Low Vitamin D Associated with Increased Risk of Death

A report in the July 11th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine states that people with low levels of vitamin D appear to have a higher risk of death from all causes.

According to background information in the article, several studies have suggested that vitamin D deficiency contributes to cardiovascular disease, cancer and death. The optimum level for Vitamin D is supposed to be 30 nanograms per milliliter or higher. The report states that approximately 53% of women and 41% of men have levels lower than 28 nanograms per milliter.

Michal L. Melamed, MD, MHS, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, and colleagues analyzed vitamin D levels in 13,331 individuals who participated in the Third National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES III), conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vitamin D levels were collected between 1988 and 1994, and participants were tracked through 2000.

Over a median (midpoint) of 8.7 years of follow-up, 1,806 of the participants died. When they were divided into four groups (quartiles) based on their vitamin D levels, those in the group with the lowest level (less than 17.8 nanograms per milliliter) had a 26 percent increased rate of death from any cause compared with those in the group with the highest vitamin D levels. No significant associations were found when the researchers assessed vitamin D levels and risk of death from cardiovascular disease or cancer alone. Low vitamin D levels may be associated with death through their effect on blood pressure, the body’s ability to respond to insulin, obesity and diabetes risk, the authors note.

Other evidence that supports the risk of vitamin D deficiency’s role in death risk includes:

  • Cardiovascular events are more common in the winter when vitamin D levels are at their lowest.
  • Cancer survival is better if the cancer is diagnosed in the summer rather than in the winter.

The authors conclude that those with less than 17.8 nanograms per milliliter) is associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality in the general U.S. population.


Other Fighting Fatigue articles on Vitamin D Deficiency:

Vitamin D Deficiency: A Disease of Neglect

Low Vitamin D May Be Harmful to Bones of Those with IBD

Vitamin D & Vitamin D Deficiency Links

Vitamin D Deficiency Tied to Back Pain In Older Women

The Dangers of Vitamin D Deficiency

Thanks to How to Cope with Pain for including this post as part of their monthly blog carnival.

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  1. My Dr. just told me that I am low on Vitamin D. She prescribed 50,000 IU weekly for 2 months then once a month. Is this not available over the counter and is this serious?

    • I was able to buy a bottle of vitamin D capsules at the grocery store that are 10,000 units a piece. It was buy one bottle get one free. All you need to do is take 5 of them and you have 50000 units. Very inexpensive.

  2. i think its over exgarrated !!

  3. I’ve been suffering from all the symtoms listed for Vitamin D deficiency…and I’ve been going to the doctors for help for 5 years, finally on a hunch, a new woman’s doctor tested my Vitamin D levels…16.79, that’s my score. She’s putting me on 50, 000 UI twice a week for three months…and will test me again.

  4. I just informed about my Vitamin D level is 9. My doc will put me on a pill once a week for next 6 weeks. It is kind of very low score. How serious is it? What should I pay attention to? Thanks for any advice.

  5. onlyfranksgirl says:

    I have been so worried about my vitamin d level and have searched the internet for information. I had a bone scan done last summer and it showed that I have arthritis in my shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles (I am only 37). So my family dr. checked for ra and checked my vitamin d level. My d level was 18 so he told me to get some vitamin d supplements. After taking them for 4 mos. my d level dropped to 15 and then a month later it is now 12. I get plenty of sunlight as I have a 6 yr old daughter and a 15 yr old daughter (and a yorkie that I have to take outside for 10-15 minutes several times a day). I am just at a loss now as to what to do. My dr. wants me to see a rheumatologist but I have no health insurance whatsoever. If anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated!

