The One Vitamin Most People Should Take

Americans really like the idea of popping a pill every day that will make them healthier and happier. They think that pill is a multivitamin, but they’re wrong. More than half of us take a multivitamin tablet every day, but study after study shows it’s a waste of money and could even make you sick.

Although you need an intake of 13 different vitamins to lead a healthy life, the last thing you need to do is add vitamins to your diet — there’s a large probability you’re getting all the vitamins you need from even a relatively bad diet. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of wondering these days if the vitamins you think you’re swallowing are actually in the pills you bought.

But there’s one exception to this tale, and an extraordinary amount of evidence is building that you probably do need more of one, and only one, vitamin — D. Indications are that most people need more of it than anyone realized.

Although I wrote about other benefits of vitamin D last month, I feel that the latest study about vitamin D and health, published April 30 in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, is too remarkable to go unnoticed.

The epidemiological study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego focused on data from 107 countries around the globe. It found that people living in higher latitudes and with significant cloud cover are up to six times more likely to get pancreatic cancer than people who live closer to the equator and are exposed to more sunlight. Sunlight in the form of UVB radiation helps the human body make vitamin D.

Studies from as long ago as 2010, some by the same team of scientists, discovered that breast cancer and colon cancer are more prevalent among people with low levels of vitamin D.

Major studies are now underway with animals and humans to see if pancreatic cancer can be treated with doses of vitamin D. The disease kills about 32,000 Americans a year and is aggressive, killing at least 93% of patients within five years. The median survival time after diagnosis is three–six months.

The first author of the study, Dr. Cedric Garland, an adjunct professor at the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UCSD, says many people who live in the United States should be taking vitamin D. Supplements are recommended rather than sun exposure to the skin, which can cause melanoma.

Nonetheless, overdoses of vitamin D can cause calcium salts to build up in the kidneys, the heart or the lungs. FDA guidelines for vitamin D supplements suggest not taking more than 4,000 IU per day, and many physicians seem to feel that 2,000 IU per day is all that may be needed. A simple blood test at your physician’s office with an annual physical can tell you if more vitamin D is a good idea for you.

To your health and wealth,

Stephen L. Petranek
for The Daily Reckoning

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