It’s becoming well known that we need vitamin D (actually a hormone) so the body can absorb calcium for healthy bones, but scientists are finding it may also help prevent numerous chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, autoimmunity, and cancer. I try supplementing with 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. Below are some of the latest reasons why you need some more D.
• Aging: Research suggests people over the age of 60 make only one-third of the amount of vitamin D from sun exposure as they did in their 20s. Low levels of vitamin D have also been associated with poor cognitive performance in seniors, and one recent study found that adequate amounts of the vitamin were linked to a marker indicating significantly lower levels of inflammation and body stress, factors that can slow aging. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2007).
• Osteoarthritis: Research suggests osteoarthritis tends to progress faster in people who are vitamin D deficient. A shortage of vitamin D may also decrease quality of life. A study presented at a recent meeting of the American College of Rheumatology found that a deficiency increased pain and disability in knee osteoarthritis sufferers.
• Diabetes: Both insulin resistance and insulin secretion have been linked with low stores of vitamin D. A recent 17-year follow-up of more than 4,000 men and women found that adults with the highest levels of the vitamin had a 40 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest levels (Diabetes Care, October 2007) And previous research has suggested that giving children supplemental vitamin D significantly reduces their risk of type 1 diabetes.
• Cancer: It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of cancer cases worldwide could be prevented each year if people raised their vitamin D levels, especially in colder climates where rates of breast, prostate, colon, and ovarian cancers are higher and D levels tend to be lower. And lab experiments show the vitamin sops cancer cells from growing and spreading.
• Infections: Boosting vitamin D may be an effective way of warding off cold and flu. It may stimulate immunity by activating peptides in the body that attack bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
• For more, see vitamindcouncil.com.