It seems that the sky’s the limit when it comes to the toxic effects of BPA and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals. BPA and similar chemicals are known for their deleterious effects on the endocrine system, cardiovascular system, and their ability to cause infertility and more. But recent research has shown that the hazards of BPA and other endocrine disruptors can even cause vitamin D deficiency — which can cause a whole host of other health issues.
Time and time again, big businesses manage to get their toxic chemicals approved by governing officials. And it is only after these toxins have become persistent in our environment, and exposure has become inevitable, that the true, sinister nature of these poisons is revealed.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is an extremely important nutrient that is responsible for many functions in the body. In addition to promoting bone health, vitamin D is highly regarded for its brain and immune system benefits. Consequently, deficiency in this nutrient is quite the concern. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an array of problems, including deficits in brain function and increased mortality risk. Vitamin D deficiency is something you want to avoid, to say the least.
A study by the Endocrine Society has shown that in addition to all the other ill effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like BPA, these toxins can cause vitamin D deficiency, too. Published in 2016, the Society’s examination of over 1300 studies on EDCs also found links to infertility, obesity, diabetes, neurological problems and hormone-related cancers, among other ails.
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Lauren Johns, MPH, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the study’s first author, commented on the research.
“Nearly every person on the planet is exposed to BPA and another class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals called phthalates, so the possibility that these chemicals may even slightly reduce vitamin D levels has widespread implications for public health,” she explained.
“Vitamin D plays a broad role in maintaining bone and muscle health. In addition, low vitamin D levels have been implicated in outcomes of numerous conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer,” Johns added.
Based on the team’s findings, people exposed to large amounts of EDCs are more prone to vitamin D deficiency — with women being more strongly affected than then men.
Professor John D. Meeker, MS, ScD, and senior author of the study, stated that more research is needed to understand how EDCs disrupt vitamin D levels. Meeker posited, “[B]ut it is possible that EDCs alter the active form of vitamin D in the body through some of the same mechanisms that they use to impact similar reproductive and thyroid hormones.” However, this is only a theory so far.
Hidden danger: EDCs are everywhere
As Natural Health 365 reports, EDCs like BPA are everywhere.There are over 85,000 manufactured chemicals on the market today, and many thousands of those are EDCs. BPA can be found in everything from water bottles to dental fillings, and is also used in medical devices, eyeglass lenses, sports equipment and and array of electronics. And that’s just one chemical — there are many other hormone-disrupting chemicals out there.
Phthalates, for example, are used in a litany of products, including personal care products, cosmetics, food packaging and more. Phthalates are also known for their ability to disrupt endocrine function and other adverse effects. Some ways you can reduce exposure to these compounds include choosing products that are BPA- and phthalate-free. Selecting glass, ceramic or other natural materials over plastic when possible is another tip.
A study published in PLOS ONE revealed that more than 90 percent of children with IBS lack vitamin D.
Being deficient in vitamin D likewise increases their risk for decreased bone mass, as having adequate vitamin D levels is important for the growth and development of bones of children.
In the study, the researchers analyzed the medical records of 55 children with IBS and compared their data to 116 healthy controls. The results revealed that one out of every two children with IBS is deficient in vitamin D compared to one out of every four healthy children and adolescents without IBS.
The study further looked into the association between vitamin D status and the presence of anxiety, depression, and migraine headaches that often come with IBS. Patients with IBS and migraine had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to controls, which suggests that supplementing with Vitamin D might improve their headache symptoms.
With these findings, the researchers recommend pediatric IBS patients to monitor their vitamin D status and supplement with vitamin D if they are deficient in the vitamin.
More on vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is one of the building blocks of bone. Vitamin D also plays a role in the nervous, muscle, and immune systems. There are three ways to get vitamin D: through the skin, from food, and from supplements. Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon and tuna, beef liver, raw cheese, mushrooms, and egg yolks. After being exposed to sunlight, the body naturally produces vitamin D. However, too much exposure to the sun can result in skin aging and skin cancer, which is why many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.
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The amount of vitamin D a person needs every day depends on their age. The recommended amounts of vitamin D are the following:
As mentioned earlier, vitamin D is important for bone growth and development. Severe vitamin D deficiency can result in bone density loss, which can contribute to osteoporosis and fractures. Vitamin D deficiency can also result in many other diseases. In children, it can cause rickets, which is a rare condition that causes the bones to become soft and bend. In adults, it can result in osteomalacia, which causes weak bones, bone pain, and muscle weakness.
Read more news stories and studies on the importance of vitamin D by going to VitaminD.news.
For over 15 years, I have been warning people about the dangers of not getting enough vitamin D.
The best way to obtain vitamin D is by exposing your skin to direct sunlight. Of course, receiving vitamin D this way is not always the easiest thing to do, especially in the winter months.
During the winter or when sufficient sunlight is unavailable, you can supplement with vitamin D3.