  6. To amna who think this over rated you abviously dont know what pain is ….

  7. No one would believe what I’ve been through for the last 5 years. I have been through 8 DRs.. and finally went to an internal specialist who sent me to a bone dr /then to an arthritis specialist. All these Drs knew my Mom died at the age of 43 in 1984 from PSS with the crest. Of course all these years later more is known. My sister has lupus and immune system problems, platelett problems. But the other Drs treated me for manic depressant said nothing else was wrong..quit smoking, lose weight,excercise /get a new job..get a divorce…None of these drs would do anything except write me scripts to function /chest xrays and the normal cholesteral/cbcs to diagnose from. then they had the nerve to do a drug screen to make sure I was taking the Controled Substances as prescribed and not selling or abusing.Long story short, I am taking megadose prednisone,I have what is known (so far} as the CREST. Which my mother had also…so this Dr started me with 3 other medicines… megadoses(short term) Yesterday I started on 50,000 units of vitamin D one time a week for the next 3 months. Then we will see what to do in 4 weeks when all the other blood tests come back (12 tubes of blood this new Dr drew from me for 31 tests} I am a Master Gardener soon to be 50. I have always been in the sun, loving it. Now I have 100% suncreen and who knows what else other than all these pills. I thank God my husband last October said enough is enough and that is when I did quit my job and started this journey to get well. We have 4 grown children and 11 wonder grand children I want to live for. Amazing that I finally know what is wrong and that I am not crazy. All this pain is NOT in my head. I just pray modern medicine caught it in time for me to be a survivor of misdiagnosis.

    • Hi Lee, Thanks for taking the time to stop by and post a comment. It sounds as though you have really been through a lot and I’m glad to hear that you are getting some treatment. Your mother was so young when she died – I will be 40 this month so that strikes something in me. I’m sure quitting your job has made a big difference in your road to recovery. You are not crazy – no one knows our bodies anymore than us and we know when we are sick. Continue fighting for yourself and get better! ­čÖé

  8. thanks Sandy. I needed a little push today. things are getting better as the medicines get into my system better. I am so excited to take my vitamin D capsule I dont know if I can wait till this afternoon/ but I will.
    Yes my mom was very young but back then getting a correct diagnosis was almost impossible. By the time we knew what it was the PSS had gone to her kidneys and lungs and esophagus….25 years later and medicine has cme a long way
    Thanks again. Have a great day

  9. trisha hall says:

    wow-never heard of this, but found out thats what I have. funny how all my labs for years, including being told I have a malobsorption disease that no one thought to test me for this. I suffered with everything for 7 years, can’t believe no doctor until now thought to test me. I’m in shock.
    anyone out there want to share their experiences with me e-mail me at Patricewhiterose@yahoo.com

  10. Hi,I had no idea that low Vitamin D levels was so serious,for the pass two years I have been suffering from extreme fatique and back and leg pain,shortness of breath, fast heart beat,just plain worn out all the time and not feeling like myself,I would have to sit down or lay down through out the day to rest, I got dark circles under my eyes,thinning hair,I have 5 year old twins and thought the was just giving me a run for my money(LOL)!A month and a half ago I went to the doctor and discovered that my vitamin D level was 8.7 and iron level was 17.3, I’ve been put on 50,000 units of vitamin D once a week and iron pills 2 times a day and feeling a little better,thanks for the opportunity to talk about this.

  11. Over a month ago I went to my doctor and ask him to test my vitamin D leve. Sure enough it was below the normal level at 17. What a difference it made after taking the 50,000 once a week. My feet, ankles, hips and knee joints no longer aches. I still experience some shoudler pain. I so thankful to find out what was causing my problem. I look forward in returning to the doctor to see where my vitamin D level is at. Recently I have started to experience heart palpatations and muscle pain on both side below my breast.

  12. reading blogs on low vitamin d actually made me more aware of what’s going on with my health. i need to do a 360 on my diet plan and start getting a good dose of vitamin d (and all the others as well).

  13. Vickie McBra says:

    Well, add me to the list oflow Vit D. victims. I have been trated for 6 years for fibromyalgia, sjorgrens syndrome, post polio syndrome an andible necrosis (sidde effect of Fosamax). I have been in constant pain, wither muscules, joints or bones all this time. My autoimmune disorders will wan slightly, then flare right up again. I think many times my doctors have thought my real diagnosis was hypochondira. My blood pressure stays high, no matter what meds I’m put on. I have tachycardia. Severe esophageal and diaphram spasma. But I think I could have lived with all those if it weren’t for the fatigue. Like others, have routinely had mega test run, usually for all the autoimmune disorder stuff. last week my doctor added vit d test. She is not even sure what her made it add to lab order, but we are so glad she did. I went for lab follow-up and HTN check today and found out my Vit D level is 6. Scared the doctor pretty good. She said she had recently read med journal articles about htn and increased risk from low D and she guesses that is why she added to order. So now I will be on mega weekly doses for 8 weeks, then retest. If not up to needed levels she is to try injections of D, which I have been told are pretty painful. Oh, well — can’t match the pain I have lived with for all these years. The crazy thing is I am a nurse and never once suspected a vitamin deficiency could be causing ALL of my symptoms. I hope everyone out there has success. I am waiting with hope.

