Vitamin D important for good health

Terrie McArthurFYI 6:01 a.m. MDT September 10, 2014
VitaminDOkay, I’m older now and the brain seems a little uncooperative sometimes.

I hate it when the data just seems to be lost, but my spouse says I just need a new hard drive.

But maybe there is more to it.

I came across an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, alternative medicine proponent and osteopathic physician, who has a website and writes about health and nutrition. This article was about vitamin D.

“Vitamin D research has repeatedly shown that vitamin D can improve a number of brain disorders, including depression and dementia — the most devastating form of which is Alzheimer’s disease,” Mercola writes. “Vitamin D receptors appear in a wide variety of brain tissue early in the fetal development, and activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in your brain.

“Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health,” Mercola says in his article. “Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on your brain through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. So, all of us need to get a little more vitamin D.”

Vitamin D deficiency drastically raises your risk for dementia.

Mercola says a recent study shows seniors who have low vitamin D may have double the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with vitamin D levels in the normal range.

Mercola says

Those with low levels of had a 53 percent increased risk for dementia, and a 70 percent higher risk of Alzheimer’s.

Severely deficient individuals had a 125 percent higher risk for dementia and 120 percent higher risk for Alzheimer’s.

Mercola says that research has found a link between depression and dementia and between depression and dementia and vitamin D deficiency and depression. One significant study found that higher levels of depression translated into greater risk for dementia later on.

“The severity of the depression was also linked to the speed of memory decline—the worse the depression, the faster the decline in memory,” Mercola says, quoting lead researcher Robert S. Wilson.

“These findings are exciting because they suggest depression truly is a risk factor for dementia, and if we can target and prevent or treat depression and causes of stress we may have the potential to help people maintain their thinking and memory abilities into old age,” Mercola says.

This explains why people who live in northern climates where the sun rarely shines suffer from greater levels of depression. I know I do. The root of the problem is likely to be lack of vitamin D, a vitamin produced by your body when exposed to sunlight.

In one previous study, seniors with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.

More recent research was discussed in a Times Online article.

“The Amsterdam research, which tracked over 1,200 people aged 65 to 95, showed that blood vitamin D levels were 14 percent lower in individuals with major and minor depression compared with non-depressed participants,” says the article. “A study in the United States indicated that vitamin D deficiency occurred more often in certain people, including African-Americans, city dwellers, the obese, and those suffering from depression.

“People with vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL had an 85 percent increased risk of depression compared to those with vitamin D levels greater than 30 ng/mL,” says the article.

Not only is lack of vitamin D associated with seasonal affective disorder, but also with fibromyalgia. High doses of vitamin D seem to help with these problems.

It may also help with diabetic pain and depression. In one study participants who reported neuropathic pain were given 50,000 IUs of vitamin D2 once a week for six months. At follow-up, both depression and pain scores had improved.

Researcher Todd Doyle, Ph.D., says vitamin D supplements are “a promising treatment for both pain and depression in type 2 diabetes.”

Mercola encourages those looking to supplement to use vitamin D3 rather than the prescribed D2, saying, “previous research suggests vitamin D2 might do more harm than good in the long term.”

He goes on to describe an Indian study that found vitamin D and calcium supplements combined with exercise can prevent a complete onset of diabetes.

In any case, both are part of diabetes prevention.

Other sources back Mercola up. Nephrology News reported in an article the deficiency has been linked to high blood sugar levels, though not enough to be considered diabetes. This condition is known as prediabetes.

It’s unclear whether or not bringing up vitamin D levels will affect the progression to diabetes, according to Nephrology News.

Mercola’s interpretation of the study is that supplements decreased the risks by 8 percent.

“Without healthy lifestyle changes, nothing works to prevent diabetes in at-risk individuals,” wrote the lead author of the study Deep Dutta.

Mercola points out the addition of the supplements of vitamin D and calcium is easy and a low-cost option.

Sadly a MedicineNet article reported findings that a percentage of senior citizens seen in American emergency rooms are malnourished or at risk of being malnourished. Having primary care physicians and health insurance didn’t seem to make a difference.

MedicineNet reported seniors most likely to suffer from the lack of proper vitamin intake were those who suffered from depression, were in assisted-living, had difficulties with their dentures or dental pain or had problems shopping for food.

I take this to mean those seniors who are malnourished also suffer from a lack of vitamin D. These are important to health, including to seniors.

Everyone is in charge of their bodies. Do the research and decide for yourself if you are vitamin D deficient.

I take some as a matter of course.

Just because we live in the desert with lots of sun doesn’t mean we are immune to the deficiency.

Go online to to read more.

If seniors are malnourished, then they most likely have a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D and calcium are inexpensive and import to senior health. You are in charge of your body, so you need to do the research and see if you are in need of more vitamin D. I take some as a matter of course.

You will have people tell you that because we live in a climate with lots of sun this isn’t necessary, but remember that ancient humans were mostly naked, so their skin was always exposed to the sun.

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