However, it’s essential to take vitamin D with another nutrient that is often forgotten… vitamin K2.
The two of these nutrients form a powerful synergy that can optimize your health.
My mother needed these nutrients and when I sought to purchase a single supplement that contained both of them in the optimal dose, I was shocked to discover that there was not one on the market.
When I realized that I wouldn’t find a vitamin D & K formula that met my incredibly high standards for quality, safety, and performance, I knew I had to develop this formulation – I was sure there were millions of others that would benefit from it.
Before I go into the details of all the extraordinary benefits of my vitamin D & K supplement, I first want to shed light on how each nutrient positively impacts almost every system and function in your body…
Vitamin D – Essential for Complete Wellness
Although being vitamin D deficient does not have many obvious outward signs, I can just about guarantee that if you are lacking in the nutrient and you increase your levels, you will feel noticeably better.
Why is this? Because vitamin D (specifically the vitamin D3 form) has a far-reaching and significant impact on many different areas throughout your body.
For instance, this vital nutrient supports the following functions:
Cell formation and longevity*
Healthy aging process*
Positive mood and feelings of well-being*
Strong and healthy bones*
Healthy metabolic rate*
Proper digestion and food absorption*
Hair and hair follicles*
And the list goes on and on…
I’m sure you can now see why I believe this vitamin is essential for optimal health, and why you should have optimal levels!
Becoming Vitamin D Deficient… Easier Than You Think
Unfortunately, especially during the winter months, many people do not receive the sufficient amount of sunlight for their bodies to produce optimal levels of vitamin D3.
This is because during the winter in non-tropical or subtropical locations, the sun’s rays have to penetrate extra layers of the atmosphere that essentially filter out most, if not all, of the UVB rays that cause your body to produce vitamin D.
The chart below shows the likelihood that people across the U.S. will obtain enough UVB rays from direct sun exposure throughout the year.
As you can see, in the months of January and February, the sun is simply not close enough across the entire U.S. for vitamin D synthesis to happen and your body to obtain enough vitamin D. Of course, these are only two months out of the entire year, but there are many months where UVB rays will be hard to obtain, and you could become vitamin D deficient.
Note: If you live outside of the U.S., visit this Sun or Moon Altitude Table to determine how far the sun is from your location at any given time.
But winter isn’t the only time of year that people are at risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D… in fact, the risk is high year-round, with research suggesting that up to 85 percent of people may be vitamin D deficient.
Even in summer, many people do not spend nearly enough time outdoors to get the sun exposure they need. A minimum of 10 to 15 minutes of direct sun exposure on sufficient amounts of exposed skin regularly is required for your body to absorb enough UVB rays to produce vitamin D.
If it’s rainy or cloudy, you may miss sun exposure, or you may just get too busy at home or in the office to spend much time outdoors. It is also important to note that jackets, pants, and other articles of clothing block the sun exposure you need, so often getting the necessary sunlight on your bare skin is a major challenge.
What Other Groups Are at Risk for Deficiency?
Along with the fact that most people receive very limited sun exposure all year, there are specific groups of people at risk of vitamin D deficiency for other reasons…
Pregnant women: Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be common among pregnant women, and regaining optimal levels is critical for you and your baby.
The elderly: As you age, your skin loses the ability to generate vitamin D. Plus, the elderly tend to spend more time indoors.
Dark-skinned people: People with dark skin tones have higher melatonin levels, which blocks UVB radiation and limits the body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.
Overweight people: Individuals who are overweight often have considerably higher needs for vitamin D because the nutrient is oil-soluble and hidden in their fat, depriving the body of benefits.
In addition, vitamin D concentrations in nearly all foods will not provide optimum levels of vitamin D in your blood.
There is a false perception that you can get the vitamin D you need from drinking milk, but this isn’t true. Vitamin D is not naturally occurring in milk, but instead is added into it. You have probably seen milk containers that say they are “fortified with vitamin D.”
The problem is that the levels of vitamin D added into the milk are far too low to give you enough of the nutrient. In general, trying to obtain vitamin D from your diet alone will not work.
Take Vitamin D With This Powerhouse Nutrient…
As I touched on earlier, if you take oral vitamin D it is important to also consume vitamin K2. This is because the two vitamins work synergistically. Without vitamin K2, vitamin D cannot function optimally.
Additionally, vitamin K’s benefits are impaired by a lack of vitamin D – so you need both nutrients together.
While much is known about vitamin D, the research on vitamin K is still in its early stages, with much to be discovered.
As more research and studies are done on both vitamin K2 alone and vitamins D and K2 together, I know that even more exciting insight will be revealed. Of what has been discovered so far about vitamin K, your potential benefits from this extraordinary nutrient are pretty much off the chart…
For example, vitamin K:
Supports your healthy heart*
Helps support your vascular (arteries and veins) system*
Helps you maintain strong bones and keep them healthy*
Supports your memory function*
Supports muscle and nerve health*
Plus, vitamin K has no known toxicity. Even though it is a fat-soluble vitamin, there has never been any reported case in the literature of a vitamin K overdose. The difficult part is making sure that you are taking the right form of this essential vitamin. There are three main types of vitamin K: K1, K2, and K3.
