Vitamin D. We’re all aware that it’s in fortified milk and sunshine, as well as supplements. Beyond that, most of us likely don’t think about it much. This could prove to be an unhealthy and easily avoided mistake.
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the maintenance of many of our body’s organs. The common and often discussed issue with vitamin D deficiencies is bone health. However, it also has a very important role in regulating the thyroid and parathyroid glands, as well as impacting our immune system and inflammation.
An estimated one billion people worldwide have insufficient vitamin D. Of the studies done in the elderly, post-menopausal women, and adolescents, half of the U.S. population has inadequate levels of this important vitamin. A multivitamin, daily milk intake, and weekly salmon did not prevent vitamin D deficiency. And despite prenatal vitamins, seventy-three percent of pregnant women were found to be vitamin D deficient, and eighty percent of newborns were deficient in one study; a second study, in which ninety percent of participants took prenatal vitamins, showed that half of pregnant women and neonates were insufficient or deficient.
Not convinced yet? Note that extremely low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased risk of death when associated with cardiovascular disease. Mounting research shows that the vitamin indirectly helps rid the body of toxins, such as mercury, and may be involved with memory formation, processing, and complex planning.
Most people already know that in utero and during childhood, vitamin D deficiency can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities and may increase the risk of hip fracture later in life. What isn’t as well known is that vitamin D plays a role in fetal lung development and maturation, with subsequent reduction in wheezing illness in children who have sufficient vitamin D found in yet another study. Vitamin D deficiency at time of delivery quadrupled the risk of Caesarian section.
On the upside, in Finnish children given adequate amounts of vitamin D3 the first year of life, and followed for thirty-one years, had reduced risk of type 1 diabetes.
Additionally, optimal vitamin D levels are important in cancer prevention and cancer progression; it plays a part in estrogen-related cancers, as well as many others, including prostate, colon, breast, leukemia, and skin. Its immune system bolstering help minimize colds and flu; inflammation reduction effects help reduce many chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Further, vitamin D will reduce dermatologic conditions, such as psoriasis, and help prevent osteoporosis.
On board? Good. This may lead you to wondering, how can I get vitamin D in my life, and how much is the right amount per day?