Vitamin D Deficiency Doubles Risk of Developing Schizophrenia
A new meta-analysis of observational studies focused on the possible relationship between vitamin D serum levels and the odds of developing schizophrenia has concluded that a “strong association” exists between vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia.
The research was conducted and authored by Doctors Ghazaleh Valipour, Parvane Saneei, and Ahmad Esmaillzadeh of the Food Security Research Center and Department of Community Nutrition, School of Nutrition and Food
Science, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Isfahan, Iran, respectively. The analysis involved a comprehensive review of 19 previous studies involving in excess of 2,800 total participants. The original article outlining the research debuted recently in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The researchers defined schizophrenia as a “group set of neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, confused thinking and disorganized speech”.
Upon careful review of 19 previously conducted studies from around the world, the researchers concluded that individuals who suffer from vitamin D deficiency (vitamin D serum levels deemed lower than is considered healthy by accepted medical science) are more than twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than their vitamin D sufficient (healthy levels of vitamin D serum) counterparts. Specifically, the scientists found that inadequate levels of vitamin D increased the risk of developing schizophrenia by 2.16 times that associated with an individual whose vitamin D levels are within a healthy range.
Of those who had already been diagnosed with the mentally debilitating psychiatric condition, 65% were found to have insufficient levels of vitamin D.
The researchers stopped short of declaring that vitamin D supplementation may help to reduce the risk of developing the condition. Rather, they cautioned that more research would be necessary to observe the effects of supplementation on schizophrenia and its manifestation in previously healthy individuals. They also stopped short of declaring supplementation a means of treating existing schizophrenia, again alluding to the need for further study.
The abstract of the study can be viewed here: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/pdf/10.1210/jc.2014-1887.
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Vitamin D Deficiency: A Reader’s Experience
By: Elena W. (Vitamin D3 Blog Reader)
Editor’s Note: The following story was submitted to the Vitamin D3 Blog as a comment. Due to its length and the dramatic nature of the claims made herein, the editorial decision was made to publish the comment as a standalone post/article. The Vitamin D3 Blog cannot vouch for the accuracy or legitimacy of the claims contained within this reader’s account of her experience with vitamin D deficiency. The following is her story, and does not reflect the views, opinions or beliefs of the Vitamin D3 Blog, its writers or editorial staff.
Liquid Vitamin D3 Supplements, Sunbathing Ended Years of Suffering
I developed severe unbearable pain in the back of my neck in June 2009. It took six months to receive a diagnosis, and after that I had to go through six months of medications that did not work. My condition got progressively worse.
In May of 2010 I underwent fundoplication surgery for Larynpharengeal Reflux. Over the next five months worsened even more.
Even though the PH studies showed the surgery reduced the reflux into the throat from 40 to 0.4. While that was quite an improvement in terms of PH, however my overall condition continued to worsen to the point that I began to lose approximately two pounds each day simply because I couldn’t swallow water.
After being sent to a mental health clinic in the region where I retired, my new doctors assumed my condition was stressed induced, and likely all in my head. It was at that point that I began to take over my own treatment regimen.
I observed major improvement with medical-grade doses of probiotics. However, there was no other improvement to speak of. Still, that result was nonetheless better than what modern medicine was able to achieve.
In April of 2011, still burning severely in my whole throat/neck/head area, I developed two additional health problems: a progressively worsening incontinence and severe shoulder pain, respectively. The shoulder pain was severe and I was unable to even lift my arms.
In Aug 2011 I went to the head regional gastroenterologist to request that I be sent to an outside medical system for a second opinion and that the HMO pay for it. The head GI said three things to me, “We don’t know what you have but it’s not LPR; we are not going to pay for an outside opinion; and you have to learn to live with the pain.”
By now, I didn’t even bother to share with my doctors that I had developed incontinence and severe shoulder pain. I basically knew intuitively that my doctors were incompetent and failed to think outside of the box. All they were able to do was to go through their routine medical periodicals.
Fortunately for me, I never stopped researching my illness, and slowly pieced together that my illnesses was due to weak esophageal muscles. It was sort of like atrophy, because the fundoplication should have significantly helped me and it didn’t. I came home from that August 2011 meeting with the head regional GI doctor and wept. I knew I was doomed to a slow death, and my ability to cope with acid burn on the sensitive throat nerves was reaching a point of causing me to lose my ability to cope with the constant pain. I was sleeping no more than 5 minutes at a time at night, and I paced all day to walk off the nerve/throat pain.
