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The Wonder Vitamin!

January 26, 2010

 

I'm not one to believe in a magic pill. I don't believe there is any one supplement out there that will cure all of your ailments. And I surely don't believe that health can be found solely by taking a supplement. But I have found something that seems to come very close. I'm referring to Vitamin D and let me tell you, the research is exciting and extremely promising.

 

Vitamin D plays a major role in regulating the genes in your body. Of our 30,000 genes, Vitamin D has been shown to influence somewhere around 2000 of them. These are genes that play a role in everything from cancer to heart disease. In fact many health experts believe that the use of Vitamin D to prevent cancer and heart disease will save us billions of dollars annually on health care costs. Vitamin D also enhances and supports the immune system cells. Low levels of Vitamin D are linked to an inability of the immune system to rid the body of viral and bacterial diseases. So instead of costly vaccine development each year for the flu virus (which may or may not be helpful), maybe we need to make sure we all have enough Vitamin D to make it through the winter. Just a thought.

 

Vitamin D is vital to healthy bones. It supports the proper use of calcium by making sure the calcium ends up on the bones, in nerves, and in muscle cells where it belongs. It prevents calcium build up in our arteries and tissues. Anyone with concern about bone health should first consider Vitamin D, then worry about calcium.

 

Our body creates Vitamin D. It does this through exposure to the sun. Its estimated that we make somewhere around 20,000 IU of Vitamin D from 20 minutes or so of unblocked, unfiltered sun exposure. So why are we all likely low in Vitamin D? The answer here involves a few factors. First it is pretty obvious that we don't spend as much time outdoors as we should. Most of us work indoors, workout in gyms, and ride around in cars. During the colder months this is even more pronounced. Even in the summer we have a hard time though since we slather sunscreen on ourselves before we go into the sun. This may be helpful to prevent sunburns, but also blocks the beneficial rays of the sun that make Vitamin D. A bit of balance is needed here. Another reason we don't make enough Vitamin D is simply because of where we live on the planet. During the months of November through April, the sun isn't high enough in the sky to generate the correct wavelengths of light for us to make Vitamin D. This is seen above and below the tropics. Around the equator this isn't an issue, but here in Colorado and the US, it is.

 

So what can you do to make sure you have enough Vitamin D? The easiest way is to go outside without sunscreen during the warmer months. Obviously don't stay out too long and get a sunburn, but be out long enough to allow yourself to make enough Vitamin D. 15 to 20 minutes daily should do it. From a supplement stand point, I first recommend taking Cod Liver Oil everyday. This will make sure that you have at least a small amount daily. For many people however, Cod Liver Oil doesn't seem to be enough and they need additional Vitamin D. The correct form of Vitamin D to take is Vitamin D3, also called "cholecalciferol." This form is much better and more utilizable than Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Dosage of Vitamin D supplementation depends of age. Here are some general suggestions. They are only suggestions. Remember the only way to know "for sure" is to have blood tests done to measure Vitamin D levels.

 

  • Children up to 5: 35 IU daily

  • 5 - 10 years old: 2500 IU daily

  • 10 - 18: 3000 IU daily

  • 18-30: 5000 IU daily

  • 30 and up 5000 IU daily

I really think that many of our chronic diseases are connected to low levels of Vitamin D. The research is clear and points to this conclusion. From bone health and heart disease, to the immune system and cancer our genes need Vitamin D. What is great about this is that we can do something about it very easily. Enjoy the sunshine and during the fall and winter make sure to take a Vitamin D supplement. It really is that simple. A miracle supplement? Not likely, but is sure is important. So there you have it. Doctor's orders...Go outside and play!

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