Betty is a Registered Dietitian who earned her B.S. degree in Food and Nutrition from Marymount College of Fordham University and her M.S. degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. She is the Co-Director and Director of nutrition for the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
By the turn of the 20th century, 90% of the children living in New York,
Boston, and Leyden in the Netherlands were afflicted with rickets, a bone-deforming disease. The first observation of this disease was in the mid-1600s by
Whistler and Glissen, who reported that children living in industrialized cities
in Great Britain had short stature and deformities of the skeleton, especially
of the lower legs. It wasn't until 1889 that the discovery that "sunbathing" was
important for preventing rickets came about.
The need for vitamin D goes way beyond preventing and treating rickets.
Various researchers have claimed that vitamin D benefits are associated with the
Lowering incidence and severity of cardiovascular
Decreasing the incidence of type 2 diabetes: Research has shown that
those with blood vitamin D levels over 25 ng/mL had a 43% reduced risk of
developing type 2 diabetes compared with those with levels under 14 ng/mL.
Decreasing inflammation: Research has shown a decrease in levels of C-reactive
protein, a marker of inflammation, with increased levels of vitamin D to just
below 21 ng/mL.
Reducing risk of allergies in children and adolescents: A
nationwide study of over 6,000 individuals showed that allergic sensitization
was more common in those with vitamin D levels under 15 ng/mL versus those with
levels 30 ng/mL or more.
Decreasing dentalcavities: A 47% reduced risk of
cavities was found with vitamin D supplementation.
Prevention and treatment of
depression: Receptors for vitamin D are present on many areas of the brain
including the cingulate cortex and hippocampus, which have been implicated in
the pathophysiology of depression. Vitamin D is involved in numerous brain
processes, making it biologically likely that this vitamin might be associated
with depression and that its supplementation might play an important part in the
treatment of depression.
Possibly helping with erectile dysfunction (ED): It is not clear if
increasing your serum vitamin D levels can help with ED. Many men diagnosed with ED are diagnosed
with cardiovascular disease (CVD) within a few years. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with CVD, so if you
are deficient in vitamin D, some researchers believe that treating this could reduce your
risk of CVD and then possibly ED.
Regulating cholesterol levels in the blood:
It has been shown that without adequate sun exposure, vitamin D precursors turn
to cholesterol instead of vitamin D.
Decreasing mortality rate from certain
cancers: In 1941, U.S. pathologist Frank Apperly published geographic data that
demonstrated for the first time an inverse correlation between levels of
UV radiation in North America and mortality rates from cancers. This means that
more exposure to UV radiation (sun) leads to fewer deaths from cancers. In the meantime,
since this was published, it has been confirmed that there is an association
between increased risk of dying of various internal malignancies (for
example, colon, breast,
ovarian, melanoma, and prostate cancer) and decreasing latitude toward the
Decreasing risk of osteoarthritis: Vitamin D deficiency may increase
the risk of osteoarthritis.
Possibly helpful in prevention of fractures,
improving balance, and reducing the risk of falls in the elderly: There has been
some evidence suggesting that vitamin D supplementation may have these benefits,
but more research needs to be done to confirm it.
More research is needed to
determine the possible benefit of vitamin D as therapy for multiple sclerosis,
tuberculosis, influenza, and viral upper respiratory tract illnesses.
Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD on 6/18/2013