Vitamin D has suddenly shot to the top of the vitamin totem pole. Outshining even the energy-boosting B’s, vitamin D has now been found to hold some of the greatest potential for lowering your chance of getting a host of chronic conditions, and even cancer.
It’s not really a vitamin. “Vitamin D is actually a hormone,” says Michael Vaughn, MD, with MedHelp in Birmingham. “Because it affects every cell in the body.” But a deficiency doesn’t generate any obvious symptoms in adults, so you need a blood test to tell.
Most everyone’s deficient. “It’s amazing how many people are low in vitamin D,” says Dr. Vaughn. “It’s almost everyone…100% of my black patients and probably 80% of my white patients have a vitamin D deficiency,” says Dr. Vaughn. “Blacks have a much higher rate, because it takes five times longer to make vitamin D through their skin.”
Where do you get it? Vitamin D3 is naturally produced through the skin from sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). “But with most of us working and playing indoors or wearing sunscreen, few of us get enough exposure,” says Dr. Vaughn. “Most of my patients initially test somewhere in the 20s or 30s.” The minimum recommended level is 50 ng/mL.
What about milk? Milk has vitamin D added, but adults would need to drink 20 one-cup servings a day to get the government-recommended 2,000 IU.
It does a body real good. Besides high blood pressure, studies have found connections between vitamin D deficiency and diabetes, fibro myalgia, bone density, obesity, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. “One study found a 50% decrease in breast cancer in women with vitamin D levels of 47 ng/mL or more,” says Dr. Vaughn. “Another study found that women who supplemented their vitamin D showed a reduction of 77% of all cancers over three years.”
Take a supplement. Look for a vitamin D3 supplement, not D2. For healthy adults, the Vitamin D Council currently recommends 5,000 IU a day. But experts are considering doubling that dosage.
Why wait? “There are so many different things that vitamin D may affect, why would you wait to take a supplement,” says Dr. Vaughn. “It’s just wise to take vitamin D every day, period.”
by Jane Ehrhardt
This article written and brought to you by BirminghamDoctors.com.