However, my luck was about to change for the better. I had a moment of clarity and sat down at the computer and did a web search for “what strengthens muscles”, and up popped different articles, several of which mentioned Vitamin D3.
I sat up. I saw that athletes use it for muscle strength. When I read that it hit me — I had avoided the sun for 40 years! I was a textbook example of what can happen in cases of severe vitamin D deficiency.
I had mistakenly believed all the articles I had read that the sun was bad for the skin. I immediately sent a email to my primary and without saying why told her I wanted a vitamin D test as well as a B12 test.
I studied the types of vitamin D, and learned that D3 was definitely the best form to take as a supplement. I immediately ordered some 10,000 IU liquid vitamin D3 supplements.
I received my D3 drops three days later and within 24-48 hours the deep pain in my shoulder blades had vanished and the bladder incontinence disappeared. Even the LPR slowly began to lift.
It’s been 2.5 years and I continue to improve with LPR. I now travel during vacation down the latitude of the planet toward the equator for sunshine. I live at the 38th latitude on the planet and have researched that the sun is best at 1 pm (due to daylight savings time) from mid-April to mid-Sept and I get about 10-13 minutes of direct sunshine every day that I can.
My health has improved in ways I can not explain. However, these are very real, albeit somewhat subtle. For example, I’ve had severe weakness of the legs since I was 40 years old. I’m 62 right now and my legs climb stairs with no problem.
I feel so strong now that I finally have energy! I don’t drag through the day, and my sleeping patterns have seen a world of improvement. I used to frequently fall ill with a variety of ailments. Now I rarely get sick. My skin has improved, and in spite of everything mentioned herein, I can’t help but think I’m omitting something.
Vitamin D3 supplements have worked wonders for my health. While I cannot scientifically prove that the D3 is the sole reason for my dramatic improvement in terms of my overall health, I know without one iota of doubt that were it not for the vitamin D, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t even be alive today, much less in the best health I can recall being in for the vast majority of my adult life.
The Vitamin D3 Blog would like to thank Elena for contributing her experience with Vitamin D Deficiency!
Vitamin D3 Supplements May Help Slow ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)
New Orleans, LA
According to one of several studies unveiled at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, mixed in between a pair of studies further confirming how Vitamin D helps delay the process of neurological decline associated with Alzheimer’s Disease was a potentially groundbreaking bit of research, the cognitive treasure of Chafic Karam, a fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Karam and associates authored a study entitled “Can Vitamin D Delay the Progression of ALS?” The study was conducted throughout the 2011 calendar year.
The study involved 37 patients, all of whom suffer from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). All 37 were examined for a nine month period leading up to the point at which the testing of the hypothesis began. Twenty of the ALS patients were administered 2,000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day, while the other 17 were administered no vitamin D.
The patients were reexamined every three months. During the nine months leading up to the administration of what I can only presume were relatively well-made, top-shelf vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplements, both groups showed similar progression in the ALS Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R). However, upon the administration of the vitamin D supplements that began to change.
At the three, six and nine month reexamination intervals, the group being administered the supplements showed slower rate of decline than the test group, which was being given no supplementation.
This suggests a possible relationship between down-the-road ALS treatment regimens and a possible role for vitamin D supplementation therein.
With the seemingly endless list of diseases and conditions which can be prevented or the symptoms of which lessened with regular sun exposure and/or vitamin D supplementation, it wouldn’t come as a major surprise if ALS is just the latest debilitating condition the name of which can be added to the aforementioned list. Or so we hope…
Source: Karam C, Scelsa SN. Can Vitamin D Delay the Progression of ALS? Med Hypothesis. 2011;76(5):643-645
Vitamin D3 Supplements Effective in Treating Psoriasis
It has long been known among medical scientists that topical vitamin D therapy is a very effective treatment option for mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis. A quick search of reference materials and clinical trials reveals studies dating back as far as 1989¹ affirming the causal relationship between the application of topical vitamin D3 and a reduction of symptoms of plaque psoriasis in the patients studied.
A 1991 study² showed “significant improvement” in 68 of 83 patients exhibited of their psoriatic lesions with the topical application of vitamin D3.” 24 of 35 patients treated with oral vitamin D3 showed improvements, according to the same study.
