Vitamin D: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Vitamin D: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Vitamin D is an elusive systemic requirement. The body does not produce it on its own without natural sunlight and it can only be found minimally in certain foods.

It used to be easy to get enough vitamin D but as our sun has become more dangerous to our skin many people cover up with sunblock, sunglasses and clothes decreasing absorption.

In addition, vegan diets, people of color, pollution levels, cloud cover and even the angle of the sun can all effect vitamin D assimilation. As a result, vitamin D deficiency is estimated to be at  near epidemic proportions with an approximate of 70% of American adults and children presenting low levels.

The elderly are also at risk given that they spend less time in the sun, do not have the ability to absorb the sun like they did in younger years, eat less of a varied diet and may have weaker kidneys unable to convert vitamin D. It is estimated that 40% of the elderly, even if they live in a sunny climate, have vitamin D deficiency.

An Important Vitamin

Vitamin D is essential for proper bone health as it regulates calcium and phosphorous blood levels. It takes about six days of casual, unblocked sun exposed hands, feet, arms, legs and face to make up for 49 days of non-exposure. Vitamin D is stored in your fat deposits and released when the body is out of the sun.

Deficiency Dangers

Vitamin D deficiency could result in easily fractured or broken bones; bone pain; osteoporosis; diabetes; multiple sclerosis; obesity; rickets (which may lead to bone deformities, however this is a rare condition) and even some cancers.

Warning Signs

A simple blood test can determine if you are vitamin D deficient. However, there are also several warning signs that may make you think about getting that blood test.

Some signs of a deficiency include:

Asthma – In a study conducted by researchers at Augusto A. Litonjua, Channing Laboratory and Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, it was concluded that, Of relevance to asthma, vitamin D has effects on the immune system and on lung development and function. Preliminary epidemiologic studies hint at a possible role of vitamin D in asthma development and in decreasing exacerbations.”

Depression – Researchers at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, St Joseph’s Hospital, Canada in a study of vitamin D deficiency and depression concluded that, “Our analyses are consistent with the hypothesis that low vitamin D concentration is associated with depression”

Heart disease – An article published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research reports that cardiovascular disease is much more common in people deficient in vitamin D. (Natural News)

Multiple sclerosis – Lack of sun exposure, especially in those living far from the equator, has been linked to MS cases. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that, “The findings of our study indicate that identifying and correcting vitamin D insufficiency should become part of the standard of care for newly diagnosed MS patients.”

Cancer – Several different kinds of cancer have been linked to D deficiencies, including breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer. The causal link is so strong, in fact, that the Mayo Clinic lists separate recommended dosing levels of the vitamin for both cancer prevention and prostate cancer treatment. (Natural News)

Other deficiency signs include periodontal disease, diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and high blood pressure.

Dosage

This is where it can get tricky. Several studies recommend varying dosages of vitamin D supplementation.

Although many swear by 400, 800, 1000 to 2000 IU’s (international units) of supplementation, others have reported that more may not be better.

In a report by John’s Hopkin’s medicine aptly titled, ‘More May Not be Better’ it was stated that,

“…most healthy people are unlikely to find that supplementation prevents cardiovascular diseases or extends their lives, and there is no consensus among doctors on what is the right level of vitamin D in the blood for healthy people.”

 

Before supplementing with vitamin D it is best to talk to your doctor about the proper dosage for your particular body type, health history and blood presentation.

In the meantime, without overdoing it and also after consulting with your doctor, spend more time in the sun. Also, try to include D fortified milk, orange juice or other fortified products into your diet as well as vitamin D rich foods such as: salmon, tuna, sole, flounder, eggs, mushrooms, beef liver and ricotta cheese.



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