Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Studies Show Vitamin D More Important to Our Health Than Previously Thought!
Photo by Joe Shiabotnik
The list of health benefits of Vitamin D continues to grow as more and more scientific studies are completed.
The impact of Vitamin D on the bone health of the elderly has been well documented. A lack of vitamin D can cause the bones to become thin, brittle, or even misshapen.
Brittle bone disease affects many in our senior citizen population, especially women. Brittle bones can lead to broken bones and are a leading cause of falls and injuries suffered by the elderly. New studies show that older people have a significantly reduced fall rate if they have been taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis.
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Researchers are now discovering that Vitamin D has an effect on the health of young people as well! In a recent study, David Suskin of the Department of Pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital said, "The two most common deficiencies seen in children who are growing normally are iron and vitamin D deficiencies. These deficiencies are surprisingly common and can have a significant impact on the overall health of a child."
New research indicates that vitamin D may reduce the risk of breast cancer. Higher levels of vitamin D may affect steroid hormones which could lead to a reduction in breast cancer in young women.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a water soluble vitamin that can be obtained by exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is therefore referred to as the "sunshine vitamin". You can also obtain your daily required dose of Vitamin D from the foods you eat (fish, eggs, fortified milk) or from vitamin D supplements. The two major forms of this vitamin are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is derived from plant sources and vitamin D3 comes from animals. Vitamin D3 is generally considered the better of the two.
Vitamin D Deficiency
There is a growing body of evidence that point to the health consequences of a vitamin D deficiency. The Center on Aging and Mobility at the University of Zurich said, "Strong evidence indicates that many or most adults in the United States and Europe would benefit from vitamin D supplements with respect to fracture and fall prevention, and possibly other public health targets, such as cardiovascular health, diabetes and cancer."
Supporting this view is a recent study conducted at the University of Wisconsin which concluded; "Low vitamin D levels are associated with increased overall and cardiovascular mortality, cancer incidence and mortality, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis." Vitamin D may have therapeutic potential in other areas of the body as well.
People who live in the more northern regions of the world may not be able to get enough sunlight during the day to satisfy their body's needs for vitamin D. Recent research indicates that people who live in more sunny climates may also suffer from a vitamin D deficiency.
Low levels of vitamin D may contribute to the following health conditions:
- All-cause dementia
- Alzheimer disease
- Stroke (with and without dementia symptoms)
- Cerebrovascular disease
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Health Benefits of Vitamin D
Current vitamin D research studies indicate some other possible health benefits of vitamin D:
- Cardiovascular health
- Breast Cancer
Vitamin D Dosage
As more evidence of the health benefits of vitamin D comes to light the recommended dosage has been increased by doctors. According to the study conducted by the University of Zurich the recommend dosage of vitamin D supplementation for the elderly "...should be at least 700-1000IU per day and taken with good adherence to cover the needs for both fall and fracture prevention."
Doctors on the Vitamin D Council predict that the new recommended dosage of Vitamin D will be 1,000 IU daily for healthy individuals.
Researchers at St Luke's Episcopal Hospital, Center for Orthopedic Research and Education, Houston, TX, indicated that for those who are vitamin D deficient, "treatment with 50,000 IU of vitamin D(2) for several weeks is a very inexpensive and safe yet effective treatment to replete vitamin D status."
Vitamin D Side Effects
Negative side effects of Vitamin D can occur after high levels of use over an extended period of time.
It is recommended that anyone taking the drug Digoxin or any other medication to regulate their heart beat consult with their doctor before taking vitamin D supplements.
Some of the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity are nervousness, irritability, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and sudden weight loss. Other signs of vitamin D toxicity are dehydration, and increased thirst and headaches. In advanced cases sufferers may experience the need to urinate more frequently and even develope kidney stones.
Vitamin D Research
There is a large volume of evidence supporting the health benefits of vitamin D. In addition to the personal experiences of many vitamin D users there is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the claim that vitamin D benefits the body in specific ways. Although there is not any conclusive scientific evidence of the health benefits of vitamin D there have been a number of promising research studies completed.
Many of these studies have shown positive results. The researchers almost invariably comment in their reports that additional research needs to be done. We concur with this conclusion. We welcome additional research on vitamin D, other natural health supplements as well.
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