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Could Vitamin D Keep You Healthy?

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By Amy Koch July 12, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Vitamin D, or cholecalciferol, is often called the “sunshine vitamin,” however, it’s actually a fat-soluble hormone that the body can synthesize naturally.  Vitamin D synthesis starts when the sun’s ultraviolet rays strike the skin.  It then undergoes activation in the liver and kidneys.  Interestingly, most adults in the United States are deficient in Vitamin D, which can lead to many health complications. 

So why is Vitamin D so important? It has long been recognized for playing a key role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth; however, Vitamin D affects our health in many other important ways. 

For example, studies have shown that vitamin D may reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis, heart disease and the flu. It may even help people with cancer. Cancer patients who have higher levels of vitamin D when diagnosed tend to live longer and remain in remission longer than patients who are deficient, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 

Studies have also shown that vitamin D may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Adults who were moderately deficient in vitamin D had a 53 percent increased risk of developing dementia, and those who were severely deficient had a 125 percent increased risk of the disease compared to individuals with healthy levels, as reported in a study in the journal of Neurology.   

In another aspect of brain health, people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than those with higher levels, according to a study in the British Journal of Psychiatry that included more than 31,000 participants. 

The health benefits don’t stop there. Research has shown Vitamin D reduces the risk of developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  In certain cases, vitamin D supplements may also help improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. 

So, the big question is: How do you know if you are getting enough vitamin D? Levels can be checked by testing 25(OH)D in blood work.  Average reference ranges for Vitamin D levels fall between 20-100ng/ml.  Recent reports have suggested a higher optimal range for Vitamin D levels.  New research suggests a minimum level of 30ng/ml for deficiency and between 40-60 ng/ml for sufficiency. 

For most people, Vitamin D supplementation is necessary to correct deficiencies. Vitamin D is also found in a few foods such as salmon, sardines, and egg yolks; as well as in foods fortified with the vitamin, including milk and orange juice.  

Posted in: The Res-Q Blog
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