More recently, a 2013 clinical review³ showed a correlation between low levels of serum vitamin D in this patient population associated with increased severity of disease involvement in psoriasis sufferers studied. The abstract of the review went on to say that “a review of the literature on oral vitamin D as a treatment for psoriasis reveals that this treatment is efficacious,” and “oral vitamin D improves psoriatic arthropathy.”
According to one scientific definition, psoriasis is “a common inflammatory and hyperproleferative skin disease characterized by infiltrated plaques of the skin and may involve nails, scalp and intertreginous areas.”
In the editorial opinion of the Vitamin D3 Blog, sufficient evidence exists to justify the use of both topical and oral vitamin D3 supplements for the treatment of mild-to-moderate plaque psoriasis. These are available in multiple forms, but it is the opinion of this blog that with regard to D3 supplements, it is worth spending a couple of extra dollars to ensure top quality as vitamin D is one of the nutrients for which the effectiveness can vary relative to the quality of the manufacturing process and supplement ingredients.
Dosage should be determined by a physician, nurse practitioner or licensed nutritionist or other qualified healthcare or medical professional based upon the individual’s levels relative to his or her needs. Vitamin D tests are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain at most medical labs that service the public. Ask your doctor if unsure of where to obtain a vitamin D test, as many physicians now perform the tests in-office and send the test material to a lab for analysis.
1.) Psoriasis and vitamin D3. A review of our experience. Morimoto S, Yoshikawa K. – Department of Geriatric Medicine, Osaka University Medical School, Japan.
2.) Vitamin D therapy in psoriasis. | Araugo OE, Flowers FP, Brown K. | Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, Gainesville.
3.) Oral vitamin D, still a viable treatment option for psoriasis. | Kamangar F, Koo J, Heller M, Lee E, Bhutani T. | Department of Dermatology, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, San Francisco.
Vitamin D3 Community Debuts at WebMD Exchange
An all-new user-powered group focusing entirely on vitamin D3 has formed at the little-known WebMD Community Exchange, which is driven entirely by users who must sign up to participate voluntarily.
While each community has its own set of rules (users create the communities, and whoever creates a given community gets to set the rules), the vitamin D3 community is loosely governed, with just about everything deemed acceptable so long as it stays on the topic after which the community was named.
While participation to-date has been less-than-ideal, the Vitamin D3 Blog is hoping that with the publishing of this post, that will change. Readers of this blog can feel free to start discussions, ask questions, offer tips and resources or merely participate in ongoing conversations, sharing their own experiences when appropriate.
Each member gets to create his or her own profile, adding as much or as little personal information as desired. Photos may be added both to profile pages as well as to each of the numerous different types of posts which can be created within the community.
The Vitamin D3 Blog strongly encourages its readers and in particular its commentators to ask some of the questions frequently asked in the comments section here (but not answered nor published for liability reasons) at the WebMD Exchange Vitamin D3 Community instead. Our writers and editors will be present, and perhaps someone else in-the-know will be more inclined to answer questions pertaining to a specific individual’s health relative to vitamin D intake than will the writers and editors of the Vitamin D3 Blog.
Effects of Vitamin D3 on Chronic Telogen Effluvium
The following is the story of a Vitamin D3 Blog reader who initially submitted her experience involving vitamin D3 supplements as a remedy for premature hair loss in the form of a comment on an older post about the topic. That said, her story was so well-written and intriguing that the editorial decision was made to publish it as an independent post, complete with a byline containing what information was provided by the author.
The following story was edited only for spelling and punctuation, and the contents of the story itself have not been modified in any way, shape, manner or form.
For the anyone unfamiliar with the condition, Chronic Telogen Effluvium is defined at the National Institute of Health website as follows:
Chronic Telogen Effluvium is not uncommon. It is a form of diffuse hair loss affecting the entire scalp for which no obvious cause can be found. It usually affects women of 30 to 60 years of age who generally have a full head of hair prior to the onset of shedding. The onset is usually abrupt, with or without a recognizable initiating factor. The degree of shedding is usually severe in the early stages and the hair may come out in handfuls.
Note: Photos depict chronic telogen effluvium, however they do not depict the author of the below story involving the condition entailing inexplicable hair loss which the author claims has been corrected via vitamin D3 supplementation.