  14. I been hurting and in pain since i can even remember. It sorta began when i started playing sports in the 7th grade. I’m now a junior in college, 20 years old. I’ve been to all kinds of doctors bone doctor, heart specialist, internal medicine. They began staying it was growing pain, then shin splints too other outrageous diagnose. After my junior year i gave up sports because the pain got just that bad to where i would literally be in tears after running or playing basketball. I thought the pain would go away since i was as active as i was. Of course the pain didn’t, i just been dealing with it since until May this year i went back to my family doctor complaining about my symptoms again he ran test & the tests came back positive for arthritis, so he referred me to a clinic for Rheumatic diseases. When i went in for the visit the doctor initially thought i had lupus because of all the similar symptoms but after running just a few test he found that my vitamin D level was 9. I’ve been on a three month supply of supplements & currently awaiting my follow up appointment which is in about a month. I hope that this is really all it is & not something like lupus. I just pray as days go by that this problem gets better and just goes away. I am only 20 years old & stuff like this scares me!

  15. I am happy to know that after my second visit to my doc. I finally got an answer —- vit. d deficiency! It took 10 months for me to know. I had a hint before and did self-prescription for a calcium deficiency . I had calcium and vit d (1000IU) but since it was just a hint I discontinued. Now that I am having spondylosis ( a form of athritis on my spine) and some pain on joints of my hands and feet, feel tired all the time, and having heart palpitation and chest pain I realized now, how serius is vit. deficiency is. I need to get my vit d tom. at the pharmacy. I need 50,ooo IU a week. Thanks for the infos.

  16. So I’m a 30 year old male, did my yearly check up, and my doctor calls saying that my Vitamin D level is at 9!! I don’t have bone aches, or anything else.

    Am I going to be OK, he did give me the “Super Pill” 50,000 Unit Vitamin D2 twice a week.

    Why was my vitamin D so low, I don’t get alot of sun, noone does here. But I would have never been able to tell!

    Is 9 real bad?

  17. I am a 49 yr old female. Was injured at work in 06 and 07. Had a Cervical Fusion C5-6, C6-7 complications during surgery my rt. vocal cord was severed.
    Have had a complete tear of rt. rotator cuff which is now retorn. Dr.’s would not allow me to return to work as I could barely walk and only have a whisper for voice. In pain 24/7. My husband is disabled with a bad heart condition. Losing half of our income we lost our home and moved to FL so we had some family members to help with my care. I was able to walk some around the house using cane and walker. But for about the last 3 months I have been falling alot and running into walls. I am dizzy, get confused and just plain exhausted. My neurologist does not want me trying to even walk right now. My vision is blurry and it seems as though my immune system has all but shut down. We found a very nice Primary Care Physician who routinely screens her patients for Vit. D problems and Vitamin B problems. I had gone to her as I had double ear infections, throat infection, an infection on my finger that looked like the flesh eating disease. I was given antibiotics and ointments and ear drops. Also went for my blood test. The next day her office called and said my vit. b-12 levels were low and I am getting a shot once a week for this. Then the next day I get a call and her assistant tells me my Vit. D levels almost do not register they are <4. It's hard when you don't talk directly to the dr. From reading the above posts it sounds as though my levels are extremely low. I was put on 50,000 ui Vit. D for 24 weeks. With what everyone is saying it sounds as though my levels are dangerously low and now I am scared. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I never knew a person could feel so ill due to this deficiency. How bad is a level under 4? Is there anything I can do besides the pill. I can not get around well. I have no strength in arms or legs. My right foot is completely numb. I have spinal cord stenosis cervical and lumbar.
    Thanks for any input

  18. My vit d level was a 3 /3 mos ago. I have been taking 50,000 iu of vit d every other day and still
    Dont feel any better.. Please advise. I have lupus as
    Well and my hair is falling out more and mOre! Mybpain
    Is so severe ! I was very excited when my dr found my vit d result and
    Said that after a month or so I should feel better but I feel the same. I am tired of being sick and tired!!

