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How’s Your Vitamin D?

Apr. 25, 2013|714 views
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Vitamin D is a nutrient most of us can’t get enough of. Literally. Studies consistently show that too many Americans have levels that are deficient or insufficient. We used to believe it was important for bone health, and little else. But newer research shows that vitamin D does far more than just regulate the calcium in our bones. Investigations have revealed tantalizing evidence that vitamin D is important for virtually every aspect of health. In fact, it sometimes seems as if scientists and public policy makers are struggling to keep up with the tsunami of new research on this critical substance.


Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin, but a hormone, and it’s indisputably vital to many aspects of health. It’s a key regulator of the immune system, for instance. It also plays a role in the regulation of mood and other brain functions. Now, scientists have reported that it even decreases a woman’s risk of developing fibroids. I’ll talk more about that tomorrow.


We can get some vitamin D from foods such as fortified dairy products. But vitamin D is so important, our bodies were created with the ability to make it through the action of sunlight striking bare skin. This ability hints at its importance. Unfortunately, too few of us are making enough these days. We simply don’t get enough sun exposure.


Goodness knows, we’ve all been told countless times to never venture out into the sun without coating our bodies in sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. As a result of this and other factors (far fewer of us work outdoors; many of us are fatter now, which essentially raises the need for vitamin D; dark-skinned people need proportionally more sun exposure to generate adequate vitamin D), too many people are deficient in this incredibly important hormone. While I don’t recommend risking skin cancer, I do recommend vitamin D supplementation.


Broussard DL. Public health in pharmacy: Improving vitamin D status in the U.S. population. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2013 Mar 1;53(2):206-9. doi: 10.1331/JAPhA.2013.12106.

Garrett-Mayer E, Wagner CL, Hollis BW, Kindy MS, Gattoni-Celli S. Vitamin D3 supplementation (4000 IU/d for 1 y) eliminates differences in circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D between African American and white men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;96(2):332-6. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.034256. Epub 2012 Jul 3.


Milaneschi Y, Hoogendijk W, Lips P, Heijboer AC, Schoevers R, van Hemert AM, et al. The association between low vitamin D and depressive disorders. Mol Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 9. doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.36. [Epub ahead of print]

Pludowski P, Holick MF, Pilz S, Wagner CL, Hollis BW, Grant WB, et al. Vitamin D effects on musculoskeletal health, immunity, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fertility, pregnancy, dementia and mortality-A review of recent evidence. Autoimmun Rev. 2013 Mar 28. pii: S1568-9972(13)00040-2. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2013.02.004. [Epub ahead of print]

Wang L, Manson JE, Song Y, Sesso HD. Systematic review: Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in prevention of cardiovascular events. Systematic review: Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in prevention of cardiovascular events. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Mar 2;152(5):315-23. doi: 10.1059/0003-4819-152-5-201003020-00010. 

NOTE: This article was first posted on 04/25/13  It has since been edited, certain phrases and or words have been removed

Tags:  health tips, prevention, vitamin d