Sunday, July 12, 2009

Vitamin D: The Wonder Vitamin?

This fat-soluble “sunshine vitamin” has recently re-emerged as the wonder vitamin with numerous research studies coming out monthly on its health benefits.

Until very recently, it was thought that the RDA for Vitamin D (400 IU/day) was sufficient to prevent disease and to maintain bone health. We have recently seen an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency in this country, which is thought to be responsible for many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis, cancers and even cardiovascular disease.

What are the recent findings on Vitamin D?

In January 2009 researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Michigan Peninsula Medical School revealed that compared to those with optimum Vitamin D levels, those with the lowest levels were more than twice as likely to be cognitively impaired – i.e. have dementia

In February 2009 the Archives of Internal Medicine studied 19,000 adults and adolescents. People with the lowest average levels of Vitamin D were 40% more likely to have a recent respiratory infection compared to those with higher Vitamin D levels

In March 2009 the Journal of Nutrition published research showing that high intakes of both calcium and Vitamin D helped protect against diabetes. C-peptide (a measure that determines if diabetes is in the works) was 20% lower in those with higher blood levels of Vitamin D

In April 2009 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published research showing that a daily supplement of 83 mcg. of Vitamin D per day (or 3320 IU) significantly boosted heart health by lowering triglyceride levels (storage form of fat) and markers of inflammation in the blood that indicate heart disease

In June 2009 the National Institutes of Health funded a study that showed that higher blood levels of Vitamin D were linked to increased loss of abdominal fat

Benefits of vitamin D are more important than we all knew – lowering risk of heart disease, respiratory infections, dementia, and diabetes and helping with weight loss!

A great way to get your vitamin D, besides food, is exposure to daylight or sunshine three times per week for about 10-15 minutes, since your skin has the ability to manufacture it after being exposed to sunlight. Since many of us try to stay out of sun due to skin cancer, we are deficient in natural vitamin D. However, it is still important to wear your sunscreen.

Some researchers are now calling Vitamin D the antibiotic vitamin since it boosts protection in the white blood cells of antimicrobial compounds that defends the body against germs. Many physicians are recommending intakes of 1000-2000 IU of Vitamin D per day to help with already low tissue levels and increasing the tissue levels to help prevent disease.

Next time you visit your physician ask to have your Vitamin D levels checked to know if you are in need of supplementation – it could save you more than just a cold!

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