You can eliminate vitamin K3 from your list as it is a synthetic variant of the vitamin that I don’t recommend for anyone. In fact, this is the one that you and your family should avoid at all costs.
In contrast, vitamin K1 is the form you will most find in your healthy diet, with many green leafy vegetables containing high amounts of the nutrient, including kale, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach. The problem is that the absorption of vitamin K1 from green leafy vegetables is not very efficient, with researching showing that only a mere 10 to 15 percent gets absorbed.
With that being said, the last type of vitamin K, K2, found in many fermented foods, is the one I recommend. Vitamin K2 has many different varieties including MK-4, MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9. However, the best form is MK-7, which is found in fermented products such as natto, or fermented soybeans or chickpeas, since it is the easiest for your body to absorb.
Unfortunately, many people do not eat or enjoy many fermented foods, which could lead to vitamin K deficiency without a high-quality supplement.
The Amazing Benefits of Fermented Chickpea
When looking for a top-quality vitamin K2 supplement, you will notice many brands don’t use MK-7, and if they do, it comes from fermented soy. While fermented soy is a legitimate source of vitamin K2 from MK-7, the problem is potential allergens, which may cause mild to severe physical symptoms in some people.
To combat soy allergens, I made sure that fermented chickpea was used in my D & K2 formula. Fermented chickpea is also completely bioavailable, stable, and proven to be one of the most beneficial varieties of vitamin K2.
In general, chickpeas are very beneficial and contain many nutrients, including a high amount of folate, manganese, fiber and zinc. But the real magic happens during the fermentation process.
You can ferment chickpeas using a starter culture that contains a type of healthy bacteria called bacillus subtilus. The fermented chickpeas then become natto—as mentioned earlier, the most potent natural source of vitamin K2. In fact, vitamin K2 concentration after the consumption of natto has been shown to be about 10 times higher than that of vitamin K1 after eating spinach.
Other benefits of fermented chickpea (natto) include:
Helps support healthy circulation*
Promotes a healthy cardiovascular system*
Controls proper utilization of calcium*
Promotes healthy bones*
Unfortunately, most people do not eat or enjoy natto due to its slippery texture and strong flavor. That’s why it’s important that it’s included in my Vitamins D & K2 supplement—so you can reap the benefits of natto without the pungent taste, and ensure you are getting enough Vitamin K2.
Vitamins K2 and D3 Working Together for Your Healthy Heart*
As just discussed, MK-7 is the most beneficial form of vitamin K2 which is why I am including MenaQ7® in my D & K2 formula – which is the leading patented, clinically supported vitamin K2 on the market today for helping to:
Support the development of healthy, flexible arteries for cardiovascular health*
Support optimum calcium absorption and utilization*
Promote normal blood clotting*
In fact, in a new “breakthrough” study on the impact of vitamin K2 as MenaQ7®, results showed substantial heart health benefits.* MenaQ7® was studied in a group of healthy women over the course of three years, helping to maintain “vascular elasticity” – keeping blood vessels healthy.*
But both vitamin D and vitamin K together are essential for optimal heart health.*
This is because vitamin D3 is needed for the creation of something called Matrix-Gla Protein (MGP), which plays a large role in preventing calcium from building up in your arterial walls (which signifies poor cardiovascular health).
Whereas MGP is dependent on vitamin D3 to do its job, it also needs vitamin K2 to activate it. When you have sufficient amounts of both of these nutrients, your body can work to maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels.*
In another recent study, one group of participants were given oral administration of both vitamin K2 (MenaQ7®) and vitamin D, while another group was just given vitamin D alone. Over the course of six months, the group with vitamins D and K2 maintained their cardiovascular health.
A growing body of evidence shows that vitamin D plays a crucial role in disease prevention and maintaining optimal health. There are about 30,000 genes in your body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them, as well as vitamin D receptors located throughout your body.
According to one large-scale study, optimal Vitamin D levels can slash your risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent. Keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers.
How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health
Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. Dr. Robert Heaney is the research director of GrassrootsHealth and is part of the design of the D*action Project as well as analysis of the research findings.
GrassrootsHealth shows how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.
In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)
As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you “it’s time for your next test and health survey.”
Postmenopausal women with vitamin D deficiency have greater risk for metabolic syndrome than those with sufficient levels, data from a cross-sectional cohort study suggest. Levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin-D [25(OH)D] below 20 ng/mL were also linked to a greater likelihood of high triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
“These results suggest that the maintenance of adequate serum levels of 25(OH)D in postmenopausal women may reduce the risk of developing [metabolic syndrome], a condition that is known to be related to cardiovascular events and mortality in this group,” write Eneida Boteon Schmitt, MD, from São Paulo State University’s Botucatu Medical School in Brazil, and colleagues.
