New Studies Show Vitamin D Benefits Crucial To Health From Conception Through Childhood

Two recent studies confirm the importance of vitamin D benefits from conception through birth and childhood.

A new Dutch study indicates that newborns with low levels of vitamin D are six times more likely to develop respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the primary cause of serious lung infections during the first months of life.

The study, conducted by the Netherlands’ Utrecht University Medical Center and reported in the Journal of Pediatrics online, tracked 156 infants from birth through their first year. The researchers analyzed cord blood from the newborns to determine vitamin D levels and monitored the children to determine the incidence of lung and respiratory problems.

The initial results of the cord blood analysis confirmed the prevalence of low vitamin D levels at birth, with 54% of the infants showing deficiency of the vitamin. During the first year of life a total of 12% of the children who had low D vitamin levels developed RSV-related lung infections.

RSV, which causes inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, is the most common cause of bronchitis and pneumonia. It is extremely dangerous for infants and may even be fatal if complications arise. Inflammation is also the cause of hair thinning as men and women grow up; in an article titled “10 Ways to Naturally Thicken Hair” via Humancure, it explains how inflammation affects hair growth in turn from low Vitamin D levels.

Similar high rates of deficiency in newborns has been demonstrated in the US. A 2010 Boston hospital study showed that 58% of infants and 36% of mothers had insufficient levels of D vitamin, with about 38% of infants and 23% of mother testing at severely deficient levels.

Infants born of mothers who took vitamin D supplements during pregnancy were at greatly reduced risk of deficiency, the study said.

D Vitamin Deficiency Associated With Childhood Obesity

The negative implications of vitamin D deficiency don’t stop in infancy. A recent University of Pittsburgh study revealed that children who have the lowest levels of the vitamin are the most likely to be obese.

The study tracked more than 200 white, black, obese and non-obese youngsters between 8 and 18 years of age. A disturbing finding of the research confirmed the widespread prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in young people; most of the children tracked by the study had insufficient levels of the vitamin, the researchers said.

The results showed strong associations between D vitamin deficiency and higher body mass index, higher fat levels, and lower levels of “good” cholesterol. Among those who demonstrated D vitamin deficiency, the white children were found to be more at risk for excess visceral fat while the black children were are great risk of excess subcutaneous fat.

Vitamin D Benefits: How Much Do We Need?

Vitamin D benefits us in a multitude of ways. It can positively affect many conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. Considering it’s notable benefits, many people are becoming more interested than ever in finding ways to get enough of this wonder vitamin. We know we need it, but what are the best sources, and how much should we be getting?

It’s common knowledge that vitamin D benefits are related to sunlight exposure, but can basking in the sun’s rays alone yield outstanding results? Do we need vitamin D from other sources? Doses in commercial supplements vary widely, which can make choosing one a difficult process. Do we need them in the first place, and if we do, in what quantity?

There are many things to consider when determining how much vitamin D benefits us each day. While there’s no magic dose which is right for everyone, there are many ways to tell if we need to be more mindful of our vitamin D intake.

How can we tell if we’re not getting enough vitamin D? Important things to consider include how much time we spend in the sun each day, where we live, our age, and our physical makeup and overall health. Old-fashioned sun exposure works well for many young, generally healthy people; for them, spending even 10 to 30 minutes in the sun can provide optimal vitamin D levels. Even if we’re getting sufficient UVB sun exposure, in our late 30’s we start to lose the ability to activate all the vitamin D our bodies usually need.

When the human body is exposed to the sun’s UVB radiation, a cholesterol derivative in our skin produces vitamin D. The sun’s UVB rays are less able to stimulate our bodies’ natural vitamin D production in northern areas due to the tilt of the earth’s axis. This means that if we’re not living in the right location, even if we’re getting a lot of sun, it still may not be enough. Those in southern climates fare better, with best results obtained near the equator. Those of us inhabiting points north may need to consider a supplement.