  19. I have had weak bones since I was in my 20’s and am bow 58 and in alot of pain. I have a pain pump inplant and get morphine from that and oxycodone for breakthrough pain. I also take 2000 units of vitamin D. i had 80% of my stumach removed from ulcers when I was 30. I have an obsorption problem and want to ask if that can cause me to not obsorbe medication right ?

  20. sorry for mis spell hope you all do well good health soon.

  21. some of you should be tested for lyme and co infection especialy if your feverish and parathyroid should be looked up to because vitiam D and calcium sometimes go hand and hand good health to all soon. those of you with multiple varying symptoms lyme and coinfection should be a must good luck.

  22. I was informed today that they could find any vitamin D in my body.. I couldn’t even register on the blood work.. I am now taking 50,000 units of vitamin D 3x a week.. In 2 months I go back..I cant explain my pan.. Many have and can totally relate.. I just hope this helps..

  23. When I read the above comments I’m so deeply troubled by all our Drs and the lack of knowledge. I stumbled onto Vitamin D3 drops quite by accident. It took me 1 1/2 years of horrible indescrible pain of my throat/head/neck/ear/cheek/shoulders.

    In July 2009 I developed unknown excruiciating pain which radiated up my head and all over my upper body. I went to 3 primary Drs in vain and they kept giving me Flonase for allergies. I told them I don’t have allergies. They all replied “keep taking the Flonase you have allergies”. The last one told me after I begged her to help me as I couldn’t take the pain anymore and keep my life going, she said, “…like I said, keep taking the Flonase and if the pain is not gone in two months then there is nothing more we can do for you.” I’m not kidding. That is what I was told.

    My sister being a ER nurse told me to get to an allergy specialist asap. I did. In two minutes he diagnoised me with LPR/silent acid reflux/burning throat. He ran tons of tests. Among those tests he did every allergy known to man. I had none! Livid is the best I can describe how I felt by being put through so many months of torture to find out I was burning to death inside my esophogus. Little did I know the long and dibiliating next two years I would spend.

    The treatment after that didn’t help me at all. I went through strong antibiotics for H-Pylori. All the while getting worse. Went through all the GI and ENT tests and 6 months from the onset of the excruciating pain I was put on the strongest PPIs they could give me. 6 weeks later I developed pnuemonia. My GI came in, my blood pressure was 180/130+. I was so sick and couldn’t breath. He said 3 things, “PPIs give 30% of patients pnuemonia who take them, they aren’t working for you, so we have to send you to surgery but first we are sending you for a PH study.” What excruciating pain I was in. I knew I was in trouble but Drs have no time to explain what you have or to connect the dots.

    I went to fundoplication surgery in May 2010 and came out of surgery 10x times worse. As I laid in bed and watched my life slip away in unbearable head/neck/throat/ear pain I knew I was in serious condition. I crawled and checked myself into the ER room and they asssigned my a pyschatrist because I told them I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I was falling apart from excruicting pain. Because they couldn’t solve my problem they assumed it was stress related. All I could do was tell the psy Dr that I was a very happy person that I couldn’t take the throat pain anymore. By now it was Oct 2010.

    I had retirement right after surgery and moved to a new region in the state I live. The new Drs didn’t believe in LPR and didn’t know what to do for me. They put me on Carafate which did nothing for me. I began to research the logistics of what was wrong with me and began to understand that my upper and lower esophogeal spinchters where not working. No Dr ever explained that to me. I put myself on probiotics and got a 30% relief. But a burn is a burn and my throat was burned to a crisp by now.

    The new GI sent me to the new ENT for a scope and he confirmed I was totally burned to crisp in my throat. Basically LPR is vapors/gas/droplets of stomach acid hitting the tender 1 layer throat/nerve tissues of the thraot. The ENT insisted on doing a biopsy of my thraot in Feb 2011. I can not explain how hard it was going through all of this in severe unbearable pain, not able to eat and ashamed of not being able to get better.

