A breakthrough study has found a simple and powerful weapon to prevent one of our nation’s most serious health threats.
More than a third of Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome. It’s also known as syndrome X. It’s a condition characterized by five risk factors that often lead to a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes.1
The risk factors are:
- Abdominal obesity
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- High triglycerides
- Low levels of HDL, or good cholesterol
If you have any three of these symptoms, you likely have metabolic syndrome. It means you have up to a fourfold increased risk of heart disease…and up to 30 times greater diabetes risk. As you might expect, your predicted life expectancy goes down dramatically if you have this condition.2
The standard advice from doctors has been that patients with metabolic syndrome should go on a diet to lose weight. But this is rarely successful.3
Now, a new study may offer a better weapon.
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center divided mice into two groups. One got a high-fat diet with a vitamin D supplement. The other group was put on a high-fat diet deficient in vitamin D.4
At the end of the 18 weeks, scientists examined the animals for evidence of metabolic syndrome.
They found that the mice fed a vitamin D-deficient diet were far more likely to have metabolic syndrome than those getting vitamin D supplements.5
Professor Stephen Pandol is director of basic and translational pancreas research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He is lead author of the study.
“Based on this study, we believe that keeping vitamin D levels high, either through sun exposure, diet or supplementation, is beneficial for prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome,” he said.
Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic
Other research has found that three-quarters of Americans are vitamin D deficient. This may put them at higher risk for metabolic syndrome, according to Professor Pandol.6
Have your doctor give you a 25 (OH) D test for vitamin D levels. You want your reading to be between 40-60 ng/mL.7
If it’s lower, the best way to raise your levels is with sunlight. Try to get at least 20 minutes of sunlight a day with your arms and legs exposed.
This is not always easy, especially in the winter. Plus, as we age, our bodies gradually lose the capacity to produce vitamin D from sunlight. You can compensate by eating foods high in the vitamin. They include wild-caught salmon and other oily fish such as sardines, herring, and mackerel.
A good way to ensure you have enough vitamin D is to take a quality supplement. We recommend you take 5,000 IU a day.