Vitamin D and Disease
Credit: Paul Zizka / Getty Images

Boosting your vitamin D levels can significantly decrease your risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. That’s the conclusion, at least, of two new large-scale studies, published in the journal BMJ, that analyzed data on levels of the "sunshine vitamin" in millions of people. 

In one study, people with low D levels had a 35 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease and a 14 percent greater risk of dying from cancer. The same study also found that supplementing with D3 – but not other kinds of the vitamin, such as D2 – can help reduce the risk of mortality from any cause by a remarkable 11 percent.

RELATED: The Truth About Magnesium, the Missing Mineral

Still, scientists claim more research is needed before they fully recommend supplements, saying the best way to bump up your D levels is to get more sun, which produces the nutrient. "It certainly seems that time of the year is a much stronger predictor of blood levels of vitamin D than diet or supplementation," says study co-author Dr. Francesca Crowe, a nutritional epidemiologist at the University of Bristol in the U.K, noting that few foods, including eggs, fish, and organ meats, contain the nutrient. "The level of vitamin D in foods is unlikely to have a sizeable effect on blood levels of vitamin D."