Vitamin D

Studies are constantly finding new methods that could potentially predict your future health and identify diseases early. Recently, researchers found that free circulating vitamin D levels within your bloodstream might be a window into your risk of developing certain diseases and health issues that come with aging.

Dr. Leen Antonio of the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium, along with his team of European researchers, recently finalized a study. The studies from the research were presented at the 22nd European Congress of Endocrinology (e-ECE 2020) in September 2020.

7. Importance of Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones. It also helps your body protect itself again diseases and infections. Around the world, vitamin D deficiency remains a major health problem. In fact, as many as one billion people are believed to have low vitamin D levels.

6. Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D Deficiency

Seniors often suffer from vitamin D more frequently than young adults. Clearly, vitamin D does offer some protection against a wide array of health conditions that often occur with aging. Low levels of vitamin D are often linked to the following:

  • Cancer
  • Cognitive decline
  • Osteoporosis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease

5. Types of Vitamin D

Vitamin D Pill

There are several forms of vitamin D within the human body. Your physician will use the complete total of the number of metabolites to check your vitamin D levels. The body converts what is considered a prohormone into a continually active form of vitamin D that the body can use.

Interestingly, 99 percent of metabolites of vitamin D that are found in the blood bind to proteins and only a very minuscule amount becomes active biologically. It appears that the free, active types of vitamin D are what is being used to predict possible current and future health disorders, and not the total levels of vitamin D in the body.

4. Looking at 25-hydroxyvitamin D Levels

Vitamin D Chemical Formula

In the European Male Aging Study, researchers gathered in-depth data from 1,970 men aged 40 to 79 years old between 2003 and 2005. After gathering the free metabolites of vitamin D, they then compared the levels of both free and total vitamin D in the men’s bods to their health status. They also factored in age, lifestyle, and body mass index (BMI).

The findings of the research celery show that free and bound vitamin D metabolites show a far higher risk of death. The free 25-hydroxyvitamin D pointed towards future health problems instead of free 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.

Dr. Antonio states the following, “These data further confirm that vitamin D deficiency is associated with a negative impact on general health and can be predictive of a higher risk of death.”

One stumbling block about the study was it was unable to obtain the cause of death of the participants who ended up dying in some situations. The inability to gain such insight makes it more difficult to determine the underlying mechanism.

Related: Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Many Diseases

3. Predictors of Disease and Mortality

Vitamin D

Dr. Antonia added the following about vitamin D as a predictor of disease and mortality.

“Most studies focus on the association between total 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and age-related disease and mortality. As 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is the active form of vitamin D in our body, it was possible it could have been a stronger predictor for disease and mortality. It has also been debated if the total or free vitamin D levels should be measured.”

In addition, he added, “Our data now suggest that both total and free 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are the better measures of future health risk in men.” Dr. Antonio and her colleagues are currently finalizing the statistical analysis and paper on their work.

2. How Much Vitamin D to Take?

Vitamin D Supplementation

Now that you know the importance of vitamin D, you might want to consider taking a daily supplement to ensure that you are getting enough of the crucial vitamin to stave off disease.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that adults take at least 600 IU, although you can take 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D safely. You can ask your physician to take check your blood levels to determine if your levels are acceptable or not.

1. The Sun and Vitamin D

Vitamin D

As you age, you might not get out in the sunshine as frequently as you did in your youth. However, sunlight remains the best way to ensure that your body is receiving enough vitamin D daily.

Your skin that is exposed to the sun’s rays can make vitamin D. In fact, your body uses cholesterol and sunshine to create vitamin D. When ultraviolet B rays encounter your skin’s cells, they produce energy that synthesizes vitamin D for your body’s use.

Interestingly, studies have shown that your body makes the most vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight at noon each day. Only 30 minutes of exposing your skin to sunlight at noon can make as much as 10,000–20,000 IU of vitamin D.

Related: 8 Side Effects of Too Much Vitamin D
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