Vit D is the Key

Want to live longer? Want to live without pain?

D might be the key.

from  HSI – Jenny Thompson []

How many e-Alerts will I devote to vitamin D? As many as it takes to fully explore D’s growing list of benefits.

Let’s recap three high points of vitamin D’s e-Alert history.

1) In the e-Alert “Vitamin Daylight” (6/2/08), I told you about a University of Toronto study that showed a clear link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of breast cancer. UT researcher Pamela Goodwin also offered this important insight: “Breast cancer cells have vitamin D receptors, and we can slow down the growth of these cancer cells and take away some of their aggressiveness with vitamin D.”

2) Last year, in the e-Alert “Flying Lessons” (7/24/08), I looked at research that showed how high doses of vitamin D combined with calcium significantly reduced cancer risk in post-menopausal women.

3) And going way back to 2002, the e-Alert “D’s Day” (4/30/02) featured a 10-year study that followed dietary and medical records of more than 10,000 women over the age of 65. Results: Women who took daily vitamin D supplements were significantly less likely to die of heart disease.

Men, if you’re feeling left out of this picture you’ll be glad to know that two new studies didn’t forget about your D needs.

Chronic pain relief

In a June 2008 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, Austrian researchers checked vitamin D levels in blood tests from more than 3,200 male and female heart patients whose average age was 62. Blood tests were conducted frequently for more than eight years.

Results confirmed the potential danger of vitamin D deficiency. Subjects with the lowest D levels were significantly more likely to die of any cause over the study period. And even when researchers excluded patients with serious heart risk factors, they found that vitamin D deficient subjects were more likely to die of heart-related complications.

Another D study – published within days of the Austrian research – offers very promising results for anyone who experiences chronic pain.

In the June 2008 issue of Pain Treatment Topics, editor Stewart B. Leavitt, Ph.D., reports on a meta-analysis of more than 20 studies that included patients with osteoarthritis, muscle pain, joint pain, bone pain, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions. Dr. Leavitt reports that most of these patients had insufficient D levels.

Here are three key points Dr. Leavitt uses to summarize his findings:

  • “While further research is needed, current evidence demonstrates that supplemental vitamin D can help to resolve or alleviate chronic pain and fatigue syndromes in many patients who have been unresponsive to other therapies.”
  • “A 2400 IU to 2800 IU per day supplement of vitamin D3 is proposed as being helpful for patients with chronic nonspecific bone and joint pains and related muscle pain or weakness.”
  • “Vitamin D therapy is easy for patients to self-administer, well tolerated, and very economical. Other therapies need not be discontinued during a trial of vitamin D ‘analgesia.'”

I have to hand it to Dr. Leavitt; he certainly qualifies as a maverick. Most researchers conclude their reports by cautiously backing away from any hint of a recommendation to use supplements. Still, you should talk to your doctor or a trusted health care practitioner before adding vitamin D supplements to your daily regimen or significantly increasing your D intake.

As I’ve noted in many e-Alerts, exposure to sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but most of us don’t have access to adequate sunlight all year round. You can find a discussion about other vitamin D sources and dosage recommendations in the e-Alert “Higher and Higher” (1/14/08).

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