Chronic Telogen Effluvium
Hi there, I would like to comment in my experience with Vitamin D3. I am currently 25 and since 2008 I have been diagnosed with chronic telogen effluvium.
I have had every blood test under the sun. I have been to an endocrinologist who ruled out any thyroid or hormonal issues. I have been to dermatologists and had scalp biopsies to test for female pattern baldness. All tests came back clear. Hence, the diagnosis of chronic telogen effluvium was made.
I have always taken copies if my blood tests, going back to 2007, and what I noticed surprised me. Each time my vitamin D was tested, it was within the low range. No doctors even mentioned this to me. Had it not been for me reading my blood tests myself I would have had no idea whatsoever that I was vitamin D deficient.
I have tried everything under the sun for this hair loss and no luck, so I decided to give vitamin D3 a go. My dose ranges from 2,000-3,000 IU, and currently is 3,400 IU.
At first I didn’t notice any hair growing back, so I became discouraged and used the vitamin D sporadically. What I can say, without doubt, every single time I discontinued using the vitamin D3, my hair shed would be huge. I can therefore confirm that taking vitamin D3 definitely reduces my hair shedding dramatically. Over the last few years, I have stopped and started vitamin D3 four separate times (would forget to take during holidays or overseas trips). Each time, the hair loss became worse and worse.
So where am I now in 2013? Well, it’s only been 3 months of continued vitamin D3 usage, and I can say that my hair loss has come to a stop. However, it has only been in the last month, that i have noticed that my temples and crown are beginning to grow in! Yay!
Now what have I been doing for the last month? I have been taking a prenatal vitamin containing vitamin D3, as I did read that prenatal vitamins can make your hair grow better. I did this for the hair, but I am also 25 years of age, and would like to prepare my body to have a baby.
It’s only been a month since I began taking the prenatal. It contains 400 IU of vitamin D3 and a whole heap of other things you can look up. I still continue to take vitamin D3 capsules, and twice a week I also use vitamin D liquid in my scalp and leave on over night. I have only been using the topical solution for a week, but I believe it could be helping, and will be sure to report back with further results.
Elle, on behalf of all the writers, editors and readers here at the Vitamin D3 Blog, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to write down your story involving vitamin D3 and hair loss. As Editor-in-Chief, I’ve encountered several personal accounts that I considered turning into posts, but yours is the first that I felt met the editorial standard for which the Vitamin D3 Blog has become known.
Thank you once again, and please check your email. We’ll be sending you some coupons for free vitamin D3 supplements as our way of saying “thank you” for your contribution to our informative website and blog.
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Higher Risk of Lung Cancer, Decreased Pulmonary Function in Smokers
March 17, 2013 – A series of recently released studies involving the respiratory/pulmonary function of people who smoke cigarettes relative to their respective individual levels of vitamin D appears to indicate a direct relationship between vitamin D deficiency and reduced lung function in smokers, to go along with an increased risk of developing lung cancer in those who smoke and are also vitamin D deficient.
In one study of 626 male smokers conducted by researchers at Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston¹ concluded that: “Vitamin D deficiency was associated with lower lung function and more rapid lung function decline” in people who had smoked for at least 20 years.
The conclusion as documented in the study’s Abstract went so far as to say that vitamin D sufficiency (normal and/or healthy levels of vitamin D): “… may have a protective effect against the damaging effects of smoking on lung function”.
In more recent (breaking) news, a different study (Afzal et al²) published March 15 in Clinical Chemistry, the Journal of AACC (American Association for Clinical Chemistry) concluded that decreased levels of vitamin D may predispose smokers to developing tobacco-related cancer. This study involved 10,000 individual smokers from Denmark whom researchers tracked for a whopping 28 years – in some cases all the way through the Danish Cancer Registry. Of the 1,081 who developed some form of tobacco-related cancer, the median vitamin D levels as measured in terms of ng/mL were on average 10% lower than in those who did not develop tobacco-related cancer of any kind.
