October 18, 2012
Medical researchers have been sounding the alarm about the importance of maintaining optimal vitamin D levels from childhood through to the adult years, but millions of aging adults remain grossly deficient in this critical hormone-based nutrient. Vitamin D has demonstrated efficacy in preventing diseases from cancer to cardiovascular disease and dementia. Every cell in the body is now known to have vitamin D receptors where the nutrient provides an essential key to accurate DNA and cellular replication.
A research team from Wake Forest School of Medicine has published the results of an important study on vitamin D and disease risk in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM). The study purports that low levels of vitamin D and high levels of parathyroid hormone are associated with increased mortality in older African American and Caucasian adults. Prior studies on the effects of low vitamin D levels have been conducted on persons of European origin, but this study distinguishes important differences in disease risk between blacks and whites.
Low vitamin D levels are a significant risk factor for disease development and early death
The lead study researcher, Dr. Steven Kritchevsky noted “We observed vitamin D insufficiency (defined as blood levels less than 20 ng/ml), in one third of our study participants. This was associated with nearly a 50 percent increase in the mortality rate in older adults… our findings suggest that low levels of vitamin D may be a substantial public health concern for our nation’s older adults.”It’s important to note that while sun exposure provides a plentiful supply of circulating vitamin D during our younger years, continual warnings to avoid the sun and a natural tendency to produce less of the prohormone from sun exposure as we age, places older adults in a dangerously depleted state.