More than half of global mortality rates can be accounted for by six diseases:
- Cardiovascular disease
- respiratory infections
- respiratory diseases
What do all six have in common?
They are all vitamin-D sensitive.
And it’s not just those six diseases…
- maternal sepsis
- deaths from falls
…account for an additional 2-3% of global mortality and each of these is also vitamin D sensitive.
William B. Grant, PhD, is the director of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center (gotta love that name). The Center is devoted to research, education and advocacy relating to the prevention of chronic disease through changes in diet and lifestyle. Recently, Dr. Grant undertook a statistical analysis of global mortality rates and their relationship to vitamin D status in six regions in the world. His study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Here’s what he found.
Doubling vitamin D levels from approximately 54 nmol/L to 110 nmol/l would essentially reduce global mortality from vitamin D sensitive diseases by a whopping 20%. Doubling vitamin D levels would result in 7.6% fewer deaths among African females and 17.3% fewer deaths among European females. (Males would enjoy similar reductions, just roughly half a percentage lower on average than females.)
The total increase in life expectancy from doubling vitamin D levels averaged out to two additional years across all six regions studied.
The actual levels we’re discussing matter a lot here; if someone is already at an optimal level of vitamin D, doubling it probably won’t have much effect. But most people are woefully under the optimal levels.
Vitamin D Levels (25-hydroxyvitamin D)
Note: The most common measurement standard for vitamin D in the blood used in the United States is ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter); the other measurement—nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) is often used in Europe.
“Increasing serum 25 (OH) D levels is the most cost-effective way to reduce global mortality rates, as the cost of vitamin D is very low and there are few adverse effects from oral intake…” commented Dr. Grant.
Indeed. Less than optimal levels of vitamin D have been shown to be strongly associated with a host of conditions from an inability to lose weight, to diabetes, to poor physical performance in older adults, to mood disorders, to MS and to cancer.
Vitamin D belongs on the short list of essential supplements that I think would benefit just about anyone. I recommend 2,000 IUs a day (although I take considerably more). The current recommendations (RDAs) for vitamin D are 600 IUs for anyone from 1-70 years of age.
To be blunt, those recommendations are just stupid.
Get your doctor to do a 25(OH) vitamin D test- the only kind that means anything. Supplement till you get your level to at least 50 (some experts like it higher) and then keep it there.
To quote Greg Plotnikoff, MD, Medical Director, Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis:
“Because vitamin D is so cheap and so clearly reduces all-cause mortality, I can say this with great certainty: Vitamin D represents the single most cost-effective medical intervention in the United States.“