Published: October 23 2009
Reinhold Vieth is frustrated. A thin, bald professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Laboratory Medicine and Patho-biology, Vieth is among the most knowledgeable people in the world on the subject of vitamin D. He began studying it as a graduate student in 1974 and hasn’t changed his focus since. “I stick with vitamin D and follow it where it goes,” he says.
In recent years, vitamin D has been going to some exciting places. Reports of new and promising studies seem to emerge almost weekly. A 2007 analysis of vitamin D studies found that individuals with higher vitamin D levels are significantly – as much as 50 percent – less likely to develop colorectal cancer. Another 2007 study found that women who took 1,100 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per day together with a calcium supplement reduced their overall cancer risk by 60 percent. And the excitement is not only about cancer prevention.
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, depression and rheumatoid arthritis, among other diseases. Perhaps not surprisingly, in light of the other studies, one recent review of the health records of more than 13,000 Americans found that individuals with the lowest vitamin D levels were 26 percent more likely, in an eight-year period, to die than those with the highest levels.
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