The Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition, Nutrients and Additives
Last Reviewed 04/10/2014

Is There Such a Thing as Excess Vitamin D?

Recently, I saw a news broadcast that said excess vitamin D can be bad for your heart by causing atrial fibrillation.  They cited research presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association where 132,000 adults in Utah with an average of 52 were followed by 20 months. 

What they didn’t reveal is that those who had an increased risk of atrial fibrillation were a tiny subset of those 132,000, who actually had wildly high vitamin D levels above 100 ng/ml. The optimal blood level is 40-60 ng/ml. So as with any nutrient, overdose levels may have a downside.

But for the vast majority of Americans, the real issue is that we’re vitamin D deficient—not excess vitamin D! The health risks of vitamin D deficiency are far mor prevelant. I’ve seen estimates that as much as half of the world’s population is D deficient. Even in sun-drenched Miami, according to one study, fully one-quarter of the population comes up short for this important nutrient.

The Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency

Just for starters, vitamin D is important for immunity, calcium absorption and utilization, insulin secretion, blood pressure, and heart muscle function and structure. The health risks of a vitamind D deficiency can be serious and doctors now regularly test for deficiency.

Epidemiological studies involving surveys and health databases have repeatedly linked vitamin D deficient blood levels to a higher risk of a number of cardiovascular-related issues, including: arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction, higher blood sugar, more fatal strokes, high blood pressure, and a higher risk of heart failure and heart attacks.

How To Remedy A Vitamin D Deficiency

Keeping these simple tips in mind to help keep you out of the ranks of the D deficient:

  • Take 2,000 IUs of vitamin D per day.

  • Primary food sources of vitamin D are fortified milk and fish liver oil.

  • Get at least 20 minutes per day of mid-day sun.

  • Avoid the use of sunblocks, which hamper the skin’s production of vitamin D while they also contain many suspect and potentially carcinogenic ingredients. If you feel the need to protect your face, just wear a wide-brimmed hat or a special UV sun mask.  

Now it’s your turn: How do you get your vitamin D?

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