Numerous new studies are being published regarding the health benefits of vitamin D3 and the negative consequences of deficiency. These studies are of particular interest as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed that prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency jumped from 55 percent in 1988-1994 to 77 percent in 2001-2004.
Vitamin D, also known as calciferol, is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be produced by the body as well as obtained in the diet.
New studies are confirming that vitamin D3 insufficiency plays a role in numerous conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, decreased bone density, immune functions, fat deposition, diabetes and many others.
It is well-established that vitamin D3 and its relationship to calcium uptake and deposition plays a significant role in bone metabolism. Extreme vitamin D deficiency results in rickets and osteomalacia. However, long-term vitamin D insufficiency may also result in osteoporosis.
Cardiometabolic disorders including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and the metabolic syndrome have been associated with vitamin D3 deficiency. The metabolic syndrome is characterized by a group of risk factors that increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease and stroke. These conditions are increasingly common.
Researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression. In a recent randomized, double blind controlled trial, subjects with low vitamin D had significantly more depressive traits.
Vitamin D3 deficiency has also been associated with increased cancer risk. A meta-analysis of 11 studies found that individuals with the highest serum levels of D3 had a decreased risk of developing breast cancer by 45 percent compared to the subjects with the lowest serum D3 levels.
Recent research has also shown that subjects with the highest serum levels of D3 have a 40 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to individuals with the lowest D3 serum levels.
Weight Management, Pregnancy and Others
Two studies have recently been published regarding vitamin D3 deficiency and fat deposition. The studies showed that low serum levels of D3 was associated with increased fat infiltration in muscle tissue.
Another interesting area of vitamin D research is related to deficiency during pregnancy. Adverse health outcomes such as pre-eclampsia, low birth-weight, low calcium in neonatal blood, poor postnatal growth, bone fragility, and increased incidence of autoimmune diseases have been linked to low vitamin D3 serum levels during pregnancy and infancy.
Other interesting recently published studies have associated low levels of vitamin D3 with increased risks of upper respiratory infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, childhood asthma and allergies and decreased cognitive function.
Vitamin D3 deficiency is surprisingly common. The vast amount of new research regarding the diverse health benefits of vitamin D3 supplementation makes this essential vitamin an integral part of both health optimization and maintenance programs.