Naturally, the amount of vitamin D we need is closely related to our body weight. The more we weigh, the more we need. Even when a heavier person gets a great deal of sun exposure, they are likely still not getting enough to produce all the vitamin D they require.
vitamin D benefits those suffering from chronic illnesses greatly. These conditions can take a toll on the body’s vitamin D reserves. When our bodies are fighting to remain healthy, we often use vitamin D more quickly than we can produce it through sun exposure alone.

Inadequate sun exposure has a negative impact on our vitamin D levels in and of itself, but when combined with other factors, many of us find ourselves seriously deficient in this vital nutrient. The best way to find out if you’re getting enough vitamin D is blood testing. In terms of clinical tests, vitamin D testing is relatively inexpensive. While this is often done at the doctor’s office, online tests and even home testing kits are now in wide use.

60-80 ng/ml is considered an optimal vitamin D blood level, similar to that of a young, healthy person who spends enough time in the sun. Levels this high allow your body to maintain a reserve. It’s a good idea to start taking a vitamin D supplement at least two months before having your levels tested. This way, doses can be adjusted based on the results of your test. Experts recommend beginning a vitamin D supplement regime by taking 1,000 IU per 25 pounds of body weight. For example, a 150 pound person would start by taking an approximate 6,000 IU daily dose. If the results of the test show an insufficient amount of vitamin D, adding more is relatively simple. For most people, each 1,000 IU more vitamin D supplement ingested results in approximately a 10 ng/ml boost in vitamin D blood levels. Remember that this is general information, and to carefully customize your dose it’s necessary to repeat blood testing every few months.

Finding the best kind of vitamin D supplements can help acheive steady results. Oil-based vitamin D yields the most desirable results. Being fat-soluble, vitamin D is best ingested with some form of fat. Oil-based supplements facilitate maximum absorption.

The two most commonly found varieties of vitamin D are Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D2. Vitamin D2 is a synthesized form of the vitamin, manufactured by exposing various plant varieties to ultraviolet radiation. It’s mostly found in pill preparations, and is considered less desirable than Vitamin D3, which the body uses more efficiently. Vitamin D3 can be purchased in commonly available oil-based softgel pills.

New Studies Confirm That High Vitamin D Levels Reduce Risk of Diabetes

New international research confirms that keeping vitamin D levels high may help reduce the odds of developing diabetes, particularly among those who are already at risk.

Diabetes mellitus, a metabolic disorder in which the body produces insufficient insulin to properly process glucose or blood sugar, is among the most widespread conditions in the US.

According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million people in the US have diabetes, and an estimated 79 million people have prediabetes.

As of 2010, an astounding 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older each year.

Vitamin D Deficiency Identified As Important Factor In Diabetes Risk And Management

A growing body of research indicates that one of the most important but often overlooked risk factors for developing the disease is low levels of vitamin D, often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because exposure to sunlight triggers the body to produce its own supply of the vitamin.

It is believed that high levels of vitamin D improve secretion of insulin, which is necessary to allow cells to absorb and use glucose, as well as sensitivity to insulin. Low levels of the vitamin have also been found to increase insulin resistance, even among otherwise healthy individuals.

Two recent research projects confirm that keeping D vitamin levels high reduces risk of diabetes

A 2011 German study, conducted by the German Research Centre for Environmental Health in cooperation with the German Diabetes Center and the University of Ulm, showed that individuals with high blood levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus, while the risk for developing the disease is markedly higher among those with low levels of the vitamin.

According to the authors of the study, the anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin D could be among the most important factors in reducing the risk of diabetes. The researchers noted that more than six million people in Germany have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, adding that it is likely that an equal number of undiagnosed cases also exist.

Vitamin D deficiency is widespread in Germany, the researchers said, attributable in part to the nation’s geograpgical which makes it difficult to get adequate sun during the winter months and in part to modern, indoor-oriented lifestyles. The study authors said that if follow-up research confirms their findings, a targeted improvement in the supply of vitamin D to the general public could reduce the number of people at risk for developing diabetes.

