Go to Health! – Vitamin D
Vitamin D, formed on the skin with sun exposure, is a fat soluble vitamin essential for maintaining many body systems, including (but not limited to) calcium metabolism and bone strength. All the cells in our bodies have receptors for Vitamin D, so we know it has many effects.t
*Osteoporotic fractures - Women who take calcium and vitamin D supplements have been shown to have a lower risk of fractures, in the hip and other areas.
*Muscle strength -Vitamin D is also helpful in promoting muscle strength and decreasing muscle pain. Recent studies show a possible help of D in decreasing falls in the elderly.
*Heart disease - Low level of D is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, and high blood pressure.
*Cancer - results of some, but not all, human studies suggest that D may protect against certain cancers, including colorectal cancer. D regulates proteins responsible for cell division. Some epidemiologic studies show that women with breast cancer have lower vitamin D levels than matched controls.
* Autoimmune disease Adequate vitamin D levels may decrease the risk of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
* Memory loss with aging Recent research shows that older adults with low Vitamin D levels may be at higher risk for cognitive impairment,
*Respiratory infections people of all ages with low levels are more at risk for colds and other respiratory infections, including tuberculosis.
*Seasonal affective disorder (winter blues) and depression Studies are beginning on the use of Vitamin D for SAD, which may be more effective than light therapy.
As Vitamin D plays such an important role in human health, it is a good idea to have your health care provider order a test for a blood level of 25 hydroxy vitamin D. A level above 30 ng/ml is desirable, and 50 ng/ml is considered optimum. To achieve this level without high sun exposure, which can carry risks of skin cancer and skin aging, most adults in our area need to supplement with 1000 IU daily. Some doctors are advising more than this. We form very little Vitamin D on our skin between October and March at this latitude. People with darker skin absorb Vitamin D from the sun more slowly, and may need higher levels of supplementation.
Submitted by Sadja Greenwood, MD, as part of a new series- stay tuned for probiotics, B12, fish oil, the cost of methamphetamine, a new drug to treat addiction, and more.