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The Undeniable Benefits of Sufficient Vitamin D Levels

It seems like almost every day there are new studies which come out in support of Vitamin D as absolutely critical for good health.

Type 2 Diabetes

Back in February, 2023, a study was published looking at the relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk for type-2 diabetes in those who are pre-diabetic. In this study they did 3 trials, testing cholecalciferol, 20 000 IU (500 mcg) weekly; cholecalciferol, 4000 IU (100 mcg) daily; or eldecalcitol, 0.75 mcg daily, versus matching placebos.

They found that supplementing with Vitamin D reduced risk for diabetes by 15%, with a 3 year absolute risk reduction of 3.3%. Among participants in the vitamin D group who kept their serum Vitamin D levels above 125 nmol/L (≥50 ng/mL) compared to 50 to 74 nmol/L (20 to 29 ng/mL), Vitamin D reduced risk for diabetes by 76%, with a 3-year absolute risk reduction of 18.1%. 

Vitamin D increased the likelihood of regression to normal glucose regulation by 30%. On top of that, there was no evidence of an increase in adverse events, such as  hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood) , hypercalciuria (excess urinary calcium excretion), or death.

These are stunning results and again show how important it is to have sufficient Vitamin D blood levels. 

All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality

In a study published in October 2022, researchers looked at the association between vitamin D status and risk of all-cause and cause-specific mortality and estimate optimal serum Vitamin D levels.

They had over 365,000 participants in the study who had serum 25(OH)D measurements and no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, or diabetes at baseline (2006-2010). They found that after about 9 years, roughly 10,000 people had died, 18% of those due to CVD and 56% due to cancer.

They found that there was decrease in mortality risk appearing to level off at 60 nmol/L of 25(OH)D for all-cause and CVD deaths and at 45 nmol/L for cancer deaths. Compared to those with low levels, participants with higher concentrations had a 17% lower risk for all-cause mortality, 23% lower risk for CVD mortality, and 11% lower risk for cancer mortality. 

The concluded "Higher 25(OH)D concentrations are nonlinearly associated with lower risk of all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality. The thresholds of 45 to 60 nmol/L might represent an intervention target to reduce the overall risk of premature death, which needs further confirmation in large clinical trials."

What does this mean for my health?

The truth is that Vitamin D is enormously important for our health. We've written about this extensively over the years in the following blog posts

- The most interesting Vitamin D Study of 2020

- Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements - Are they always good for us?

- Magnesium and Vitamin D - Why do they belong together?

If your vitamin D levels are low, it's going to be very difficult to maintain good health, and opens us up to all kinds of disease conditions.

The good news is that it's not difficult to keep our Vitamin D levels up. Here in Canada, it's important that we use the summer months to "stock up" on Vitamin D. Spending time in the sun with uncovered skin (no sunscreen) is incredibly important to our health for numerous reasons, and is the best way to increase our Vitamin D levels.

In addition it's really important (now more than ever) that we shift our diet to consume more foods that are high in Vitamin D. Such as 

Seafood - fatty fish and seafood are among the richest natural sources of vitamin D, with the added benefit of being rich in omega-3 fatty acids. 

Egg yolks -  especially those sourced from free-range, farm-raised chickens. An extremely nutritious, tasty and a great source of vitamin D, among other nutrients.

Mushrooms - a completely plant-based source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms can make their own vitamin D through exposure to UV light. 

Cod Liver Oil - a tablespoon of cod liver oil contains 1360 IU of vitamin D. For those who don’t like the taste, there are flavoured options out there.

Lastly, we can use supplements intelligently to ensure that we're getting enough Vitamin D, along with Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin K2, and Vitamin A to ensure that our body is correctly using Vitamin D to keep us healthy.