In an unusual twist, the researchers went on to state what any mentally competent adult could have logically deduced from the data, but which all-too-often is implied but never actually stated in similar such studies – that, in the words of the scientists, “This study illustrates that simple vitamin D blood tests and supplements have the potential to improve smokers’ health.”‘
A 2009 clinical review³ written by Christopher R Gilbert, DO, Seth M Arum, MD, and Cecilia M Smith, DO of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia and University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, determined that the adverse health effects of low vitamin D levels on smokers was in no way limited to an increased risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
The review of relevant data present at that time found that people who smoke and have been diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions: “Chronic lung diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and interstitial pneumonia“ are more likely to also suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
While at the time the researchers hypothesized that it was the respiratory illnesses inducing the low levels of vitamin D, the growing consensus is that in fact the low vitamin D is a precursor to the development and eventual diagnosis of the aforementioned pulmonary (lung) diseases.
“A recent observational study notes a significant association between vitamin D deficiency and decreased pulmonary function tests in a large ambulatory population.”
The review concluded: “From the available evidence, it appears that patients with chronic lung disease are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.”
As scientists from all around the world are establishing links between insufficient levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OHD3) and what at times seems like every disease, health ailment and illness known to human civilization, a more complete picture has begun to form than existed in 2009. The overwhelming number of health maladies scientifically associated with insufficient vitamin D levels strongly suggests that the nutrient plays a vital role in immune function and disease prevention, with an inadequacy of the nutrient rendering one abnormally susceptible to developing any one (or more) of a myriad of diseases and illnesses, the full extent of which is not yet known and likely won’t be for some years to come.
Thus, the Vitamin D3 Blog advises readers to take certain statements from the 2009 review with a grain of salt given the research that has emerged in the years that followed and the collective understanding of the condition embraced by the scientific community in light of the new data. If a causal relationship does in fact exist between vitamin D insufficiency and development of disease (lung disease as it pertains to this article but disease in general in a broader context), it is in all likelihood the low vitamin D levels that serve as the precursor to increased susceptibility of developing a disease or illness, not that the presence of the disease(s) somehow leading to the 25-OHD3 levels dropping in those suffering from said ailments.
In the 2009 review, there was one additional anomaly that appears to be inconsistent with most of the published research on the topic, and that is that supplementation did not help in many cases. Without knowing the specific supplements used, where they were made, by whom, when and how, it would be impossible to know for sure if supplement quality (or more appropriately the lack thereof) was responsible for that reality. However, given the full scale of scientific research on the relationship between vitamin D levels and the risk of developing any one of several dozen illnesses, diseases and other health conditions; it appears likely that either those examples stand alone as exceptions, or there may have potentially been an issue with the bioavailability (ability for the human body to absorb and use) of the supplements used in the study.
The Comparative Guide to Nutrition Supplements IV Edition notes a substantial variance in terms of absorption rates of different brands of supplements, with three or four scoring head-and-shoulders above the other 150 or so supplement brands surveyed. Not every OTC, grocery store or pharmacy brand will be the equivalent of sunlight in a capsule. If one is going to rely on vitamin D supplements alone, that person would be well advised to reference the CGNS IV and decide for themselves which of the brands surveyed to use.
Brands like Douglas Laboratories, Biotech, USANA and Pamela Egan / Egan Wellness Clinic consistently scored significantly above virtually all other products by all other brands of the 100+ surveyed. This is not insignificant and it is not the result of random occurrence. Some supplement makers are better at making supplements than others, and consumers should think long and hard before entrusting their health to a brand whose corporate leadership’s top priority is cost-cutting measures.
The best way to obtain vitamin D is still direct exposure to sunlight. That’s right, sunbathing – positioning oneself in such a way that a maximum amount of sunlight makes extended contact with a maximum amount of skin (permissible by law of course) – is still the best way to obtain Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the vastly superior of the two forms of Vitamin D approved for sale as a dietary supplement in the United States. Just be careful to sunbathe in moderation, being mindful of avoiding sunburn from prolonged exposure, even using sunscreen when necessary and appropriate.
Low Vitamin D, Alzheimer’s Linked in Women
According to a pair of new studies recently published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences¹, vitamin D intake appears to be an extremely important determining factor relative to a woman’s propensity to develop Alzheimer’s Disease with age.
The study, which involved a whopping 6,257 senior women participants, suggested that women with the lowest vitamin D levels are the most likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and/or experience other cognitive decline with age. The findings appear to be consistent with trending data emerging from other unrelated studies showing an increased risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis among women who vitamin D deficient.
