Latest research on the benefits of vitamin D
Vitamin D helps reduce the risk of hip fractures, enlarged prostate, pneumonia and diabetes and improves strength and vertical jump in dancers*
by Newsletter Editor
Vitamin D reduces chances of hip fracture in adults
This is the largest study of its type for hip fracture and vitamin D. Doctors analyzed vitamin D levels in more than 1,175 men and women who had a hip fracture during an eight-year study period and compared them to vitamin D levels in 1,438 who did not. Doctors considered age, gender, and body mass index scores and found, overall, those with the lowest vitamin D levels were 38 percent more likely to have a hip fracture than those with the highest vitamin D levels. Men seemed to benefit most from good vitamin D levels, while the benefit was smaller for women. As the levels of circulating vitamin D increased, chances of hip fracture declined. Doctors also found that vitamin D appeared to protect against hip fracture when levels were above 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood, or 75 nanomoles per liter.
Reference: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism; 2013 Aug;98(8):3341-50
Calcium with vitamin D reduces hip fractures in post-menopausal women
Doctors had encouraged women with severe menopause symptoms to use hormone therapy, but have since discouraged it due to side effects. This two-part study included 16,089 women already taking hormone therapy, those taking hormone therapy plus calcium and vitamin D or placebo. The doses were 1,000 mg of calcium plus 400 IU of vitamin D per day. After more than seven years of follow up, women on hormone therapy plus calcium and vitamin D had fewer fractures compared to placebo or to women on hormone therapy alone. Doctors said that during an average year, compared to placebo, half as many women would experience a hip fracture when taking hormone therapy with calcium and vitamin D.
Reference: Menopause 2013 Aug 13.[epub ahead of print]
Higher levels of calcium and vitamin D may help reduce BPH (enlarged prostate)
Doctors tested for a link between circulating nutrients and other factors related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as enlarged prostate. BPH is a common age-related condition that can cause urinary tract symptoms such as frequent and difficult urination. In the study, researchers measured the size of the prostate in 155 men without prostate cancer who were not taking medication for BPH. Half the men had enlarged prostates and half did not. Doctors found that those with higher circulating levels of calcium, HDL cholesterol, sex-hormone markers, or vitamin D were all less likely to have BPH. Discussing their findings, doctors said this study adds four new independent factors that may help reduce or prevent BPH, including calcium and vitamin D.
Reference: Journal of Urology; 2013, Vol. 190, No. 2:608-14
High circulating levels of vitamin D keep you healthier
Earlier studies showed vitamin D defends against infection. In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 1,421 men and women with healthy lungs at the start of the study. The average level of circulating vitamin D at that time was 43.5 nanomoles per liter of blood, which falls below the 50-nanomole optimal level, doctors said. After 10 years of follow up, compared to those with the lowest levels, men and women with the highest circulating levels of vitamin D were 61 percent less likely to have developed pneumonia at any time during the 10-year follow-up period.
Reference: Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health; 2013, Vol. 67, No. 6, 533-6
Those with highest levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the body produces little or no insulin, and therefore cannot metabolize sugar. Doctors in this study analyzed 1,000 blood samples from healthy people who later developed type 1 diabetes and compared to 1,000 people who remained healthy. Those with the highest levels of vitamin D were 70 percent less likely to develop type 1 diabetes compared to those with the lowest levels.
Reference: Diabetologia 2012 Dec; 55(12): 3224-7
Vitamin D improved muscle strength in ballet dancers
Athletes that train indoors during the winter months tend to have low levels of vitamin D due to lack of sunlight. Prior studies have linked low vitamin D levels to impaired performance and increased injury.
In this study, 24 elite classical ballet dancers took 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, or a placebo, during the winter. Doctors tested isometric muscle strength and vertical jump heights, and measured the rate of injury during the trial. After four months, compared to placebo, ballet dancers who had taken vitamin D had 18.7 percent greater isometric muscle strength and could jump 7.1 percent higher in vertical jumps. Also, dance-stress injuries in the vitamin D group were far fewer and milder than in those who did not take vitamin D.
Reference: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport; 2013, April 22, Published Online