If you have low levels of vitamin D for a long period of time, there can be serious consequences. These help show why the nutrient is so important. In the second of this series on vitamin-D deficiency, see what this valuable nutrient helps prevent.
Heart disease: Blood pressure lowers when vitamin D levels are raised. One study used ultraviolet B radiation for three months (three times a week) to increase D levels by 180% and normalize blood pressure. Elsewhere, older adults with vitamin-D deficiency reduced their blood pressure levels nearly 10% when they took 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D and 1,200 milligrams (mg) calcium. Finally, a deficiency is linked to heart failure.
Muscle problems: A deficiency is linked to muscle weakness, pain in the extremities, and falls. Low back pain is common and can be fixed with vitamin D supplements. Plus, this year a study showed that 800 IU a day led to a 72% reduction in falls in nursing home residents.
Diabetes: A deficiency can trigger insulin resistance, which paves the way for diabetes. Taking 800 IU a day plus 1,200 mg of calcium can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 33%.
Arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS): Women who took a supplement with 400 IU of vitamin D reduced their risk of MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis by 40% in three different studies.
Cancer: It’s well-proven that people who live in northern parts of the world are at a raised risk for these cancers: colon, pancreatic, breast, ovarian, prostate, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and others. For them, cancer is also more likely to be fatal. People in these regions don’t get as much sunlight as others. So combine that with the fact that low levels of vitamin D (which we get from the sun) cause a 30% to 50% increased risk for cancers of the breast, prostate and colon. In study after study, taking high-dose vitamin D lowers the risk of these tumors considerably. It’s vitamin D’s cancer protection that is hoisting the nutrient into the spotlight these days.
Asthma: Those northern folks are also prone to develop asthma. In a Massachusetts study, researchers found that mothers who had higher vitamin-D levels during pregnancy lowered the risk of their children getting asthma.
Preeclampsia: This is the sudden spike in blood pressure and protein loss in urine in pregnant women. A recent study showed that maternal vitamin-D deficiency could be an independent risk factor for this condition and suggested that vitamin D supplements might prevent this complication.