Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because we get much of our Vitamin D from the sun. Over the last two decades, studies have found that the level of Vitamin D has dropped dramatically in Americans; this is probably because we have been told to stay out of the sun or use sunscreen.
Vitamin D has become a very hot topic in medicine now as we are discovering very high levels of Vitamin D deficiency in our population, not only in the U.S., but worldwide.
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and helps form and maintain strong bones. Extreme Vitamin D deficiency causes deformities in children and weak bones in adults.
Doctors rarely see these conditions. But studies have linked Vitamin D deficiency to a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, several types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and some autoimmune disorders. Low levels of Vitamin D are even associated with high blood pressure.
There is new enthusiasm with Vitamin D studies showing that it does boost the immune system and fight off viral infections such as flu and at the same time tempers the immune system from overworking, which can create more mucus and fluids in the lungs, causing further problems such as pneumonia.
Vitamin D signals the intestines to absorb calcium. With low levels of Vitamin D, the body will break down bones to get the calcium it needs. Without enough Vitamin D, the body cannot absorb enough calcium to satisfy the body’s need, no matter how much calcium you consume in food supplements.
Increasing Vitamin D can help prevent non-vertebra fractures and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Since there aren’t that many foods sufficiently rich in Vitamin D, the sun is then the best source for getting Vitamin D. To get just the minimal RDA required 400 IU per day – you would have to drink 1 quart of milk or eat 5 ounces of salmon or a 6 ounces of tuna.
The Institute of Medicine, which advises the U.S. government on health, is expected to update its recommended amount of Vitamin D. It currently recommends 200 to 600 units of Vitamin D daily. But many experts recommend adults take 1,000 to 2,000 units a day, an amount only possible to get though supplements.
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