dr. Mercola the safest way to get your Vitamin D is through sunbathing, as long as you make sure that you don’t overdo it. This way there is no way for you to get too much Vitamin D. Try enjoying sunbathing until your skin is minimally pink. The sunbathing time will differ by skin type, time of the year, and the location, so start with a short time frame such as 15 minutes and see how your skin reacts.
Just make sure to put sun block lotion on your face and maybe wear a hat, since the facial skin is typically thin and can easily get cosmetically damaged and wrinkled. Plus this small surface will not add much to the Vitamin D production.
Approach 2 – Get Optimal Vitamin D Level through Supplements
According to the Vitamin D Council, a blood level of 50-80 ng/ml (125-200 nmol/L) is your best bet for optimal health and disease prevention. You will need to take a blood test to determine your current Vitamin D level. This is what makes optimizing the intake of Vitamin D through supplements a little difficult.
You will need to see a doctor, have your blood tested and determine the proper amount of Vitamin D supplements you need to take to be at the optimal Vitamin D level.
Approach 3 – Get the Minimum Vitamin D Level
There is conflicting research and different recommended levels of Vitamin D to take without doing a blood test. In addition, the recommended dosage has changed over time.
Based on recent research, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine Committee identified that 4000 IU/day of vitamin D is a safe dosage for everyday use by adults. This was based on research that showed that adults needed to have Vitamin D levels in the range of 4000 to 8000 IU to reduce cancer risk by 50%, and that 10,000 IU/day was the lower limit of risking taking too much Vitamin D.
Keep in mind that if you are often outside and exposed to sun especially in the summer, you may already be getting some or even enough Vitamin D. On the other hand, especially in winter months, there is higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunshine.
Which Vitamin D Supplements Should You Buy?
The 2 main forms of Vitamin D supplements are:
- Vitamin D3 – Cholecalciferol (recommended), either made from lanolin or fish oil
- Vitamin D2 – Ergocalciferol (not recommended)
If you are looking for Vitamin D supplements, check the list of ingredients, and select the one with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
Studies have shown Vitamin D3 to be more effective. If the ingredient list just says Vitamin D or Vitamin D2, you should skip it. If the ingredient list just says Vitamin D, it most likely is Vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is either made from fish oil or from lanolin. If it is made from fish oil, it is slightly more expensive than Vitamin D3 made from lanolin. According to research, both Vitamin D3s (lanolin & fish oil) are equally effective. It is really a matter of personal preference.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it needs to be taken with fats to be absorbed in your digestive system. So be sure to take your Vitamin D3 with a meal that includes fat, which shouldn’t be difficult since most meals include some amount of fat (oil, butter, meat fat).
Here is a list of 2 different Vitamin D3 supplements, all highly rated by customers:
- NOW Foods Vitamin D-3, 2,000 IU, 120 Softgels. This supplement is made from lanolin.
- Bluebonnet Nutrition – Vitamin D3 1000 IU – 250 Softgels. This supplement is made from fish oil.