They note, however, that the observational, cross-sectional design of the study prevents causal inferences and that unmeasured confounders may play a role in the findings. Also, as 90% of the study participants were white, the findings may not be generalizable to other races/ethnicities.
The study, published in the January 2018 issue of Maturitas, included 463 women, 45 to 75 years old, who had not menstruated for at least a year, were not taking vitamin D supplements, and had a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. The researchers measured their total cholesterol, HDL levels, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, triglycerides, glucose, insulin, and 25(OH)D levels.
Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum 25(OH)D levels below 20 ng/mL, whereas levels between 20 and 29 ng/mL were insufficient. Levels of at least 30 ng/mL were considered sufficient. Diagnosis of metabolic syndrome required presence of at least three of five criteria: a waist circumference greater than 88 cm, triglycerides at least 150 mg/dL, HDL levels below 50 mg/dL, blood pressure at least 130/85 mm Hg, and glucose at least 100 mg/dL.
Just under a third (32.0%) of the women had sufficient vitamin D levels, and a similar proportion (32.6%) had insufficient levels. The remaining 35.4% were deficient. Physical activity levels, use of hormone therapy, smoking, and prevalence of diabetes or arterial hypertension were similar among all three groups of women. Age, body mass index, HDL and LDL, glucose, waist circumference, blood pressure, age at menopause, and time since menopause were also comparatively similar among the groups.
More than half (57.8%) of the women without sufficient vitamin D (below 30 ng/mL) had metabolic syndrome compared with 39.8% of women with sufficient vitamin D levels (P = .003).
Vitamin D below 30 ng/mL was associated with higher total cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels. It was also associated with a higher score on the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, in which insulin resistance is defined as a score above 2.7.
After adjustment for age, time since menopause, body mass index, smoking, and physical activity level, women deficient in 25(OH)D had nearly double the odds of metabolic syndrome as those with sufficient levels (odds ratio [OR], 1.90). Women with deficient vitamin D also had 55% greater odds of high triglycerides and 60% greater odds of low HDL. Decreasing concentrations of vitamin D correlated with an increase in the number of metabolic syndrome criteria met.
“There are several possible physiopathological mechanisms that could explain the effect of [vitamin D] on the components of [metabolic syndrome],” the authors write. “The most plausible explanation is that [vitamin D] influences insulin secretion and sensitivity, which play a major role in [metabolic syndrome].”
The researchers also noted shared risk factors among people with diabetes and those with low vitamin D levels, such as older age, being an ethnic/racial minority, having obesity, and being physically inactive.
“Although [vitamin D] deficiency is prevalent…across the adult age range, the reduction in outdoor activities and the possible decrease in the capacity of aged skin to synthesize 25(OH)D may contribute to high prevalence of [vitamin D] deficiency in postmenopausal women,” the authors add.
Although the authors speculate that a causal relationship is plausible between low vitamin D and poorer cholesterol levels, they also point out alternative explanations and note the need for studies to clarify the relationship.
“People engaging in high levels of outdoor physical exercise, which would raise 25(OH)D levels due to greater sun exposure, may be more likely also to have healthy eating habits, which could favorably affect their lipid profile,” they write.
Despite having the highest health care expenditures in the world, U.S. rates of premature births have risen two years in a row, hitting 9.8 percent in 2016 — a 2 percent increase from 2015
Underweight births in the U.S. have also increased since 2014, and increases a child’s risk of infections and brain bleeds during infancy, and chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life
Racial disparities are pronounced. African-Americans have a 13 percent low birth weight rate compared to 8 percent for Asian and Native Americans and 7 percent for Hispanics and Caucasians
Research shows vitamin D optimization could prevent 60 percent of premature births. Among African-Americans, up to 75 percent of all preterm births could be prevented by raising vitamin D levels to 40 ng/mL by the third trimester
The Organic & Natural Health Association will be submitting a health claim petition for vitamin D’s ability to lower premature birth to the FDA
By Dr. Mercola
Despite having the highest health care expenditures in the world, U.S. rates of premature births are on the rise, especially among African-Americans. Preterm birth (which is responsible for 28 percent of newborn deaths during the first month of life) is defined as a baby being born before 37 weeks of gestation,1 and preterm birth rates have risen two years in a row, hitting 9.8 percent in 2016 — a 2 percent increase from the year prior.2
That means nearly 1 in 10 babies is now born prematurely in the U.S. Prevalence of low birth weight is also rising. Any newborn weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces is considered underweight. While the most common reason for low birth weight is premature birth, poor maternal nutrition also plays a role.