    And I got no sympathy from anyone but my sister. It was devastating. I crawled through my days and don’t know how I survived. I thought my life was over.

    In August 2011 all my Drs concluded there was nothing more they could do for me. My HMO won’t send me to an outside Dr for a second opinion.

    So I came home in August 2011 and was so angry about how unconcerned my Drs were about my condition and that they said I had to learn to live with the pain of a searing throat, that I went on the computer and typed in, “what strengthens muscles” as I knew my esphogeal spinchters where muscles after all my research.

    Up popped a couple of articles on Vitamin D. I thought I have nothing to lose. I researched day and night everything on Vit D and decided to take Vit D3 drops. I got a test in Aug 2011 on my Vit D level. It was 25…I stopped and it hit me that from April to Aug 2011 had been the first time in 40 years and that I had been in the sun. I had a hunch that my Vit D level must have been musch lower prior to April 2011. Things started to click in my mind…I had avoided the sun for 40 years…since my early twenties and I lived all my life above the 37th latitude.

    I started Vit D and within 2 days felt slow and progressive relief. I have been on Vit D now for 9 months, and although I still have LPR, all the pain is gone and I feel whispers of reflux but at least I have my quality of life back. I am so digusted with how little our Drs know about basic health needs of the body. I’m now my own Dr. I’ve read so much on Vit D. Personally I’m trying to get to a score of 65 and its not that easy to do. In Oct 2011 I was a score of 44, in Feb 2012 I was a score of 45. I could tell my LPR was slipping back. It was the dead of winter.

    I’ve learned that the amount of D you take should be determined by the color of your skin, your weight and the latitude you live in and of course you D levels. Based on my research the recommended amounts are way to low for good health especially if you live at or above the 37th latitude. Even if you spend all day in the sun its not strong enough to get your levels over 50…or more ideal to a score of 65.

    Don’t walk, run to get a Vit D level test and get your score over 50 if its not there! And at the very least take two Vit D level tests per year, one in Aug and one in Feb of each year. Try to look up Dr. Gominak’s opinions and the Vitamin D Council of San Luis Obispo. Get all your family and friends tested. It’s the best gift you could ever ask them to do for themselves. Hope my experience helps someone.

  24. HMichaud says:

    If you have problems or see no results with the pill form of Vitamin D, talk to your Dr about the shot or the liquid drops that go under your tongue. My body doesn’t obsorb the D pills, so I was doing the shots that were too expensive. So now I do the drops under the tongue that do get it directly into my body. My Vitamin D was in the single digits (4) among other health issues. This is helping with this issue.

  25. What Form of D are you folks taking? Try D3 from the Health Food Store along with some Vitamin K2 to help it absorb. Try getting some Sun!

  26. I went for years hurting all over my body…I was diagnosed with fibromalgia. This new doctor that i am seeing checked my vitamin D levels and mine was a 5 out of 80 which is very dangerous. I am taking 2000 mg a week of vitamin D plus oyster shell prescription and being checked every 6 weeks..

  27. hi ,,,i just come to know my body is defficient in vitamin d3 which is 8.9ng/ml.i dont know what to do???

  28. Hi my name is Joe I recently seen my Dr and my levels of vitamin D was that 18 distance in 2016 and 2014 my levels were at 14 + 18 is very low my doctor put me on 5000 IU once in the morning and one at night also I just want to know how long it takes to build your vitamin D levels back up problems I’ve been having is a lot of popping in my joints in my back I feel like a rice crispy treat LOL my muscles twitch and jerk I just started taking them about 6 days ago I try to be patient but I’m kind of impatient person I guess anyone would be if they don’t feel good plus I have really bad brain fog I didn’t realize how important vitamin D levels were I’ve probably been like this for a very long time I basically lost all my teeth now I have gallbladder problems I have stones I don’t know or think that low vitamin D would have an effect on the liver or gallbladder but I’m no doctor so I don’t know don’t please get back to me and let me know I’m not taking my vitamin D religiously every morning and night plus I take a multi-vitamin magnesium also calcium I’ve noticed that I am able to sleep a little bit better my anxiety level has come down a little bit but not that much yet I guess it’s still early thank you very much Yours Truly Joe

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