vitamin D levels

  1. Bright spot in depression battle

    Forget Big Pharma's dangerous roster of expensive antidepressant drugs... because the real answer to some cases of the blues might be staring down at you right now.

    A new study finds that seniors might be able to lower their risk of depression by simply spending a little more time in the company of our warmest neighbor: the sun.

    Researchers looked at vitamin D levels in 531 women and 423 men, all 65 years old or older. Then, over six years, they tracked those D levels along with symptoms of depression.

    The researchers found that those with the lowest levels of the sunshine vitamin had the highest risk of depression-- especially women.

    The joint study between U.S. and Italian researchers published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism isn't conclusive, since it was observational... but it's one more log in a growing fire, because vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to depression in the past.

    One 2008 study found that low levels of D combined with higher levels of the parathyroid hormone appeared to increase the risk of depression in people between the ages of 65 and 95 years old.

    Other studies have made similar connections--and not only among seniors. Just look at the millions of people who've felt the winter blues, or seasonal affective disorder. It's no coincidence this condition hits when sun exposure is at its lowest and people are even more likely to suffer from deficiencies in D.

    The cutoff point in the latest study was 50 nanomoles per liter of D in the blood--anything below that appeared to increase the depression risk. But even those levels are really much lower than what you should have.

    And the sad reality is, most people are in that category.

    I've written to you before about our collective D crisis, as well as all the other amazing benefits of this one simple hormone. (Read, "Vitamin D miracles keep mounting.") Vitamin D can help with everything from bone health to longer lives, and lower your risk for everything from diabetes to heart disease.

    A doctor can check your D levels--but even those tests aren't failsafe. There's no single standard for vitamin D tests, and last year one of the nation's biggest laboratories--Quest Diagnostics--admitted that it had been botching D tests for two years.

    As a result, many people with D deficiencies were actually told they had high levels.

    There's a simple answer, and it's right above you: Get outside a little more and soak up some sun. No one needs to turn into a beach bunny, but a few minutes of direct sunlight a day can help your body make its own D, for free.

    But since even sun quality can vary, and most people simply don't get out enough, add a supplement just to make sure you're covered.

  2. Vitamin D can beat cognitive decline

    Step out into the light--it's not just good for your body, it's good for your brain, too.

    Two new studies on seniors find that vitamin D can help lower your risk for one of aging's biggest nightmares: cognitive decline.

    In fact, there seems to be a direct relationship between the two--because researchers behind both studies have found that people with the lowest levels of the sunshine vitamin have the highest risk of cognitive decline, a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

    In the first study, researchers measured the vitamin D levels of 150 people 70 or older, with an average age of 85. All of them were still living on their own. Then, they gave each of them a 30- point test used to diagnose cognitive impairment.

    The researchers found that those with the lowest D levels did the worst on the test, according to the study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

    In fact, the 42 patients who managed to get a perfect score had an average vitamin D level of 42.8 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Those whose tests suggested mild impairment had an average of 34.8 nanograms per milliliter.

    In the second study, also presented at the same meeting, researchers looked at 752 French women aged 75 or older. They found that women with D levels below 10 nanograms per milliliter were twice as likely to suffer from cognitive impairment than women with higher levels of D.

    It's pretty simple: Lose the D, and you might lose your mind.

    But the benefits don't end there, because vitamin D is as close to a miracle pill as you'll ever find.

    Vitamin D can help fight off heart disease, boost your immune system, lower your risk of diabetes, and strengthen bones. Studies have found it may lower your risk of cancer, boost muscle strength and lower blood pressure.

    It can even lower your risk of death from all causes (although that one catches up to all of us eventually).

    This simple nutrient probably gives Big Pharma executives nightmares, because all their billion- dollar budgets still haven't given them anything they can sell that's as safe and effective as a nutrient you can get for free from sunlight.

    But that hasn't stopped them from trying.

    They've created a synthetic prescription version of vitamin D, actually D2, which is inferior in every way to the natural vitamin D3 you get in any health food store or supermarket.

    Don't be fooled--whether you're looking to ward off cognitive decline or just want to make sure you're not among the tens of millions of Americans with a D deficiency, make sure you get the right stuff.

  3. Vitamin D miracles keep mounting

    There's one simple thing you can do to dramatically reduce your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome all at once. Get outside a little more.

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