If you pay attention to the “official” recommendations for vitamin D intake issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), you might think that you can easily get all the vitamin D you need from moderate sun exposure and fortified milk or other foods. The problem is that the IOM’s Daily Recommended Intake (DRI) for vitamin D is a mere 600 IU per day, despite the fact that many experts now concur that much higher doses of vitamin D — often, upwards of 5,000 IU per day — are needed to ensure optimal health and longevity.
The IOM may mean well, but their logic for setting the DRI for vitamin D was seriously flawed. When they upped their recommendation from a pathetic 400 IU to 600 IU in 2010, they were looking only at research concerning vitamin D’s well-known role in supporting bone health. They ignored the volumes of research that have emerged in recent years showing that vitamin D is critical to overall longevity, cellular health, immune function and optimal cardiovascular health.
I firmly believe that if you live in the northern hemisphere and do not spend the majority of your time outdoors in the sun, you need to be taking a vitamin D3 supplement. In fact, I would say that if you were to only take one supplement, hands down it should be vitamin D.
But you do not want to take just any vitamin D supplement. If you take the wrong type, an insufficient dose or a supplement that is not formulated for maximum bio-availability, you could end up just wasting your money — and missing out on an opportunity to significantly improve your health. But more on that later.
First, let’s explore four reasons why vitamin D is so incredibly important, aside from its role is supporting our bones and skeletal system.
1. Vitamin D can help you live longer.
Simply put, taking vitamin D can help you defy death! Several studies have now alluded to vitamin D’s ability to reduce overall mortality, which simply means that individuals with higher blood levels of vitamin D tend to have a reduced risk of dying from any cause.
One such study evaluated data from 60,000 individuals and found a 29% reduced risk of all-cause mortality for those people with the highest blood levels of vitamin D vs. those with the lowest. Another older study from 2007 also demonstrated that individuals taking even moderate daily doses of vitamin D (400 IU-800 IU) had a 7% reduction in mortality from any cause compared to those not taking supplemental vitamin D.
These results, in my opinion, are staggering when you consider that something so safe and inexpensive can have such a profound effect on human longevity.
Vitamin D has shown impressive results when it comes to influencing cellular health. It plays an important role in promoting normal cellular growth and cellular longevity.
2. Vitamin D boosts immune function.
For many years, it has been speculated that vitamin D plays an important role in immune function. This hypothesis first came to light when researches noted that people living in more Northern latitudes suffered higher rates of certain autoimmune diseases. In 2006, researchers confirmed some of these suspicions when they discovered that people with the highest blood levels of vitamin D were 62% less likely to develop autoimmune problems than those with the lowest levels. Although these types of studies do not directly prove that vitamin D prevents these conditions, the correlations are strong and suggest a strong immune-modulating effect.
Another widespread theory regarding vitamin D and immune function originated from the observation that bacterial and viral infection activity and rates are much higher in winter months. Because blood levels of vitamin D fall significantly in winter months due to less sun exposure and weaker rays from the sun, it seemed logical that these factors might be correlated.
In 2006, a group of scientists researched this theory in more detail and found that the evidence in favor of a seasonal stimulus to increased infections was compelling. The online publication of the Harvard School of Public Health summarized the findings they cited to support their theory.
- Vitamin D levels are lowest in winter months.
- The active form of vitamin D alters the response of several immune cells, including damping certain damaging inflammatory responses and increasing the production of microbe-fighting proteins.
- Children with diagnosed vitamin D deficiency and the resulting condition rickets tend to have compromised immunity, while children who have more sun exposure tend to have stronger immune systems.
- Adults who have low vitamin D levels are more likely to report having had a recent cough or other signs of compromised immunity.
Other investigations into this issue have shown more of the same; higher blood levels of vitamin D support optimal immune health.
3. Vitamin D supports heart health.
Vitamin D levels have been closely correlated to many aspects of cardiovascular health. Its role in the body seems to influence the control of blood pressure and the maintenance of healthy arteries. One very large study followed nearly 50,000 healthy men for 10 years and found that those who were deficient in vitamin D were two times more likely to experience a cardiovascular event vs. men who had adequate levels. Other studies have correlated adequate vitamin D levels to many improved parameters of cardiovascular health.[14-18]
Vitamin D Can Revolutionize Your Health…But It Can’t Do It Alone
No nutrient works alone in our bodies and vitamin D is no exception. Remember that the vitamin D we make from the sun and take in supplement form is a prohormone and needs to be converted by enzymes in the body in order to become a potent steroid hormone with powerful regulating effects on our DNA and genetic expression.
It is also important to understand that ensuring a proper supply of companion nutrients that support vitamin D activity can enhance some of the beneficial roles of vitamin D in the body.
Let’s review some of the key nutrients necessary to ensure you are getting the most from your sun exposure or vitamin D supplement.
