Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Forget vaccines...take your vitamin D

by Bill Sardi

    Health demographers guesstimate that if human populations in Northern Europe were to achieve adequate vitamin D3 levels (40 nanograms per milliliter of blood sample) this would save 17.7% in direct and indirect healthcare costs, saving hundreds of billions of dollars/Euros per year.

    If these Northern European statistics can be extrapolated to the United States, the U.S. would save about $4.4 trillion in healthcare costs over the next decade.

    Such an extrapolation cannot be cleanly made since Northern Europe exists in a less sunny climate where far less vitamin D is produced, particularly in winter months; however, vitamin D deficiency is widely reported even in sunny climates such as Florida.

    Repeated health warnings to avoid strong sun exposure caused Americans to stay out of the sun and to screen out solar radiation over the fear of skin cancer. Yet mortality from skin cancer is small next to the premature deaths caused by vitamin D shortages.

    Northern Europe is at a higher latitude, has a largely indoor lifestyle, has a general lack of vitamin D-fortified food and government regulations severely restrict dosage of vitamin D supplements. The latter measure ensures a certain level of disease in Northern European human populations.

    Mass vitamin D supplementation would save about $1346 per year in healthcare costs per person in the U.S., or over $4000 a year for a family of three. Costs to provide 3000 international units of daily supplemental vitamin D would be about $10/year per person.

    William B. Grant PhD of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), in San Francisco, is one of the researchers who drafted the report published in the March 4 issue of Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.

    The report estimates vitamin D3 supplementation would reduce the incidence of Type 1 childhood diabetes by a relative 78%; hip fracture by 26%; all cancer among postmenopausal women by 35%; seasonal flu and common cold incidence by 90% and overall mortality by 7%. Other studies show mortality rates would be reduced by 10–20% that would increase life expectancy by about 2–3 years.

    For every dollar spent on vitamin D supplementation, $20 healthcare dollars would be saved.

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