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Vitamin D – Benefits, Deficiency and Food Sources

 

By Diane Hanson

The sun offers you more than just a tan. It also gives you Vitamin D, an important nutrient which is often overlooked. Emerging research suggests that vitamin D with its widespread health benefits, may be one of the best vitamins of all for your body.

A few years ago, we know Vitamin D as a secondary nutrient that helped our body absorb calcium to prevent brittle bones (osteoporosis) and bone fractures. Recently, researchers have found that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of other diseases as well.

 

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Fall Prevention

As we age, our muscle strength reduces. This can increase the risk of falls and bone fractures. Several studies have found that Vitamin D supplements may improve muscle strength and balance, helping the elderly remain steadier on their feet.

 

 

Cancer Prevention

A large number of studies show that low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of some cancers, including breast, colorectal, prostate, ovary, kidney, lung and uterus cancer. Adequate amounts of Vitamin D can help regulate cellular growth, potentially preventing cells from becoming cancerous.

 

 

Chronic Pain Relief

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions such as arthritis and chronic back pain. An extra dose of this sunshine vitamin may provide pain relief benefits.

 

 

Protection Against Autoimmune Diseases

 

Deficiency in Vitamin D has been widely associated with type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and strengthening the immune system. In one study, researchers found a 40% lower risk of multiple sclerosis in women who supplemented their diet daily with at least 400 IU of vitamin d.

 

 

Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

Some research indicates that vitamin D malnutrition is associated with a number of factors that affect cardiovascular health, including coronary artery calcification and, possibly, congestive heart failure.

 

 

Vitamin D deficiency may also be linked to an increased susceptibility to several chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, periodontal disease, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), cognitive impairment and rickets.

 

 

 

Food Sources of Vitamin D

You can find many Vitamin D fortified foods in your grocery store, including breakfast cereals, bread, margarine, milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. Salmon, herring, tuna and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils are also rich sources of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is also present in other foods like beef liver, egg yolks and mushrooms.

 

So, how much vitamin D is enough? Diet alone may not give you enough Vitamin D. A combination of daily intake in the range of 800 to 1000 IU of vitamin D and exposure to sunlight is likely to benefit most adults.

 

If you live near the tropics, simply by exposing your unprotected skin to 2 sessions of 15 minutes of sunlight weekly, your body will naturally produce adequate amounts of Vit D.

 

If you're unable to get sufficient sun exposure (especially during winter months), you'll definitely benefit from Vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D supplement can be purchased alone or combined with calcium.

 

vitamin d food sources

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