- Magnesium: According to some industry experts, magnesium is the most important vitamin D cofactor. This stems mainly from the fact that magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is responsible for over 300 essential metabolic reactions mainly related to its role in enzyme activation. All of the enzymes that metabolize vitamin D from its largely inactive prohormone form to its active steroid hormone form require magnesium as a co-factor.[20,21] Combine that with the fact that magnesium deficiency is thought to be widespread among Americans, and it is easy to see why supplementing with this important mineral is a critical part of ensuring the beneficial action of vitamin D in the body.
- Vitamin K2: If magnesium is the most important vitamin D cofactor, then vitamin K2 is a close runner-up. This important fat-soluble nutrient plays a critical role in regulating the increased blood levels of calcium that result from increased blood levels of vitamin D. When blood calcium levels are increased, it is critical that the body have the right tools to properly deposit that calcium in the correct place. One major growing concern regarding higher levels of calcium intake and absorption is related to increased deposition of calcium, whereas the preferred location of calcium deposition is in the bone matrix. Vitamin K2 activates protective proteins in the arterial wall that prevent calcium deposition and vascular calcification.[23-26] In another amazing stroke of genius by our body, vitamin K2 also activates a protein in our bones that facilitates the deposition of calcium into the bone matrix and has been shown to reduce bone loss and fracture risk.[27-29] As you can see, this fat-soluble nutrient plays a critical role ensuring that calcium is deposited safely into the bones and diverted from causing damage to the arterial wall. Note: Some people on certain blood-thinning medications need to be careful about taking any supplement that contains vitamin K2. If you are taking blood thinning medications consult with your physician before taking any vitamin K supplements.
- Zinc: Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays key roles in many metabolic pathways in the body, mainly related to its ability to catalyze over 100 different metabolic reactions. One of its primary roles with regard to being a vitamin D cofactor is related to its important role in regulating gene expression in our cellular DNA. The active hormonal form of vitamin D also exerts many of its beneficial effects by regulating and influencing gene expression. Zinc has been shown to influence the activity of vitamin D dependent genes in cells.[32,33] In conjunction with vitamin D, zinc also plays an important role in immune health and calcium metabolism.
- Boron: Boron is a trace mineral that supports vitamin D activity by influencing the activity of enzymes that metabolize vitamin D and related minerals including magnesium and calcium.[34-36]
- Antioxidants: Antioxidant compounds such as quercetin, grape seed extract and alpha lipoic acid help to support the profound beneficial effects of vitamin D on the cardiovascular system. They also help to prevent oxidative damage to our DNA and ensure proper functioning of receptor sites on our cell membrane.
My Advice: Take a Vitamin D Supplement Based on Science
Nutritional science has confirmed the critical importance of the vitamin D cofactors I listed above, and I firmly believe that for people to get the most out of their vitamin D supplement, it is crucial that they are also getting ample amounts of these synergistic ingredients.
Even if you are relying on the sun as your primary source of vitamin D, is it important to make sure you have adequate intake of these other nutrients in your diet or from supplements to support vitamin D activity.
In my opinion, Revolution-D™ by Stop Aging Now represents the most scientifically advanced vitamin D supplement on the market today. It combines therapeutic levels of critical nutrient co-factors needed to guarantee maximum benefits from vitamin D supplementation along with a high therapeutic dose of 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – the most effect form – per serving. The D3 form of vitamin D has been shown in research to consistently raise blood levels more effectively and to confer greater health benefits than the D2 form (ergocalciferol). D2 is less expensive than D3, and is what manufacturers looking to cut corners typically use to fortify foods and make supplements. Interestingly, D2 is also what the pharmaceutical companies use to make prescription vitamin D.
For years, I was having patients take multiple products to ensure that adequate co-factors such as magnesium, vitamin K2 and zinc were present in the levels necessary to support vitamin D activity and function. Needless to say, I was thrilled when released Revolution-D and Stop Aging Now became one of the only nutraceutical companies to produce a truly comprehensive vitamin D supplement based on cutting-edge nutritional science.
And don’t just take my word for it. The Vitamin D Council, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to spreading reliable information about vitamin D partnered with Stop Aging Now to allow their many members and followers to access this cutting-edge vitamin D formula.
The quality of all Stop Aging Now products is unmatched, and Revolution-D is no exception. It is produced in the USA in an FDA-inspected facility that exceeds current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). As an industry expert in the field of natural supplements, I find it rare to come across a company that meets such high manufacturing standards, and it gives me great confidence in recommending their products to my patients, family members and friends.
Based on the impressive volumes of research backing its importance on human health, I can honestly say that vitamin D is the single most important vitamin to take as a daily supplement. And in my opinion, Revolution-D offers the most effective scientifically advanced formulation to support optimal vitamin D levels and excellent health.
About the author: Dr. Passero completed four years of post-graduate medical education at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Colorado. Dr. Passero has trained with some of the nation’s leading doctors in the field of natural medicine. In his practice, Dr. Passero focuses on restoring harmony to both the body and mind using advanced protocols that incorporate herbal therapy, homeopathy, vitamin therapy and nutritional programs. Through education and guidance patients are able to unlock the natural healing power contained within each one of us. For more information, visit his website, Green Healing Wellness, or follow him on Facebook.