The study, which was headed up by Yelena Slinin, MD, MS, at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis, found that women with insufficient levels of vitamin D were noticeably more susceptible to global cognitive impairment and a higher risk of global cognitive decline.
The extent of the women’s cognitive capabilities was drawn from the Mini-Mental State Examination (aka: Trail Making Test Part B). “Low” levels of vitamin D were defined as less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, with “very low levels” defined as less than 10 nanograms per milliliter. Women whose range fell within the former grouping were more likely to experience cognitive decline progressively with age, whereas the latter group experienced cognitive decline “at baseline”.
These studies are not the first of their kind, and reinforce the notion that obtaining adequate levels of vitamin D is critical to long-term cognitive health, as well as short-and-long-term health in a myriad of other ways (see all other postings to this blog for more on that).
It is imperative that men and women alike obtain sufficient vitamin D intake. This can occur in two ways, with no evidence indicating either to be superior to the other. The first is sun exposure: sunlight making contact with bare skin for sustained periods of time. This method necessarily requires wearing minimal (if any) clothing while sunbathing during the months when weather and temperatures permit such activities. The Vitamin D3 Blog recommends to anyone contemplating going without clothing altogether to do so in a private setting where no laws will be broken in the process.
The second method is vitamin D3 supplementation. You might have noticed that for the first time in this article, the numeral “3″ appears following the term “vitamin D”. This is deliberate, and absolutely critical if one chooses to go the route of supplements.
There are two forms of vitamin D currently processed and sold as supplements. One form, vitamin D2, is a synthetic compound typically manufactured from plant-based materials. Vitamin D2 does not absorb nearly as well as does D3, the natural form obtained via sun exposure. D3 is the same compound manufactured within the body as a byproduct of direct exposure to sunlight. This form is far more effective as an oral supplement, and the Vitamin D3 Blog advises anyone relying on supplementation to meet their vitamin D needs do so with vitamin D3 supplements as opposed to those containing D2.
Vitamin D3 supplements generally come in the form of small capsules, which are ingested orally as one would do with most any other vitamin or supplement. However, recent developments have led to a new technological breakthrough within the world of vitamin D supplements. That breakthrough is a very high-quality liquid form that comes in a small bottle with a dropper. Those who use such supplements are advised to follow the instructions of their physician (or go by label instructions). The drops of this liquid vitamin D3 supplement are administered under the tongue (sublingually) according to either the manufacturer’s label instructions or better yet those of the user’s personal physician.
Any of these methods (regular, routine and sustained sunbathing), powder-filled capsules and sublingual liquid D3 supplements are all adequate means of ingesting sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
The Vitamin D3 Blog advises readers to take a simple blood test known as a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. This test measures the levels of the nutrient present in one’s blood serum. The specific dosage recommended for each individual ideally would vary based upon the results of this simple, affordable and potentially life-saving blood test.
A new study appears to show a link between healthy vitamin D intake and healthy testosterone levels, and/or a link between low vitamin D levels and low testosterone. Which is it? More research is needed, say the scientists who conducted the study.
Vitamin D3 and Testosterone
Vitamin D Deficiency has already been shown to lead to an increased propensity for developing dozens of different illnesses, diseases and other conditions. Conversely, healthy levels of vitamin D3 by way of sun exposure or supplementation have been shown to help strengthen the immune system and stave off numerous diseases. Well, there’s more news on the vitamin D front, and this latest news involving the “miracle” sunshine vitamin appears to bode especially well for men – particularly those whose age is at (or in excess of) the age at which testosterone levels typically begin to decline in males.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone, and low levels can result in a decreased sex drive, metabolic slowing and decreased muscle mass, among other things.
The most recent news is that high serum levels of Vitamin D have been clinically shown to boost testosterone levels in men. This according to a new study conducted by Katharina Nimptsch and associates at the Harvard School of Public Health, and which was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology earlier this year.
In their report on the trial, Nimptsch and company suggested that vitamin D may increase the production of testosterone in men, and experimental animal studies and at least one cross-sectional study appear to show a positive link between plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D and testosterone production in men. The scientists determined that once vitamin D levels reached the point of 75 to 85 nmol per liter, the relationship with increased testosterone production appeared to taper off.
A similar association was also observed between levels of serum vitamin D and free testosterone.
