Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sunlight Can Cut Your Risk of Death in Half

From USA Today comes yet another article about the importance of Vitamin D.

New research linking low vitamin D levels with deaths from heart disease and other causes bolsters mounting evidence about the "sunshine" vitamin's role in good health.

Patients with the lowest blood levels of vitamin D were about two times more likely to die from any cause during the next eight years than those with the highest levels, the study found. The link with heart-related deaths was particularly strong in those with low vitamin D levels.

The study led by Austrian researchers involved 3,258 men and women in southwest Germany. Participants were aged 62 on average, most with heart disease, whose vitamin D levels were checked in weekly blood tests. During roughly eight years of follow-up, 737 died, including 463 from heart-related problems.

According to one of the vitamin tests they used, there were 307 deaths in patients with the lowest levels, versus 103 deaths in those with the highest levels. Counting age, physical activity and other factors, the researchers calculated that deaths from all causes were about twice as common in patients in the lowest-level group.

The paper from the Archives of Internal Medicine that is USA Today's source concludes by saying: "Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels are independently associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. A causal relationship has yet to be proved by intervention trials using vitamin D."

What's a girl to do? I've had a chronic vitamin D deficiency for over a year despite high levels of supplementation and a daily dose of sun. I fair skin so I have to be careful of the sun. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.  I suppose I should be thankful that my 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels have risen from well close to 10 to in the 20's, though it's still far from the optimal range of 45-52 ng/ml.  


Deb said...

I'm fascinated. How does one know that one has a vitamin D deficiency? Are there effects of vitamin D deficiency that one notices? Or is it something that one is tested for in normal bloodwork in a physical?

Shez said...

Deb, doctors should test for Vitamin D levels at annual physicals but unfortunately most do not. You should request the 25 hydroxy test and your results shouldat least be in the 40-50 range.

Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to certain types of cancers, depression, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and a host of other things that now escape me.

I've heard docs say that almost everyone who lives north of the Mason Dixie line is probably vitamin D deficient.