The results of a new US study, conducted by Tufts New England Medical Center, echoed the findings of the German research. The Tufts study, which was recently presented at the American Diabetes Association 71st Scientific Sessions, monitored more than 2,000 patients with prediabetes over a period of three years.

The results showed that the risk for diabetes was lowest among those with the highest vitamin D levels, while risk for the disease was highest among those most deficient in the vitamin.

Low Vitamin D Linked To Child/Adolescent Obesity

Can low levels of vitamin D increase your child’s risk of getting fat, staying fat, and developing diabetes? New studies suggest the answer may be yes.

A recent study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas is the latest of many to show a strong link between vitamin d deficiency and obesity, insulin resistance, and increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes.

The study, which monitored levels of vitamin D, blood sugar, serum insulin, blood pressure, and dietary habits in a group of several hundred obese children, indicated that the children with the lowest levels of the vitamin were the most obese, had the highest levels of insulin resistance, and were therefore at the greatest risk of having prediabetes.

The study also linked poor dietary habits with low d vitamin levels and diabetes risk. Older children and teenagers in the study group had the lowest levels of the vitamin, due at least in part to skipping breakfast and drinking more soda, the researchers said.

These findings echo those of a 2011 Hasbro University study published in the Journal Of Adolescent Health that found most obese adolescents have insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels. That study also found that raising the levels of the vitamin in obese adolescents was challenging; a standard course of supplemental vitamin D brought only about 43 percent of the obese adolescents to sufficiency levels, and even repeated courses of supplemental vitamin D failed to bring a significant percentage of the subjects to sufficiency.

The incidence of childhood obesity has reached what many experts consider epidemic proportions. According to recent estimates, 18% of US children and adolescents are obese, more than tripling the rate of child/adolescent obesity over the past 40 years. And the epidemic of overweight children isn’t limited to the US; 2011 research by the University of Bristol estimated that childhood obesity is also a problem in the UK, affecting one out of five children there.

How great a role does the sunshine vitamin – or the lack thereof – play in childhood obesity? Experts say that while more research is needed to determine whether vitamin d deficiency is a side effect or a causal factor, the dangers of insufficient levels of the vitamin remain critical to overweight children.

Vitamin D deficiency, once associated primarily with the development of the bone-softening disease rickets, has long been linked to a whole host of serious health problems. In addition to bone and skeletal weakness, low levels of the vitamin are strongly associated with cardiovascular disease, asthma, dental problems, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer.

The current recommended daily intake of vitamin D is set at 600 IU for children and adults up to 70 years of age, an amount that some experts question as being too low for the population in general and for overweight people in particular, since obesity is believed to interfere with the body’s utilization of the vitamin.

While exposure to sunlight triggers the body to manufacture the vitamin, limited sun exposure due to climate and lifestyle choices can lead to serious deficiency. Parents are urged to encourage their children to get reasonable sun exposure through outdoor play, and to make sure their children’s diet includes foods that have extra vitamin D added (including fortified milk, cereal, and other dairy products.)

Vitamin D: The Anti-Diabetes Vitamin?

Could vitamin D be the anti-diabetes vitamin, improving insulin resistance and sensitivity? According to a recent university study, it may be true.

If you’re concerned about diabetes, you’re certainly not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 20 million Americans are currently affected by the condition, and more than 40 millions Americans have pre-diabetes, also known as early type 2 diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes involve either or both insufficient insulin production and resistance to the insulin produced; type 1 diabetes is an unpreventable congenital condition, whereas type 2 diabetes is usually developed as the result of a physically inactive lifestyle and/or being overweight. Diabetes causes many physical complications, and can lead to kidney, eye, and nervous system diseases, and is known to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

What gives vitamin D the potential to be the anti-diabetes vitamin? According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, taking vitamin D supplements may help improve improve insulin resistance and sensitivity. The study was conducted by researchers at Auckland, Australia’s Massey University, and found that increasing vitamin D levels in the blood of 42 insulin-resistant women dramatically improved their insulin sensitivity.