At lower levels, the amount of the increase in testosterone production was proportionate to the increase in vitamin D levels, which in the study were ingested in the form of vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D obtained through sun exposure and a process of internal synthesis involving the body’s vitamin D receptors. D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is the most readily absorbed form of vitamin D available as a supplement, and is far more effective than the synthetic vitamin D2, the use of which as a supplement in humans has become controversial in recent years.
The scientists who conducted the trial stopped short of asserting a definitive causality between increased vitamin D3 intake and increased testosterone levels. The report made it a point of clarifying that more research is needed to determine whether the relationship between increased vitamin D intake (or synthesis if obtained from sunlight) results in increased testosterone, or if low testosterone is merely a byproduct of low vitamin D to begin with. While this may appear to be a tomato-tomahto argument for some, the scientists were careful to assert that more research was needed before any sort of causality between vitamin D levels and testosterone levels could be established.
In the scientists’ own words:
“This study supports previously reported positive associations between vitamin D and testosterone although we did not observe parallel seasonal variation patterns. Possible causality and direction of the vitamin D-testosterone association deserve further scientific investigation.”
In any case, testosterone-boosting medications and supplements have become a booming industry over the past couple of years, and it is possible that men across the country and world may be unnecessarily paying excessive prices for doctors’ visits, testosterone-enhancing medicines and high-end supplements which may have adverse side-effects. If all that is needed to achieve healthy testosterone levels is increased sun exposure and/or a high-quality vitamin D3 supplement, then hundreds of thousands if not millions of men could be saving hundreds of dollars while safely and naturally achieving the same ends (increased levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone) without all the risks, negative side-effects and foreign chemicals found in some of these other testosterone boosting medicines and supplements.
Vitamin D and Low Testosterone
 (http://) onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04332.x/abstract
The most recent health problem to be linked to vitamin D deficiency is the decline and eventual loss of personal mobility in senior citizens and the elderly, this according to a brand-new study published by a team of medical researchers at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center May 29 .
While the study’s conclusion had not previously been established scientifically, it comes as no surprise to those up-to-speed with the seemingly countless scientific breakthroughs involving vitamin D uncovered in the years since Vitamin D expert Pamela Egan first broke the story the blew the lid off the notion that vitamin D2 – the synthetic and for all intents and purposes inferior form of the nutrient which at-the-time was the standard bearer for vitamin D in supplement form – was of meaningful benefit to humans when ingested in supplement form. Vitamin D3 along with calcium and magnesium have been shown to work in synthesis with one another to support bone and joint health, and that a chronic lack of any of the three substances inhibits the synergy the when all three are present in adequate levels leads to stronger bones and joints with a greatly decreased chance of being diagnosed with osteoporosis (when healthy levels are sustained over an extended period of time).
Since both the extent and quality of one’s personal mobility is directly related to the health of the individual’s bones and joints (along with the brain and spinal cord), it stands to reason that a nutritional deficiency which leads to the decline of bone and joint health would consequently adversely affect that person’s capacity to move about on his or her own. This is the reason that this particular development brought little by way of element of surprise when the story debuted in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, with a corresponding news release appearing Tuesday on the website of the medical school and hospital associated with Wake Forest University.
The study involved 2,099 individuals ranging in age from 70-79. All participants were in good health, free of debilitating and life-threatening conditions at the study’s onset and reported no difficulty in walking a quarter-mile, climbing a set of stairs or performing routine, daily activities without the need for various aids to daily living, personal mobility devices or any other home medical equipment products.
The study participants were observed for a total of six years. Their vitamin D levels were tested prior to the study, and the frequency and severity with which the participants experienced decline in personal mobility and/or the onset of disability was monitored along with their vitamin D levels by way of annual checkups and semi-annual phone interviews every year for the duration of the trial.
While not the least bit surprising, the results left little doubt about the detrimental impact of insufficient vitamin D intake on the ability of the elderly to move about safely and effectively.