African-American Women Are Disproportionately Affected
According to the “2018 County Health Rankings Key Findings Report”3 produced by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, underweight births in the U.S. have increased since 2014, and as noted in Mother Jones,4 “Low birth weight is associated with a range of health problems, from infections and brain bleeds in infancy to a higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life.”
Because of its health implications for both mother and child, birth weight is a good indicator of public health in general. Interestingly, Southeast and Southwest states are disproportionately affected by low birth weight rates. Racial disparities are also pronounced, with African-Americans having a 13 percent low birth weight rate compared to 8 percent for Asian and Native Americans and 7 percent for Hispanics and Caucasians. African-American women are also four times more likely to die during childbirth.
Vitamin D Optimization Can Prevent 60 Percent of Premature Births
Research shows vitamin D optimization could prevent 60 percent of premature births. Among African-American and Hispanic populations, as much as 70 to 75 percent of all preterm births might be prevented. Many other benefits could also be achieved by making vitamin D testing and optimization part of standard prenatal care. For example:
Women with a vitamin D level of above 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) have a 25 percent lower risk of infections, including respiratory and vaginal infections,5 which in turn lowers their risk of pregnancy complications
Comorbidities of pregnancy are 30 percent lower in women who achieve a vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/mL, including diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia — a potentially deadly increase in blood pressure and fluid accompanied by low platelets
A mother’s vitamin D status during pregnancy can have lifelong ramifications for her child. Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy has been linked to higher rates of childhood allergies, asthma,6,7 colds and flu, dental cavities, diabetes, and even strokes and cardiovascular disease later in life8,9
According to Julie A. Willems Van Dijk, a public health scientist at the University of Wisconsin and a lead researcher on the featured report, “the right kind of action” will be necessary to close the racial gap, and this includes not just medical care but also societal issues such as reducing segregation and improving access to healthy food and employment.10 What she failed to mention was vitamin D optimization — one of the least expensive and quickest acting remedial actions available!
Organic Trade Association to Submit Petition for Vitamin D Health Claim
It’s quite remarkable that at a time when there’s so much research data supporting the use of vitamin D to dramatically improve pregnancy outcomes, lower preterm birth rates and improve the long-term health of both mother and child, health authorities still make no mention of it whatsoever.
In an effort to break the silence, the Organic & Natural Health Association, which is committed to “empowering conscious consumer choice,”11 will be submitting a health claim petition for vitamin D to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In a press release, executive director and CEO Karen Howard noted “The petition will assert there is a well-established body of research, including that of GrassrootsHealth and its results12 at the Medical University of South Carolina, documenting vitamin D levels of 40 ng/ml or higher reduces the rate of preterm birth by 60 percent.”
The petition is being prepared for submission during a planned April 12 meeting at Capitol Hill, where the association will be sharing the message with key legislators and staff. The key message is that vitamin D supplementation “directly impacts health outcomes and is changing the standards of care, in this case, for pregnant women and a generation of children.”
40 ng/mL Is the ‘Magic’ Minimum Number for Reducing Preterm Birth Rates
According to findings by Grassrootshealth, there’s a clear and definitive correlation between vitamin D levels and time of gestation — up to 40 ng/mL, where the impact plateaus.13 Overall, evidence shows pregnant women with a vitamin D level between 40 and 60 ng/mL have 46 percent lower preterm birth rate than the general population, while those with a vitamin D level at or above 40 ng/mL by their third trimester have a 59 percent lower risk for premature birth compared to those with levels below 20 ng/mL.14
Among non-Caucasian women (among whom vitamin D deficiency is far more common) the reduction in risk is even more significant. In this group, those who achieved a vitamin D level of 40 ng/mL by their second vitamin D test had a 78 percent lower preterm birth rate — reducing the preterm birth rate from 18 percent to 4 percent! To ignore this astounding improvement in preterm birth rate among African-American would be foolhardy in the extreme.
As noted in a 2015 press release announcing the findings:15“The March of Dimes estimates that the annual cost of preterm births in the United States as $12 billion (for 455,918 children). If approximately 50 percent of preterm births could be prevented in the general population, as this analysis suggests is possible, there could be $6 billion available for other services, and more than 225,000 children and families spared this trauma.”
Researchers Call for Vitamin D Testing as Part of Standard of Prenatal Care
As a result of these findings, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) updated its standard of care for prenatal patients to include vitamin D testing and, if necessary, vitamin D3 supplementation. Pregnant women are typically given 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day to start. Regular testing then helps determine whether this dose is sufficient, or how much more might be needed to reach a serum level of at least 40 ng/mL by the third trimester.
MUSC is clearly a frontrunner in this regard, and it’s a great start, but it’s quite clear vitamin D testing and optimization needs to be expanded across the nation, and there’s absolutely no reason not to. It’s simple, inexpensive and profoundly effective.
To speed up this change, physicians across the U.S. are encouraged to enroll their pregnant patients in the Protect Our Children NOW! project, which seeks to resolve vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women and children, and raise global awareness about the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency.