The controlled, double-blind study lasted six months, and involved 81 women, ranging in age from 23 – 68. 42 of the women were given 4000 IU of vitamin D daily, while 39 were given a placebo. While the vitamin D supplements didn’t result in increased insulin production, they did have the effect of making the women drastically more sensitive to the insulin they were already producing. The researchers concluded that taking a 4000 IU dose of vitamin D daily over the course of six months can help us use the insulin we produce more effectively, significantly reducing our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

This research seems to indicate vitamin D does, in fact, have serious potential as an anti-diabetes vitamin. However, taking vitamin D is just one piece of the diabetes prevention and control puzzle. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, and living an active lifestyle which includes plenty of exercise are of tantamount importance when it comes to preventing and controlling the disease.

Vitamin D can’t get you off the couch, but research has shown that when you do exercise, it may help your muscles perform better. A study conducted at England’s University of Manchester showed that adolescent girls with sufficient vitamin D levels outperformed those with vitamin D deficiencies on a wide range of tests designed to measure muscle power and force. Their findings suggest that vitamin d may help your muscles function at their best, and good muscle function can make exercise even more beneficial for your body.

If you have or are at risk for developing diabetes, vitamin D may be an important part of the picture on several levels. Discuss vitamin D and any other supplements you’re taking with your doctor, and follow his or her recommendations on controlling or preventing diabetes.

Do Obese People Need More Vitamin D?

Is the currently recommended daily dosage of vitamin D enough for obese people? The jury is still out, but initial studies suggest that the answer may be no.

Long recognized for its role in maintaining strong bones, Vitamin D has also been shown to be crucial to a surprisingly diverse range of health issues, from mood management to cardiovascular health. Decades of studies and clinical trials have shown a strong correlation between deficiency of the sunshine vitamin and risk for allergies, asthma, diabetes and other metabolic problems, neurological disorders including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, migraine, periodontal disease, pregnancy and neo-natal problems, and more.

Questions about vitamin D supplementation levels have been raised by many studies in recent years, and in 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommendation for childhood intake of vitamin D to 400 IU per day, starting in the first few days of life. The IOM’s recommended intake for people over 70 has also been increased to 700 IU per day. However, a growing body of research indicates that high dose vitamin D has been shown to be of significant value to the treatment and management of a wide variety of conditions.

One of the newest areas of investigation is the possible association between low blood levels of vitamin D and obesity, particularly in adolescents. While experts caution that additional research is warranted, studies suggest there is indeed a powerful correlation between Vitamin D levels and obesity and that the current Recommended Daily Intake of 600 IU per day may not be enough for the clinically obese.

A retrospective study by Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, RI monitored 68 obese adolescents. Blood screenings revealed that the overwhelming majority of the subjects – 100 percent of the girls and 91 percent of the boys – had either deficient or insufficient blood levels of the vitamin.  Of the 43 the subjects who had a repeat measurement after a course of supplemental vitamin D (using the RDI of 600 International Units per day), only 28 percent showed normalization of serum vitamin D. The subjects whose serum levels of the vitamin did not normalize after the first course of treatment also failed to normalize after multiple courses of treatment.

The authors of the study said the subjects’ failure to normalize serum levels of the vitamin after repeated courses of supplementation is likely attributable to the fact that vitamin D may be sequestered in body fat, preventing it from being utilized inthe blood. The researchers questioned whether a significantly higher intake of the vitamin may be required as part of treatment of obese adolescents.

A 2011 University of Missouri study indicated that a daily dose of 4,000 IU of vitamin D, the maximum intake level set by the Institute of Medicine, is both safe and effective at improving vitamin D status in obese adolescents. The researchers noted that obese adolescents utilize vitamin D only about half as efficiently as lean adolescents, requiring about twice as much of the vitamin to achieve the same increase in serum levels.