“We observed about a 30 percent increased risk of mobility limitations for those older adults who had low levels of vitamin D, and almost a two-fold higher risk of mobility disability,” said lead researcher Denise Houston, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition epidemiologist in the Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Houston also cited the relative lack of concrete data regarding the (now confirmed) existence of a possible association between the timing, speed and severity of the virtually inevitable decline in personal mobility common among the elderly. “This is one of the first studies to look at the association of vitamin D and the onset of new mobility limitations or disability in older adults,” added Houston. Given the overwhelming nature of the evidence in conjunction with the well understood cause-and-effect between bone and joint health and vitamin D levels, this will also hopefully be among the last. There are too many health maladies that are not yet understood, and the development of treatments and cures for the many chronic/severe and/or so-far incurable conditions has long been unnecessarily delayed due to a general lack of communication among the world’s scientists, which results in excessive waste of funds earmarked for research due to multiple teams of scientists studying the same exact thing numerous times over a period of a half-decade or longer – with virtually all results being near-identical with the exceptions coming from studies commissioned by interest groups with a financial stake in obtaining the desired outcome of a given clinical trial.
While the study involved individuals, the youngest of whom was 70 years of age at the study’s inception, this website recommends that everyone either make a point of sunbathing regularly (but in moderation in terms of time spent outdoors during peak temperatures), take vitamin D3 supplements regularly at a frequency and dose to be determined by each person’s primary care doctor.
Houston noted that man if not most of the people falling into this age demographic do not spend much time outdoors, hence it is imperative for those who do not get a lot of natural sun exposure to take at least 800 International Units per day (although that amount may be low in some cases where deficiency is moderate-to-severe.
For those unwilling to go through the trouble of making a doctor’s appointment, having the blood drawn and showing up for the follow-up appointment following the physician’s receipt of the blood test results, the Vitamin D3 Blog recommends that these individuals take a lower dose than would someone whose blood tests have confirmed the existence of vitamin D deficiency. A 1,000 IU vitamin D3 supplement is a safe dose, and if taken in no greater a quantity than one per day should not have any adverse effects and is not a large enough dose to lead to toxicity. That said, the writers and Editor-in-Chief of the Vitamin D3 Blog are not physicians, and while we report on the scientific findings uncovered by those who are medical doctors and other qualified scientists, we do not issue medical advice, and no statement issued on behalf of this website by the Vitamin D3 Blog’s writers, staff, editors, contributors constitutes medical advice in any way, shape, manner or form.
Our first suggestion is always to speak with your doctor, have she or he conduct the simple and inexpensive blood test to determine your levels, following the doctor’s recommendation as to whether or not to start a supplement regimen at any time, and following the doctor’s suggestion as to which dose is ideal for each person’s specific dosage requirements.
That said, with so much writing on the wall relating to the relative degree of one’s health – in this case the mobility and personal independence of elderly individuals as it pertains to vitamin D (and D3 in particular — not D2), we do feel confident in issuing what suggestions we do make, in this case that everyone who does not sunbathe in a swimsuit or less several times per week and does not eat mushrooms, eggs and cold-water fish every day take at least some vitamin D3 supplements – even if only a relatively small dose (such as 400-1,000 IU per day). In light of this study, which may or may not be in some way related to the fact that older people spend more time indoors and less time in the sun than their younger counterparts, we believe this to be of an increased level of importance for those over the age of 55. The age of 55 was chosen because beginning supplementation in advance of people reaching their 70′s is almost certain to help prevent the conditions that lead to inhibited and in some cases total loss-of-mobility. 55 also corresponds with the age at which women’s risk of developing osteoporosis begins to increase substantially. Better safe than sorry. And we’ve not even touched upon the topic how this miracle nutrient from the sun helps curtail inflammation.
While Houston didn’t spend much time discussing the relationship between bone and joint health and personal mobility, she did touch upon the role vitamin D3 plays in maintaining healthy muscles. “Higher amounts of vitamin D may be needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other health conditions,” she said.
In addition to daily supplementation with vitamin D3, which comes in a variety of forms ranging from tablets to caplets to gelcaps to geltabs to liquid sublingual drops to gummy bears (which are a bad idea in houses with children), there are a number of other ways seniors can improve safety and mobility both inside the home and out.
Companies such as Egan Medical Equipment, which is the exclusive provider of the top-quality vitamin D3 supplements personally used by this author and all of the Vitamin D3 Blog’s contributors and collaborating medical practitioners, offer an array of products designed to improve both mobility and in-home safety by helping to minimize the opportunity for serious injury. Readers interested in exploring additional methods to make the home a safe environment for the elderly or disabled beyond D3 supplementation are encouraged to explore the website of Egan Medical, as well as look into other options for helping seniors live at home for as long as is humanly possible such as home health care and medical staffing.]
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