On July 29, 2010, the British Medical Journal published a flawed study of the usage of calcium supplements and associated risk of heart attack. The study misleadingly concluded that use of calcium supplements increases the risk of heart attacks by 27% and has no significant effect on overall mortality. The authors advise that the use of calcium supplements in treating or preventing osteoporosis should be reconsidered. Some in the media are broadcasting this study as a reason to stop using calcium supplements.
Please don’t stop your calcium supplements before reading more about the serious flaws in this study!
A major problem with this study is that it excluded people taking vitamin D, magnesium, and other common ingredients in bone protection products. As a result, the study participants generally had low levels of nutrients that are associated with lower risk of diseases such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease and are directly tied how calcium is used in the body. These nutrients all work together to keep calcium in the bones where it belongs, rather than building up calcium deposits in the vascular system and heart that can contribute to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
Low vitamin D levels have long been tied to malnourishment and resultant health problems such as rickets that involve weak bones. But what is surprising to many is that recent research on vitamin D has found that most people are deficient in vitamin D. In particular, those with dark skin such as African-Americans are at particularly high risk for low levels of vitamin D and a wide range of common health problems including obesity, diabetes, asthma, autism, and depression that research is showing are likely related to insufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic Tied to Obesity and Diabetes Epidemics
The mainstream media has been reporting lately on Michella Obama’s efforts to improve nutrition for kids. She is focusing on reducing calorie-laden foods such as soft-drinks and fast-food, increasing the consumption of healthier foods such as vegetables, and getting kids to trade in some of their sedentary activities such as watching TV for exercise. Yet she and her associates appear to be paying little attention to the widespread vitamin D deficiency epidemic that is increasingly being tied to the epidemics of obesity and diabetes.
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Winter is the time of year with shorter days, lower intensity sunlight, and colder weather leading to most people making less vitamin D in their skin due to less sun exposure. The result is that vitamin D levels decline markedly during the winter in people not taking vitamin D supplements. Scientists believe that this accounts in large part for why winter is also the time of year with higher rates of colds and flus. We’ve discussed this further in our article H1N1 / Swine Flu Risk Increased by Low Vitamin D.
Here’s a promotional code for 10% off orders at Swanson Health Products. Enter INTB028 as a promotional code via the link in the upper right of their web page to get 10% off your order. I tried it successfully on December 7, 2009.
They are giving away free cookbooks with orders over $65.
They also have a buy one get one free sale on more than one hundred products. Some of the particularly interesting products in this sale include:
Are you one of the majority of Americans who are overweight or obese? It might interest you to know that the growing mountain of vitamin D research showing that your health will suffer if you don’t get enough vitamin D now includes research that ties increased vitamin D blood serum levels to improved success at weight loss during diets.
This data is from a small study of 38 obese individuals undergoing an 11 week long weight loss program. Obviously replication in larger groups and in other studies would help firm up the conclusions. However, intriguingly the amount of weight lost during the 11 week diet was predictable based upon vitamin D blood serum levels in a very consistent fashion.
The researchers believe there is a predictable pattern here despite the small study size. For each 1 ng/mL higher vitamin D in blood serum, the dieter lost about half a pound more weight. Further, the higher vitamin D levels correlated with more abdominal weight loss. Researchers suspect that vitamin D may help the body metabolize fat more effectively. While more studies are needed to fully understand the exact mechanism of the increase fat loss induced by higher vitamin D levels, it’s not premature to be advising that people need to be increasing and/or monitoring their vitamin D intake more carefully to improve their health.
Given the widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, few side effects from vitamin D supplements, and the low cost of those supplements, anybody intent on losing weight and body fat should be sure to bump up their vitamin D intake to attain optimal vitamin D levels. If you’re willing to spend money on diet books, Weight Watchers classes, low-calorie meals, etc. then you shouldn’t hesitate at the small annual cost (well less than $100 for most adults) of vitamin D supplementation and periodic vitamin D blood tests to verify you are getting optimal nutrition.
If you’re taking advantage of the buy 1 get 2 free sale at Puritan’s Pride and buying $25 or more of products, enter the coupon code 200903 during your checkout to get another $5. That’s enough to cover the standard $4.95 shipping amount with a nickel to spare. The coupon code is claimed to last until September 30, 2009, but the buy 1 get 2 free sales is over September 19, 2009.
Puritan’s Pride carries a huge variety of dietary supplements, vitamins, amino acids, skin care formulas, and other products for your well-being. Some of our favorite Puritan’s Pride products useful to a lot of people are their Vitamin D3 5000 IU softgels and 5-HTP 100mg mood and sleep aid capsules.
Researchers recently reviewed medical data collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2004 for 6000 children and young adults ages 1 to 21. Low levels of vitamin D were found in about 70% of children. Vitamin D deficiency, typical of very low levels that cause rickets and severe bone degeneration and weakness problems were found it about 9% of children. Insufficient levels of vitamin D were found in another 61%. These levels are associated with a wide variety of health problems including type 1 and 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, autism, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, cancer and many other health problems.
As we’ve previously explained, research in recent years is showing that vitamin D deficiency appears to be a widespread health problem affecting much or most of the population of nations such as the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. It’s likely a global phenomenon, ironically affecting developed nations more severely as their residents spend far less time outside in the sun and tend to use sunscreens to prevent skin cancer.
The vitamin D deficiency crisis may be causing elevated rates of depression, autism, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a variety of other chronic health problems in developed nations. Vitamin D3 supplements are now recommended for most people as few get enough vitamin D from diet and sun exposure. Suggestions that adults be taking 2000 IU to 5000 IU per day are now commonplace. Recent recommendations are running up to 10,000 IU per day as a daily adult upper intake limit in some studies. Recommended intake for children is increasing, also, but depends upon the age and size of the child. With vitamin D3 recommended doses growing for both adults and children, it is good to see improved vitamin D3 products such as softgels, gummy vitamins, and liquid vitamin drinks for conveniently getting necessary vitamin D at costs as low as a penny or two per day.
With the increasing worldwide news coverage of widespread vitamin D deficiency and the high rates of associated diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and autism, you may wonder just how much vitamin D is too much? Many doctors are clueless about vitamin D toxicity and believe that 2000 IU per day of vitamin D3 on a daily basis could be deadly, and 100,000 IU in one dose would surely kill you. Surprising to some, these common beliefs of doctors are grossly mistaken. New research argues for 10,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 on a daily basis for long periods being the upper recommended limit for adult dietary intake and that single doses of 100,000 IU are helpful for rapidly building up levels of vitamin D in the body.