Life Extension Magazine®
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In The News: Vitamin D Deficiencies On The Rise In The US

Prevalence of low vitamin D increasing; low vitamin D associated with heart disease; low vitamin D linked to pelvic floor disorders; vitamin D reduces blood glucose.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on March 2021.

Low Vitamin D Levels on the Rise in the U.S.

The number of Americans with low levels of vitamin D is on the rise, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.*

Researchers compared vitamin D levels in blood samples from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys of 1988-1994 and 2001-2004.

From 1988-2004, the average vitamin D level dropped from 30 ng/mL to 24 ng/mL (Optimal levels are over 50 ng/mL).

The percentage of people with vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL decreased from 45% to 23%. And the percentage of people with vitamin D below 10 ng/mL increased from 2% to 6%.

The rise in vitamin D deficiency was especially alarming among non-Hispanic Black Americans, increasing from 9% to 29% in just over 10 years.

Editor’s Note: “Current recommendations for dosage of vitamin D supplements are inadequate to address this growing epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency,” lead author Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH, and colleagues stated. “Increased intake of vitamin D (greater than or equal to 1,000 IU/day)—particularly during the winter months and at higher latitudes—and judicious sun exposure, would improve vitamin D status and likely improve the overall health of the U.S. population.” Life Extension has reviewed thousands of 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood tests for the past 15 years. Daily intake of 5,000 IU and higher of supplemental vitamin D is required to achieve optimal status (above 50 ng/mL).


*Arch Intern Med. 2009 Mar 23;169(6):626-32.

Deficiency in Vitamin D Linked to Heart Disease

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Research presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Meeting added more evidence to the link between low levels of vitamin D and heart disease.*

After examining nearly 1,500 patients, researchers found that 70% of those undergoing angiography (a test to detect blocked arteries) were deficient in vitamin D.

In addition, the individuals deficient in vitamin D had a 32% greater risk of coronary artery disease, and a nearly 20% increased risk of having the most severe level of disease.

Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease and occurs when the arteries become hard and narrow, slowing blood flow to the heart. It is typically caused by a buildup of plaque inside arteries, called atherosclerosis.

Editor’s Note: According to study investigator Dr. Monica Verdoia, these results, “suggest vitamin D deficiency to be the cause rather than the consequence of atherosclerosis.”


* American College of Cardiology 63rd Annual Scientific Session. 2014 Mar.

Women’s Pelvic Floor Disorders Associated with Low Vitamin D

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One in four women suffers from a pelvic floor disorder such as urinary or fecal incontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse.

A study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found a link between low levels of vitamin D and pelvic floor disorders.*

Researchers evaluated 1,881 non-pregnant women who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey.

Vitamin D levels were found to be significantly lower in women who reported having one or more pelvic floor disorders, while increased vitamin D levels were associated with a lower risk of the disorders. Specifically, older women with normal vitamin D levels had a 45% decreased risk of urinary incontinence.

Editor’s Note: “Higher vitamin D levels were associated with a decreased risk of any pelvic floor disorder in all women,” said lead researcher Samuel Badalian, MD, PhD. “Given the increase in the number of patients with pelvic floor disorders, further evaluation of the role of vitamin D is warranted.”


*Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Apr;115(4):795-803.

Higher Levels of Vitamin D Connected to Lower Blood Glucose in Women

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An association was found between higher serum vitamin D levels and lower levels of blood glucose in women, according to an article published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society.* Higher glucose levels are linked to an increased risk of developing type II diabetes.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Sao Paulo School of Public Health in Brazil, the study included 680 women aged 35 to 74, whose fasting blood samples were analyzed for levels of glucose and 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D levels of less than 30 ng/mL were detected in 65.4% of the participants.

Having a vitamin D level of less than 30 ng/mL was associated with a 29% greater chance of having a blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL or more, compared to having a higher level of the vitamin.

Editor’s Note: “There is now evidence that a higher serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) is associated with a lower risk of developing type II diabetes mellitus, because it provides better glycemic control, possibly by promoting greater insulin sensitivity, and also by improving pancreatic beta cell function,” the authors stated.


*Menopause. 2019 Jul;26(7):781-784.