Vitamin D - Building More than Bones

April 26, 2012

We all know that vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health by allowing the body to absorb calcium and protecting against bone fractures.  Recently researchers found that among 889 adult patients treated for a bone fracture at one trauma center, levels of vitamin D were insufficient in seventy-eight percent of the patients, low levels can also cause rickets in children and fragile, misshapen bones in adults. Recent research indicates that vitamin D has even more far-reaching effects on our health and deserves a lot more credit for our overall health than we've been giving it! This research suggests that raising levels of vitamin D may protect against many chronic or life-threatening diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. Studies have also shown that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease; vitamin D deficiency been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, and weight gain! Additionally, the Vitamin D Council, a research-based group promoting vitamin D deficiency awareness, proposes that vitamin D can assist in treatment or prevention of autism, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, heart disease, high bloodpressure, flu, neuromuscular diseases, and osteoporosis. That is a pretty impressive list! Vitamin D is a fat-soluble essential nutrient that naturally enters the body primarily through the skin when ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight stimulates production of previtamin D. Previtamin D is converted to the biologically active form of vitamin D in the kidneys. Unfortunately, different factors are causing a rise in people with vitamin D deficiencies:
  • Consumption of vitamin D fortified milk has decreased.
  • Vitamin D is stored in body fat. An increase in obesity reduces the level of vitamin D in blood serum.
  • The consequences of sun exposure has increased the use of protective clothing and  the use of sunscreen on exposed skin. A good thing ... but sunscreen may reduce previtamin D production in skin by more than ninety percent.
Three great tips for filling your vitamin D needs are:
  • Get some sunlight into your life in order to be healthy and prevent or even reverse major chronic diseases. A 15-minute walk each day, or just a few minutes if you're in sun-bathing apparel is plenty!
  • Boost your antioxidant count, because antioxidants will protect you from the risk of overexposure to sunlight.
  • Add vitamin D to your diet! Good sources include vitamin D-fortified dairy and juice products, fatty cold-water fish like salmon, mackerel, bluefish, anchovies, sardines and tuna, as well as cod liver oil.
Vitamin D - an important factor when building a healthy regimen!

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