What do the winter blues, autoimmune diseases, breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma have in common? Researchers believe Vitamin D deficiency may be influential in all of these prevalent ailments.
The importance of Vitamin D in calcium metabolism, bone and dental health (preventing rickets, osteoporosis, and periodontal disease) is well established in the medical literature.
Emerging research points to the vital role Vitamin D plays in proper regulation of our immune system, brain function, insulin secretion, blood pressure regulation, inflammatory responses, and cancer cell growth. Adequate intake of this sunny nutrient may help prevent autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis reports Alberto Ascherio, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health. ( click for reference link)
One study from Georgetown University Medical Center associated Vitamin D therapy with a 50 percent reduction in breast tumors in the study group and a 75 percent reduction in tumor growth for women already battling the disease. (click for reference link)
Today’s lifestyles of long indoor work-a-days, less outdoor playtime, and sun protection for reducing the risk of skin cancer have limited our natural sources of Vitamin D. UVB rays from the sun induce healthy vitamin D production in the skin, however may also be linked with the development of sun damage and several forms of skin cancer. (click for reference link)
We also receive dietary Vitamin D from eggs, mushrooms, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, and from foods which have been fortified, like some nut milks, juices, dairy foods, and cereals.
Adults and children need a minimum of 600 IU of dietary Vitamin D a day, and those who live in northern climates or spend much time indoors may require even more to maintain optimal health. Check in with your family physician to see if it makes sense to check your own vitamin D levels, and discuss the optimal level of Vitamin D for your personal health goals and needs. (click for reference link)
Ideas for naturally maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels:
• Choose time to play in the great outdoors!
• Take a sunbath at sunrise or sunset. Exposing the skin to sun away from intense midday rays allows Vitamin D creation while reducing the risk of harmful sunburns.
• Look for fortified plant based foods or consider adding a Vitamin D supplement to your routine. Consider a discussion with your family physician regarding your optimal levels, and check those levels if you add a supplement to assure you are at ideal, and not supra-therapeutic levels.
• For those eating meat: consider including wild caught salmon in the diet. Also a great source of Omega 3 for promoting heart health! (Care should be taken with sourcing fish, which may contain heavy metal and PCB contamination which could be harmful.)
Written by: Ann Collins, MD, RYT