According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, vitamin D concentrations of 50 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter) or higher are high enough for overall health. A recent Austrian study showed a clear relationship between low blood vitamin D levels and the risk of early death. This was especially true for people who were younger than 60. Those with levels of 10 nmol/L) or less had almost a three-times higher risk of dying during the study, versus those with adequate levels (50 nmol/L). Middle-aged and younger people with vitamin D levels at or above 90 nmol/L had a lower death risk than those at the 50 mark.
When it came to the cause of death, vitamin D levels were most clearly linked to deaths from diabetes complications. People with low levels (below 50) had a more than fourfold higher risk of dying from diabetes complications, versus those with adequate levels.
Still, experts say that the results do not prove that low vitamin D levels for sure cut people’s lives short. We do know that if you have an inadequate level of vitamin D, you probably have a high risk factor of thinner, weaker bones. Now it appears that vitamin D does more for us than simply help the body absorb calcium for bone health.
Low levels can contribute to:
- high blood pressure
- certain cancers
- autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Diabetes and Vitamin D
In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that vitamin D supplements did not help prevent type 2 diabetes in people at high risk of the disease. Perhaps this is because supplements later in life might not be enough to prevent a disease. Many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, get their start earlier in life.
There are reasons why vitamin D levels would be particularly linked to diabetes. The vitamin, which acts as a hormone in the body, helps regulate the immune system. And this is relevant to type 1 diabetes, because this is an autoimmune disease.
Vitamin D is also important to the cells that produce the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates blood sugar and this is relevant to type 2 diabetes.
How much Vitamin D
Here’s the dosage that the Endocrine Society recommends:
- adults need 1,500 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day
- children and teenagers need 600 to 1,000 IU per day
The best source for Vitamin D is sunlight. The body naturally synthesizes vitamin D when sunlight hits the skin. You can also get vitamin D from fortified dairy products, juice or cereal.