more than skeletons in the vitamin d closet...

Roughly 3000 papers were published last year on vitamin D. Even conventional medicine is conceding its potential in many areas of health and disease.

Topics covered at this conference included immune, heart, cognitive, muscle and blood sugar health. High-doses have been shown to improve lung function, and to produce antimicrobial peptides that ward off pathogens. Inflammatory bowel disease and dermatitis are also associated with inadequate vitamin D, as are many other inflammatory conditions.

Around 50% of pregnant women are deficient. Doses of 4000 IU daily during pregnancy and nursing – deemed safe by the Institute of Medicine – helps prevent pre-eclampsia, impaired dentition, gestational diabetes, hypertension, infection, bacterial vaginosis and pre-term birth.

Vitamin D also builds bone / muscle strength to help prevent falls and fractures. Indeed low vitamin D status is linked to reduced mobility, disability and dependency that reduce the quality of life and markedly increase healthcare costs. It is also associated with cognitive decline. The problem is compounded in the elderly due to reduced skin production, reduced dietary intake, intestinal absorption, activation in the kidneys, and calcium absorption from the gut.

Still, there is no consensus as to optimal dosing, condition-specific needs, or danger from sun exposure. Also in question are the needs for different populations, including the elderly, dark-skinned, obese, sun avoiders, vegans, and those on certain drugs. Is there one dose that is best for everyone, or do genetics and disease matter? For example, hip-fracture and institutionalised patients have much lower levels than normal people. Dark-skinned people get much less vitamin D from the sun.

Roughly every 100 IU of vitamin D raises blood levels by about 1ng/ml, so raising levels to 30ng/ml would require nearly 3000 IU daily.

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