In less than 15 years, vitamin D has gone from a near-pariah that could harm you if you took more than 400 i.u. per day to a health miracle – now acknowledged even by mainstream doctors – and likely needed by most people in doses of at least 5,000 i.u. – or even more, according to some doctors.

Vitamin D has been proven to lower your chances of getting sick by supporting your immune system, protect your bones against fractures, and help your brain.

And now it’s making headlines again. . .

New discoveries show that this natural substance may help you avoid rheumatoid arthritis, lower your risk of heart failure and even grow stronger muscles.

The crippling effects of rheumatoid arthritis can make your life a constant agony. When you have this condition, your immune system attacks your joints, making them inflamed, swollen and painful.

The best way to deal with rheumatoid arthritis is not to get it. Good luck with that. The cause or causes are unknown. But if you do start to develop it, limiting the inflammation is crucial.

Research at the University of Birmingham in England shows that vitamin D may be able to keep the condition away. This study demonstrates that maintaining your vitamin D status at a healthy level helps prevent this form of arthritis.

Apparently, vitamin D signals the immune system not to make the inflammatory chemicals that pack damaging immune cells into the joints, where they wreak painful havoc.1

Better at Preventing Than Curing

Unfortunately, the researchers have not found a dependable way to use vitamin D to control rheumatoid arthritis once you get it. They found that the destructive immune cells in your joints become insensitive to vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties and may not respond.

So the researchers warn that people suffering rheumatoid arthritis may need to take very high doses of vitamin D to get a benefit. They also say we need more studies on how to get high doses of vitamin D directly into joints for a better shot at calming the destruction that goes on there.

The thing that strikes me here is that mainstream doctors are even talking about administering a vitamin by IV to help solve a health problem.

Improves odds of Surviving Heart Attack

Another important finding, this one at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Australia, demonstrates that vitamin D can shore up the health of your heart after a heart attack and lower the risk that you will get heart failure.2

It does this by keeping the heart from becoming too scarred while preventing excessive thickening of the heart tissue.

According to the researchers, the scarring that often occurs following a heart attack is the result of inflammation. When the scarring impairs the heart’s ability to pump blood, the outcome can be heart failure. But when vitamin D arrives on the scene, it blocks the action of the cells that would otherwise collect in the collagen that makes up scar tissue.

Relief From Intestinal Upsets

Vitamin D has also been shown to be useful for relieving the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that affects up to 45 million Americans. IBS can cause stomach pain and bloating as well as constipation and diarrhea.

A review study performed at the University of Sheffield in England reveals that many people with IBS are deficient in vitamin D. Furthermore, the study found evidence that vitamin D supplements can be a big help in managing and reducing the symptoms.3

“It is evident from the findings that all people with IBS should have their vitamin D levels tested and a large majority of them would benefit from supplements,” according to researcher Bernard Corfe.

Other recent findings about vitamin D include:

  • Strengthens female muscles: Tests in Denmark show that girls with higher vitamin D levels are stronger. But the effect was not found in boys.4
  • Supplements help after open-heart surgery: A study in Utah found that open-heart surgery causes you to be vitamin D deficient. But taking supplements right before the operation and afterward prevents a deficiency.5
  • Large waistlines call for more vitamin D: An investigation in the Netherlands shows that the more belly fat you carry around, the higher your risk for lacking vitamin D.6

It impresses me that every time a new benefit of vitamin D appears in the research literature, another one seems to pop up right behind it. It’s also obvious that if you let your body run short of this vitamin, you’re gambling with your health.