Vitamin D: A Vitamin Superhero

No matter how you slice it, vitamin D carries a heavy load when it comes to nutrient health. Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels in the body just makes sense. Here are several of the many reasons why:

Vitamin D reduces urinary tract symptoms

We now know that vitamin D is a hormone, with cell receptors throughout the body, particularly in the bladder, urethra, prostate, and pelvic-floor muscles. In this review of 23 studies covering 86,332 participants, those who were deficient in vitamin D, in placebo-controlled trials, were two to three times more likely to have lower urinary tract symptoms. In studies that observed populations over time, but did not treat or try to prevent urinary tract symptoms, participants who were low in vitamin D were up to 37 percent more likely to develop symptoms. Non-Asians, females, and those with urinary incontinence were more likely than other groups to develop symptoms when levels of vitamin D were low.

Discussing the findings, doctors said low levels of vitamin D were an important factor in developing urinary tract symptoms, and that vitamin D supplements consistently reduced these symptoms, and suggest doctors test for vitamin D levels when treating this condition.

Reference: Journal of Urology; November, 2020, 101097, 1441

Vitamin D low in sleep apnea

When the upper respiratory tract is partly or fully blocked during sleep, and breathing becomes shallow, excessive carbon dioxide can build up in the bloodstream, altogether a condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Here, doctors reviewed 29 OSA studies, covering 6,717 participants.

Overall, those with moderate to severe OSA had significantly lower vitamin D levels compared to similar, but healthy study participants. OSA was most common in those with obesity—about six in 10 cases—while taking sleep sedatives, alcohol, family history of OSA, sleeping on the back, nasal congestion, and hormone imbalances including hypothyroidism, made up the rest of the cases.

Reference: Respiratory Research; 2020, 10.1186/s12931-020-01554-2

Vitamins D and K increase longevity

Doctors in this long-term trial followed 4,742 adults over an average of 14 years, and found 20 percent began the study with low levels of vitamin D, vitamin K, or both. Those low in vitamin D were 22 percent more likely to have died from any cause compared to those with good levels, and for those low in vitamin K, the chances increased 7 percent.

In a related study covering 601 adults, average age 70, after seven years of follow-up, those who were low in vitamins D and K were more likely to have thickening in the walls of the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle). After 17 years, those low in D and K were 76 percent more likely to have died from any cause compared to those with adequate levels of vitamins D and K.

Vitamins D and K increase longevity Reference: European Journal of Nutrition; 2020, s00394-020-02352-8

(Second vitamin D and K study) Reference No. 3: Journal of Nutrition 2020, Vol. 150, No. 12, 3171–9

Vitamin D for COPD

In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it is difficult to breathe fully, with symptoms at times becoming more acute, called exacerbations, which require medication. In this review of three vitamin D studies, covering 469 men and women, aged 40 to 86, with moderate to very severe COPD, doctors administered a placebo or doses of vitamin D from 36,000 IU to 100,000 IU per month.

The primary purpose of the studies was to measure the rate of COPD exacerbations that required treatment with corticosteroids, antibiotics, or both.

Overall, while there were no changes in those who began the study with vitamin D levels greater than 25 nanomole per liter of blood, or 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood, those who began the study with lower levels of vitamin D and who took vitamin D during the study saw rates of exacerbations requiring medication drop by 45 percent.

Reference: BMJ Journals-Thorax; 2018, 212092, Published Online

Low vitamin D increases back pain in postmenopause

Bone density declines with age, a trend that accelerates after menopause. In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 232 postmenopausal women, average age 65, with low back pain and lumbar spine degenerative disease. The average level of vitamin D was below the optimal range of 20 to 60 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL) or 50 to 150 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L).

Women who were severely deficient in vitamin D, with levels below 8 ng/mL or 20 nmol/L, reported the most back pain, had the greatest degeneration in lumbar discs, and the lowest bone mineral density. As women progressed from normal density to osteopenia and osteoporosis, levels of vitamin D declined.

Reference: Menopause; February, 2020, e97235, Published Online

Vitamin D improves mobility after hip surgery

When older people are deficient in vitamin D, they are less likely to regain the ability to walk independently after hip fracture surgery. This study involved 290 men and women, average age 82, with average body mass index scores of 25, 73 percent of whom had a surgical hip fracture repair.

Compared to those with vitamin D levels below 12 ng/mL or 30 nmol/L, those with higher vitamin D levels had higher rates of walking independently at 30 and 60 days after hip surgery. Those with lower-quality diets had reduced mobility 30 days after hip surgery compared to those with higher quality diets.

Discussing the findings, doctors said vitamin D is a stronger predictor than diet quality in recovering independent mobility after hip surgery.

Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; February, 2020, nqaa029, Published Online

Daily D and Calcium for Bones

This review of 28 studies covering over 120,000 people found those who combined 800 IU of vitamin D per day along with 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day, for approximately six years, were 6 percent less likely to have any bone fracture, and were 16 percent less likely to have a fracture of the hip. Doctors said the benefits depended on consuming D and calcium daily, not intermittently.

Also, each increase in circulating vitamin D levels of 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood reduced chances of any bone fracture by 7 percent, and by 20 percent for hip fracture.

Reference: JAMA Network; 2019, Article No. 2757873, Published Online

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BetsyHealth Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Consult your healthcare provider before trying a supplement, especially if you have a medical condition, including being pregnant or nursing, or take prescription or over-the-counter medications. For example, since vitamin D helps the body hold on to calcium, those with hypercalcemia should consult a healthcare provider before trying any vitamin D supplement as they may be counter-indicated.

Article copyright 2021 by Natural Insights for Well-Being. All rights reserved. Used with permission.