Scientists are constantly searching for the fountain of life. They try to understand what makes us keep ticking – is it what we eat, how much we exercise, what is that X-factor that will keep us healthier, and alive, for longer? So far there has been no single answer to what can increase our lifespans. It’s always been a combination of genetics, lifestyle, eating and exercise habits that are credited with living longer and more fulfilling lives.
This question has led to some intensive, and interesting, research on the function of Vitamin D and the role it plays in reducing mortality. One paper published in 2007 analyzed 18 independent randomized controlled trials, including 57,311 participants while another studied results of randomized controlled trials that were published between 1983 and 2022. Both explored the effects of Vitamin D on mortality with interesting results.
While there have been plenty of other such reviews, these two papers demonstrate well-conducted systematic reviews and meta-analyses with reliable results.
Why Vitamin D Supplementation?
Vitamin D plays an important role in our body’s functions covering a wide spectrum of its activities – from building immunity to healthy hearts. It shot back into the spotlight during the dark days of the pandemic when researchers found a link between patients from countries with high COVID-19 mortality and lower levels of Vitamin D. They found that Vitamin D enhanced our immune systems and prevented them from becoming dangerously overactive which in turn could protect patients against severe complications, including death, from COVID-19.
The effects of Vitamin D in boosting immunity against COVID are now well-known. However, science has also found some other interesting benefits of Vitamin D and its effects on our lives.
- Vitamin D and Cancer: One study found that although Vitamin D supplementation did not reduce the incidence of cancer, it significantly reduced total cancer mortality. Another study conducted in Germany recommended that anyone aged 50 or older may benefit from Vitamin D supplementation as regular doses of Vitamin D3 can reduce cancer mortality rates by 12%. However, the mechanism behind these findings requires more research.
- Vitamin D and Your Heart: The relationship between Vitamin D and cardiovascular function is much more complex and scientists are still trying to understand it. One review found that a Vitamin D deficiency is linked to major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). However, whether Vitamin D supplementation can be preventive in nature is still a question and requires additional research.
- Vitamin D and Diabetes: The American Diabetes Association reports that low Vitamin D levels have also been linked to how your body uses insulin. It reports that the chances of developing insulin resistance are lower with Vitamin D supplementation. For those suffering from diabetes, they recommend getting Vitamin D levels tested as low Vitamin D levels have been linked to the development of foot ulcers.
Summing Up the Research
The effect of vitamin D on mortality is a topic of ongoing research and debate. Observational studies suggest that there is a strong possibility of a link between low Vitamin D levels and conditions like cancer, heart disease, and immune deficiencies. However, we still don’t know how genetics, race, lifestyle, and other factors determine the effects Vitamin D supplementation has on mortality. Having said that, the initial results are intriguing and demonstrate the importance of maintaining your Vitamin D levels.
So, while the jury’s still out on whether Vitamin D reduces mortality and although we don’t know if Vitamin D has a positive effect on mortality overall, it can certainly help you live a healthier and happier life.
A Word of Caution:
It’s always a good idea to get your Vitamin D levels tested as taking too much vitamin D can be harmful leading to a buildup of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.
While supplements can be beneficial to your daily routine, they should complement a balanced diet, not replace one. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen, as individual nutrient needs may vary based on age, health status, and lifestyle. Contact Dr. Datz if you need help choosing the right vitamins for you.