The project was initiated by Carole Baggerly of GrassrootsHealth16 in 2015, and has a panel of 42 vitamin D researchers that provide scientific advice. If you are 12 to 17 weeks pregnant, at least 18 years of age, and currently reside in the U.S., this fully sponsored study is available at no cost to you. Participation in the program includes:
Free vitamin D blood tests, which you can do from the comfort of your own home
Your and your newborn’s new questionnaire entries
Reporting of results directly to you
Free vitamin D supplements
If you are planning a pregnancy, or are more than 17 weeks pregnant, you can still take control of your and your child’s health by using the D*Action test kit. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to monitor your vitamin D status. Again, the minimum vitamin D level you’re aiming for is 40 ng/mL, while additional research suggests a level between 60 and 80 ng/mL provides the greatest health benefits and widest protection against chronic disease.
Vitamin D Status Is Strongly Correlated With Cancer Risk
For example, mounting evidence suggests that optimizing your vitamin D level may significantly reduce your risk of cancer, including breast cancer. Most recently, a Japanese study17 published in The BMJ concluded higher vitamin D levels do in fact provide cancer protection, as indicated by many other studies. As reported by Technology Networks:18
“As vitamin D concentrations and metabolism can vary by ethnicity, it is important to find out whether similar effects would be seen in non-Caucasian populations. So an international research team, based in Japan, set out to assess whether vitamin D was associated with the risk of total and site specific cancer. They analyzed data from the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study, involving 33,736 male and female participants aged between 40 to 69 years …
After accounting for … seasonal variation, samples were split into four groups, ranging from the lowest to highest levels of vitamin D. Participants were then monitored for an average of 16 years …
After adjusting for several known cancer risk factors … the researchers found that a higher level of vitamin D was associated with a lower (around 20 percent) relative risk of overall cancer in both men and women … [N]one of the cancers examined showed an increased risk associated with higher vitamin D levels.”
As mentioned, the link between vitamin D status and cancer risk has been assessed in many studies, including the following, which found that:
Having a serum vitamin D level of at least 40 ng/mL reduces your risk for cancer by 67 percent, compared to having a level of 20 ng/ml or less.19,20 Most cancers occur in people with a vitamin D blood level between 10 and 40 ng/mL, and the optimal level for cancer protection was identified as being between 40 and 60 ng/mL
Women with vitamin D concentrations of at least 30 ng/mL have a 55 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer than those who had a blood level below 18 ng/mL21
Women with vitamin D levels above 60 ng/mL have an 83 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with levels below 20 ng/mL22
Women over 55 who raised their average serum level to 38 ng/mL lowered their risk of all invasive cancers, including breast cancer, by 77 percent23
Vitamin D also increases your chances of surviving cancer if you do get it,24,25 and this includes melanoma26,27 and breast cancer. In the case of the latter, breast cancer patients with high vitamin D levels are twice as likely to survive than those with low levels.28 Higher vitamin D levels are also associated with a lower risk of severe peripheral neuropathy in cancer patients29
Additional studies can be found on GrassrootHealth’s vitamin D*Action breast cancer page,30 where you can also enroll in the D*Action Breast Cancer Prevention project, which now includes both vitamin D and omega-3 testing. Besides cancer protection, vitamin D sufficiency also lowers your mortality risk from all causes.31,32
It even lowers your risk of Type 2 diabetes by about 60 percent, as evidenced by a GrassrootsHealth analysis.33 Here, those with a median vitamin D level of 41 ng/mL had a diabetes rate of 3.7 per 1,000, compared to a rate of 9.3 per 1,000 among those with a median serum level of 22 ng/mL.
Be Mindful of the Interplay of Vitamins D and K2, Calcium and Magnesium
The best way to optimize your vitamin D level is through sensible sun exposure, but for many, oral supplementation will be necessary to achieve an optimal level, especially if you’re pregnant during the winter. Remember, the only way to accurately assess your need for supplementation is to measure your vitamin D level. It’s a simple, relatively inexpensive blood test. Considering the extreme cost of pregnancy complications and preterm birth, the cost of vitamin D testing and supplementation is negligible.
Just keep in mind that if you take high-dose vitamin D, you may also need to increase your intake of calcium, magnesium and vitamin K2 as well, as these four nutrients work in tandem and rely on sufficient amounts of each to work properly. Importantly, excessive vitamin D in combination with lack of vitamin K2 may cause overabsorption of calcium, which in turn may result in calcium deposits in your heart and kidneys.
Maintaining an appropriate calcium-to-magnesium ratio34 is also important, as magnesium helps keep calcium in your cells so they can function better. A ratio of 1-to-1 appears to be ideal. Magnesium is also required for the activation of vitamin D. Without sufficient magnesium, taking a vitamin D supplement may be ineffective, essentially making it appear you need unnecessarily high amounts. Magnesium and vitamin K2 also complement each other.
