Longevity has become a very popular topic and a big business at the same time. And even though all this excitement about longevity is sometimes exaggerated, research shows there is much we can do to prolong our lifespan.
A long-term study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that there are at least three key factors able to impose a significant impact on longevity. They include a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding cigarette smoking. According to the research, those who practiced those principles reduced their chances of dying by 80 percent (1).
One of the most effective ways of prolonging life is going on a diet rich in healthy unrefined whole plant foods. The key reason why it helps is because on average, unrefined and unprocessed plant foods may contain over 60 times more antioxidants than animal foods.
Antioxidants slow down ageing process by reducing cellular damage cause by free radicals we get from pollution, toxins, processed foods, stress, and other sources.
Also, supporting our diet with supplemental antioxidants has been proven to give excellent results in reducing oxidative damage and slowing the ageing process. Among the most recommended nutritional antioxidants are the following: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Pine Bark Extract, Resveratrol, Coenzyme Q10, Acetyl L-Carnitine, L-Cysteine & N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Quercetin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Selenium.
Vitamin D and Longevity
In 1822, a Polish physician, Jedrzej Sniadecki, was the first to publish that sunlight could cure the rickets – disease caused by Vitamin D deficiency. He noted that children living in the inner city of Warsaw had much higher incidence of rickets than children of the adjacent rural areas (2). Unfortunately, his work was ignored by mainstream medicine for over a century.
Now we know that getting enough Vitamin D daily is even more important than previously thought. As a crucial nutrient, it helps us remain in good health by keeping our immune system, brain, bones, and muscles healthy and strong. In addition, it helps prevent diabetes and heart disease, and has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.
Various clinical trials have found that Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) supplements can extend our lifespan. Low levels of this Vitamin, on the other hand, were associated with increased mortality. As the levels go up, mortality appears to go down. Interestingly, scientists have repeatedly demonstrated that one of the reasons why it boosts longevity is that it also works as a natural antioxidant, helping repair damaged DNA (3).
Researchers have documented correlations between higher Vitamin D levels and all sorts of positive outcomes like reduction in cardiovascular problems, overweight, infectious diseases, depression, dementia, and high blood pressure.
Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal, investigated data from more than 300,000 participants between the ages of 37 and 73 and tracked their health status for 14 years. According to the results, individuals with higher levels of Vitamin D had a significantly lower risk of death from all causes compared to those with lower levels (4).
The same study results claim that low levels of the “Sunshine Vitamin” can be associated with reduced brain volumes and brain decline. On the other hand, correcting the deficiency can prevent almost 20% dementia cases.
One of the conditions for which supplements with this Vitamin appear to genuinely work, is because it helps to prevent premature death. Fifty-six clinical trials involving 100,000 people between the ages of 18 and 107 were taken into consideration to evaluate the role of this Vitamin in boosting the lifespan (4).
After putting all the studies together the research showed that people given supplements lived longer and specifically had a lower risk of dying from cancer. This effect, however, was limited to natural Vitamin D3, not D2, produced by irradiating yeast (5).
According to another study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the deficiency may increase mortality risk (5).
It is a well-established scientific fact that shortening of the leukocyte telomere length is associated with faster rates of ageing. However, there is evidence that Vitamin D may protect telomere length thus having a potential to prolong the lifespan (6).
The Sunshine Vitamin helps boost longevity also because it plays a critical role in maintaining a strong immunity. In this way it helps reduce the risk of dying from infectious diseases and various types of cancer. There are almost one thousand references in the medical literature demonstrating its effectiveness in preventing various types of cancer (including melanoma) (7).
In a study conducted in Canada, scientists called up Canadian women who had breast cancer and asked them how much sun exposures they had as teenagers and young adults. They also called up the same number of women that didn’t have breast cancer, asking the same question. The study concluded that women that had the most frequent sun exposures during their teenage years and young adult years, reduced their risk of getting breast cancer by 69%! (7)
A study done from the Nurses’ Health Study out of Harvard, showed that nurses who were taking 3,000 to 4,000 IUs daily, reduced their risk of getting breast cancer by about 50% (8).
Vitamin D increases our lifespan also because it assists the immune system in fighting viral infections, including flu and cold. It does it by stimulating immune cells and by producing natural and harmless antibiotics (9).
According to one research, there is a “strong correlation between prevalence of severe Vitamin d deficiency and population mortality rate from covid-19 in Europe (10).
U.K. researchers evaluated the average Vitamin D levels and the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as the death rates, across European countries. They concluded that the countries with low average blood levels of this Vitamin had significantly higher numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths (11).
We know that type 2 diabetes increases the risk of death due to heart disease, kidney failure, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D helps to reduce those risks and increases our lifespan by improving insulin sensitivity, helping regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance (12).
A region of the brain which controls body weight and glucose levels has Vitamin D receptors. Therefore, lack of it is a risk factor for the development of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
Its deficiency is linked to increased risks for cardiovascular problems because it is involved in regulating cholesterol levels and blood pressure. A Framingham Heart Study showed that individuals who were Vitamin D deficient, had a 50% higher risk of having a heart attack. And those who had a heart attack and were Vitamin D deficient, had a 100% increased risk of dying of that heart attack (13).
The Sunshine Vitamin plays an important role in regulating brain function. It aids the development of the nervous system and brain, helping postpone the decline of the nerve cells. Researchers found that low levels of this vitamin cause damage to the brain (14).
The Right Dosage
Some experts maintain that for those who take about 3,000 IU daily, routine testing is not necessary. Overweight individuals and those who are over 70, may need taking 3,000-5,000 IU daily to hit the target.
As we age, the conversion of inactive Vitamin D3 into active D4 is reduced by 50% due to age-related decline of the kidney function. Fortunately, few thousand IUs a day (with 200-300mg of supplemental Magnesium to ensure the activation of Vitamin D in kidneys) should bring almost everyone up without risking toxicity.
However, since the deficiency is so widespread it is suggested (for those with diagnosed deficiency) to take 20,000 IU daily with meals for the first few months and after that, reducing it to the maintenance daily dose of 4,000-5,000 IU daily.
The most convenient way of supplementation is taking one capsule of a strong Vitamin D3 20,000 IU once every five or six days with breakfast. Supplemental Cholecalciferol (Vit. D3) doesn’t have to be taken every day because it is stored in the liver and disposed according to the needs.
Magnesium, such as Magnesium Citrate Powder (150-200mg twice daily) should be taken with Vitamin D3 supplements. It is important because Magnesium is needed to convert Cholecalciferol (D3) into its active D4 form in the kidneys. Without enough Magnesium, Cholecalciferol remains inactive and useless. In addition, it will lead to Magnesium deficiency, causing sleep problems and other issues.
There are more ways to test for Vitamin D but the only reliable one seems to be the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also called the 25(OH) D test. Other types of tests can be misleading showing normal or even elevated levels, despite serious deficiency.
- Sniadecki J. on the cure of rickets. (1840) Cited by W Mozolowski. Nature 1939;143:121–4.
- The possible roles of solar ultraviolet-B radiation and vitamin D in reducing case-fatality rates from the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States - PubMed (nih.gov)
- Strong Correlation Between Prevalence of Severe Vitamin D Deficiency and Population Mortality Rate from COVID-19 in Europe | medRxiv
- The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection and mortality | Research Square
- Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes - PubMed (nih.gov)
- A new study reveals the importance of vitamin D on heart health (medicalnewstoday.com)
- New UK Study Suggests Low Vitamin D Causes Damage to Brain | UKNow (uky.edu)
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.