Vitamin D has become a popular topic in the last few years, with more studies and articles about it appearing in the media every week. The available information consistently shows us there are even more benefits from Vitamin D than previously known.
We use the term “vitamin” in reference to Vitamin D, which in reality acts more like a hormone than a vitamin in the body. It is essential in the regulation of calcium metabolism, helping our bones to become and stay strong. Since Americans have one of the globe’s highest rates of osteoporosis, it is in our best interest to prevent the disease by taking adequate amounts of Vitamin D.
Research shows that Vitamin D also helps to treat and prevent allergies, asthma, depression, diabetes, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune conditions, cancer and heart disease. The list only increases as more research results become available.
A biochemist at University of California Riverside states that more than half of the world’s population is Vitamin D deficient. It is not surprising that the rates of conditions such as asthma and allergies continue to climb as more of our population has depressed Vitamin D levels.
How do we get Vitamin D?
One way is to expose our skin to direct sunlight every day without sunscreen. Sunburns, particularly severe ones, increase the risk for developing skin cancer later in life. So getting enough sunshine to produce Vitamin D without having our skin cells damaged by ultraviolet rays can be a real balancing act. For most people, 20 minutes is a good length of time. For those of you with a history of skin cancer or melanoma, talk with your doctor about risks and benefits before spending time in the sun without sunblock.
Other ways to get Vitamin D include dietary intake and supplementation. Cod liver oil contains the highest amount, followed by salmon and mackerel. Egg yolks, sardines and beef liver contain small amounts of the vitamin, as do foods fortified with it, including milk, orange juice, yogurt and cereal. The average cereal, for example, contains approximately 40 IU per serving. Milk, about 100 IU. Cod liver oil supplies 900 or more IU per tablespoon.
Vitamin D is added to many multi-vitamins or can be taken as an individual supplement. Fat-soluble, it is best absorbed when taken with a meal.
The amount you need depends on how much time you spend in the sun, where you live, the time of year, your ethnicity, and your family history. While your level is likely to be deficient, it is possible to get too much.
We are here to help you.
If you are concerned about your Vitamin D level, consult with one of our doctors. A simple blood test specific to Vitamin D will determine your status.