Preterm Birth Rate Can Be Significantly and Immediately Slashed
At this point, there’s simply no doubt that maintaining a vitamin D level of 40 to 60 ng/mL during pregnancy is one of the most important strategies you can implement, both for your own health and for the health of your child. The science is done and the results are in. It just needs to be put into practice. I cannot think of any other measure that can reduce pregnancy complications, deaths, and future health problems for less money, and be as safe and risk free.35
If you’re planning a pregnancy or are already pregnant, please, get your vitamin D tested, and if you’re below 40 ng/mL, take a vitamin D3 supplement (and make sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of vitamin K2, magnesium and calcium as well). One in 10 children is born prematurely in the U.S., and there’s simply no reason for this tragedy to continue. This rate can be cut by at least 60 percent simply by making vitamin D optimization a standard part of prenatal care.
Again, if you’re between 12 and 17 weeks pregnant, you can enroll for free in the Protect Our Children NOW! study. If you’re planning a pregnancy, or have passed the 17-week mark, enrolling in the D*Action study is a cost-effective way to get regular testing done. The D*Action study is also open to non-pregnant women, as well as men and children.
Doctors are warning about vitamin D again, and it’s not the “we need more” news you might expect. Instead, they say there’s too much needless testing and too many people taking too many pills for a problem that few people truly have.
The nutrient is crucial for strong bones and may play a role in other health conditions, though that is far less certain. Misunderstandings about the recommended amount of vitamin D have led to misinterpretation of blood tests and to many people thinking they need more than they really do, some experts who helped set the levels wrote last week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
When the data is correctly interpreted, they say, less than 6 percent of Americans ages 1 to 70 are deficient and only 13 percent are in danger of not getting enough.
That’s concerning, “but these levels of deficiency do not constitute a pandemic,” the authors write. Yet people may think there is one.
Blood tests for vitamin D levels — not advised unless a problem like bone loss is suspected — are soaring. Under Medicare, there was an 83-fold increase from 2000 to 2010, to 8.7 million tests last year — at $40 apiece. It’s Medicare’s fifth-most-common test, just behind cholesterol levels.
The use of vitamin D pills has also grown, from 5 percent of Americans in 1999 to 19 percent in 2012.
That may be because of many reports suggesting harm from too little of “the sunshine vitamin,” which our skin makes from sun exposure. It’s tough to get enough in winter or from dietary sources, such as milk and oily fish, although many foods and drinks are fortified with vitamin D, and labels soon will have to carry that information.
Too much vitamin D can lead to high levels of calcium in the blood, which can cause nausea, constipation, kidney stones, an abnormal heart rhythm and other problems.
“We’re not saying that moderate-dose supplements are risky, but more is not necessarily better,” said JoAnn Manson of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She and several other advisers to the Institute of Medicine, which set the RDA, or recommended dietary allowance, for the vitamin, wrote the journal article.
People vary, biologically, in how much of any vitamin they need. The institute’s experts estimated the requirement by comparing various intake and blood levels with measures of bone health. They estimated that, on average, people need about 400 international units of vitamin D per day, and 600 for people older than 70.
To ensure that everyone gets enough, they set the RDA at the high end of the spectrum of the population’s needs — 600 to 800 units, depending on age. So, by definition, nearly everyone’s true requirement is below that.
Many people and their doctors regard the RDA and its corresponding blood levels as a threshold that everyone needs to be above, the authors wrote. As a result, people often are told they are inadequate or deficient in D when, in fact, they’re not.
The bottom line: Get 600 to 800 units a day from food or supplements and skip the blood test unless you have special risk factors, Manson said.
Children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) have low levels of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D), a key component for the development of healthy bones, cardiovascular health, good immune system, and glucose metabolism, say researchers.
“To our knowledge this is the first study that has been adequately powered to examine the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and HbA1c [a measure of diabetes control] in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes,” said lead author Professor Terri H. Lipman from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US.
About 90 percent of the participants had 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels ≤75 nmol/L. Vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D levels ≤50 nmol/L) was observed in 40.6 percent of the participants. Vitamin D insufficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin D levels between 51-75 nmol/L) was observed in 49.2 percent of the participants. [Diabetes Res Clin Pr 2016;115:54–59]
The mean HbA1c was 8.6±1.4 percent and mean 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were found to be 54.6±17.8 nmol/L.
Vitamin D levels were also significantly lower in 13 to 18 year old females, and those receiving treatment with multiple insulin injections.
Lipman and team compared the results of this study to previous national health and nutrition examination surveys (NHANES). While the vitamin D deficiency was higher in the study groupcompared to the 2005-2006 NHANES database, vitamin D insufficiency was comparable to that reported in the 2001-2006 NHANES study for healthy 6 to 11 year old children and the 2005-2006 NHANES results for healthy children and adolescents aged 1 to 18 years.
