New study suggests vitamin D can help boost longevity

Getting enough vitamin D daily is even more important than previously thought. As a crucial nutrient, vitamin D helps us remain in good health by keeping our bones and muscles strong.

Why is vitamin D important?

Since vitamin D cannot be synthesised in the body, it must be obtained through diet. You need vitamin D to receive calcium from your gut and build and maintain your bones.

In combination with calcium, it may prevent osteoporosis. Additionally, vitamin D plays a role in glucose metabolism and immune function.

Besides supporting bone formation, these nutrients also support anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, as well as diabetes, heart disease, muscle function and brain activity. Vitamin D, however, has much fewer proven effects.

What are the typical symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

Vitamin D deficiency can cause brittle bones and elevated levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. A link has been found between vitamin D deficiency and premature mortality risk.

Deficiency of vitamin D in children can lead to rickets, which can lead to bone deformities and, if severe, developmental delays or even inability to thrive.

Featured product offer
Elm & Rye Vitamin D3
  • Available in capsules and gummies.
  • High levels of Vitamin D lead to leaner bodies, increased muscle mass, and better muscle function.
  • Contains Vitamin D and calcium that help maintain bone health.

The latest in vitamin D and longevity

According to a new study appearing in Annals of Internal Medicine, vitamin D deficiency may increase mortality risk [1]. Without enough vitamin D, your risk of death increases if you are deficient in it.

Although vitamin D has been connected to mortality, its causal effects have been challenging to prove, according to UniSA PhD student Josh Sutherland.

“While severe vitamin D deficiency is rarer in Australia than elsewhere in the world, it can still affect those who have health vulnerabilities,” Sutherland says. They include the elderly and those who do not acquire adequate vitamin D from sunlight and dietary sources.

The study provides strong evidence that low vitamin D levels are associated with mortality, and it is the first of its kind to address respiratory disease-related mortality as well.

By utilising a new genetic technique, the researchers were able to confirm the nonlinear relationships they had observed in observational settings. By doing this, they were able to demonstrate the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and premature death.

Vitamin D assists in regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body as these nutrients are needed to maintain muscles, bones and teeth in top shape

Even though vitamin D deficiency has been linked with mortality, Sutherland notes that clinical trials have often failed to recruit vitamin D deficient participants.

Or they have been forbidden from including vitamin D deficient participants – making it difficult to determine a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and mortality.

Statistics and results 

Researchers aimed to examine the impact of low vitamin D status in mortality among 307,601 unrelated UK Biobank participants of white European ancestry (aged 37 to 73 at recruitment). During the 14-year-long study, there were 18,700 deaths. 

Consequently, a 25 per cent higher likelihood of dying from any cause was found among participants lacking in vitamin D than among those who aren’t.

Those who were physically active, nonsmokers and living in southern areas had higher levels of vitamin D, as did those with fewer socioeconomic challenges.

Even though this study was extensive, there was a significant limitation – participants had to be white European ancestry. Therefore, the results might not be generalisable. 

Clinicians weigh in

The body of evidence needs to be expanded to include more diverse populations, explains Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN, Brooklyn, NY plant-forward culinary nutritionist. There is also a necessity for further research on effective strategies to prevent vitamin D deficiency.” [2]

Low levels of vitamin D aren’t the first time health problems are associated with them. In fact, vitamin d deficit is connected to inflammation, according to previous research. 

These new findings may be explained in part by lower inflammation, but many other factors may also be involved, according to the authors of this study.

When interpreting study results, it is important to avoid conflating association with causation. According to a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, David Cutler, MD.

Increasing vitamin D will not improve the disease outcome through preventing infection, enhancing the immune system, or modifying the course of the disease. 

Generally, any benefit of increasing vitamin D levels in this study was restricted to those with very low levels, so boosting vitamin D intake if you’re already within healthy levels won’t help you.

What is the best way to get enough vitamin D?

You can get vitamin D by exposing yourself to the sun, which is also known as the “sunshine” vitamin.

Talk to your physician or dietitian if you may require supplemental vitamin D if your skin doesn’t receive adequate sunlight, if you are over 65, or if you have specific health issues.

Vitamin D-rich foods, according to Newgent, include:

  • Fortified plant-based foods (plant milk and yoghurt, tofu, cereals and orange juice)
  • Fortified dairy milk and yoghurt
  • Maitake mushrooms
  • Mushrooms (white button, crimini and portabella, when exposed to UV-light)
  • Salmon

Your bones need vitamin D – it’s vital to your health!

Featured product offer
Global Healing Vitamin D3
  • Vegan formula for strong bones, immune support, and brain optimization with active vitamin D.
  • Made from organic lichen and has cholecalciferol, the active form of vitamin D produced by sunlight.
  • Gives 5,000 IU per serving.

[1] https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M21-3324
[2] https://www.prevention.com/health/a41830536/study-vitamin-d-deficiency-may-increase-risk-of-premature-death/

Photograph: Yulia Furman/Shutterstock
The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.