They also found that the percentage of participants of healthy weight with vitamin D deficiency in their study was twice the number reported in the 2005-2006 NHANES report (44 versus 20.1 percent, respectively). The deficiency was however similar in obese individuals (38.5 vs 36.8 percent, respectively).
Another striking result was the increase in incidence of vitamin D deficiency in Caucasian children compared to the 2005-2006 NHANES survey results (88 vs 58.9 percent), while numbers remained comparable in African American children (97 vs 94 percent).
“These additional findings challenge the common perceptions that only obese, African American children and adolescents have the highest risk of presenting with low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D,” said Lipman. “As this study confirms, there may be an alarmingly high prevalence of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels ≤50 nmol/L in healthy weight, Caucasian children and adolescents with T1DM that should not be dismissed.”
The study participants were 197 children and adolescents aged 7 to 18 years with T1DM for ≥1 year. Those with a history of smoking, HbA1C >12 percent, ketoacidosis, inflammatory disorder, abnormal complete blood count, hepatic or renal dysfunction, cancer, malabsorption, on oral corticosteroid, anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs, metformin, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, and/or aspirin were excluded from the study.
The researchers obtained non-fasting blood samples and used the serum to measure both blood glucose and 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels.
“The findings of this study underline the importance of vitamin D screening in all children and adolescents with T1DM,” said Lipman.
Patients with diabetic retinopathy are more likely to have lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels vs. healthy controls, according to a speaker here.
“Vitamin D may have a role in the pathophysiology of creating diabetic retinopathy,” Anawin Sanguankeo, MD, of the department of medicine at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, said during a media briefing at the AACE Scientific and Clinical Congress. “In the future, there should be studies that assess [whether] giving vitamin D to patients that have diabetes will prevent diabetic retinopathy or slow progression in patients who already have [diabetic retinopathy] compared to patients who do not have optimal vitamin D.”
Vitamin D deficiency, Sanguankeo said, has been associated with several cardiometabolic complications, including insulin secretion, metabolic syndrome and systemic diabetes progression. The role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of diabetic retinopathy in humans remains an area of debate, though studies in rat models suggest an association, he said.
Sanguankeo, Sikarin Upala, MD, also of Bassett Medical Center, and colleagues completed a systematic review and meta-analysis of 11 observational studies conducted through July 2015, assessing the relationship between vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-(OH)D 20 ng/mL or less) and diabetic retinopathy (n = 9,350). Researchers calculated the pooled effect estimate of diabetic retinopathy, comparing patients with optimal vitamin D levels and vitamin D-deficient groups, and calculated the pooled mean difference of 25(OH)D levels between patients with diabetic retinopathy and healthy controls, using a random-effect, Mantel-Haenszel analysis.
Researchers found an association between diabetic retinopathy and vitamin D deficiency (OR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.17-1.37). In patient subgroups, researchers also found that patients with diabetic retinopathy had lower serum 25-(OH)D levels vs. controls, with a mean difference of –2.22 ng/mL; 95% CI, –2.78 to –1.67).
“I think that evidence is strong enough to have future studies in this area,” Sanguankeo said. “Before there is a recommendation for clinicians [ to supplement with vitamin D], there should be evidence stronger than this, in randomized controlled trials or in prospective cohort studies. This is just the beginning of future studies that should be done.”
The sunshine vitamin, vitamin D, helps boost bone and muscle growth, but a lack of it can really hurt your health. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to heart disease, breast, colon and prostate cancer, depression, weight gain and more. Read more to know about the signs of vitamin D deficiency.
1. Muscle and Bone Weakness:
Our body stops building bone mass around age 30, and a lack of vitamin D can speed up or worsen osteoporosis symptoms.
2. Feeling Blue Or Sad:
Depression, mood swings are often linked to a shortage of vitamin D. Vitamin D may work the same brain areas that affect mood.
3. Chronic Gum Disease:
Getting enough vitamin D is important for oral health. Periodontal disease is a chronic gum condition. Bacteria cause the gums to swell and bleed. Some studies indicate a direct role of sunlight in reducing the risk of periodontal disease.
4. High Blood Pressure:
Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Research shows that there is a link between vitamin D and hypertension. People with higher vitamin D levels tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop hypertension.
5. Fatigue and Sleepiness:
Research links a deficiency of vitamin D to chronic fatigue syndrome. Low vitamin D results in fatigue and sleepiness.
6. Mood Swings:
Vitamin D receptors have been found in many parts of the brain. Having low vitamin D levels has been linked to depression.
Researxh shows vitamin D deficiency is associated with both developing obesity and the risk of obesity related complications. Vitamin D supplementation helps weight loss in obese and overweight patients with vitamin D deficiency.
8. Gut Issues:
Vitamin D deficiency can also leave many people with digestive problems.
Research shows that vitamin D deficiency also has a role to play in the development of allergy.