Vitamin D in the News Common Vitamin May Have Uncommon Uses

Vitamin D has been associated with bone health and most people are aware that we need both calcium and vitamin D to keep our bones strong. But new studies indicate that this seemingly common vitamin may have a big impact on your overall health.

 

Bone Health and Vitality

Although osteoporosis is usually considered a function of calcium deficiency, lack of vitamin D also increases the risk because it reduces calcium absorption. Supplementing with the vitamin helps maintain bone strength and preserve an active lifestyle. Supporting healthy bones and muscles is imperative in older adults to prevent falls and injuries, which thereby increase the risk of mental decline.

New research is exploring the role of vitamin D in the human brain. Several of the key areas used for memory and cognition appear to have vitamin D receptors. These are the same areas affected by age-related neural disorders. One study linked an increase in nerve growth to the vitamin. More research is clearly needed to examine the cognitive uses of vitamin D. www.mayoclinic.com

 

"D" for Diabetes

Insulin production in the pancreas can be impaired by vitamin D deficiency, which leads many scientists to link deficiency to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Further research will be needed to confirm these findings, but studies have already linked higher intakes of both calcium and vitamin D to lower diabetes rates. One study suggests the right combination of these nutrients may lower the risk of diabetes in women by as much as 33% compared to lower intakes.

 

Heart Disease

Research done by the American Heart Association has shown a relationship between vitamin D intake and reduced risk of death by heart disease.  

The risk of heart disease is higher in people with deficiencies in Vitamin D, particularly those with high blood pressure. New research indicates that those with a deficiency run twice the risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, or other heart disease than individuals with higher levels of the vitamin.

There is evidence to suggest that calcification in the arteries may be related lower blood levels of vitamin D. Other studies show that vitamin D may lower blood pressure, and may increase blood levels of anti-inflammatory substances. It has been studied for its effect in the heart's pumping ability and cell structure.

 

Eye Health Protection

Vitamin D has been shown to help promote eye health and may exert preventative measures against age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Researchers speculate this may be due to the vitamin's anti-inflammatory effect or its ability to affect blood vessel growth in the eye. The benefits were detected in both early and later stages of AMD, which can lead to blindness.

 

Vitamin D May Reduce Risk of Cancer

Lately there's been a lot of talk about vitamin D and its relationship to lower cancer rates. Many scientists feel that public health recommendations should be increased as an economical tool to help decrease cancer rates.

An analysis of years of research associated higher intakes of calcium and vitamin D with lower incidences of breast cancer in premenopausal women. Higher vitamin D intake was also linked to a lower risk of both colon and ovarian cancers.

Another large study comparing cancer rates and levels of Vitamin D noted a connection between lower instances of colon cancer and higher levels of the vitamin. Researchers found a 72-percent decrease in deaths by colon cancer and a potential reduction in breast cancer deaths in people with higher levels of Vitamin D. Longer studies are needed to determine if other cancers are affected in the same way.

The vitamin appears to help decrease the cellular stress that leads to cancer. By inducing a specific gene to increase expression of a key enzyme, vitamin D protects healthy prostate cells from the damage and injuries that can lead to cancer, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers report.

These findings suggest that most people could benefit from a higher intake of this essential nutrient. Researchers believe that daily doses of 1,000 IU could offer many health benefits.

 

Overall Wellness

Low levels of vitamin D increase the risk of weakening many parts of the body, including bones and muscles, immune function, and the cardiovascular system. Many scientists recommend a minimum intake of 800 IU per day. Higher doses may be linked to additional benefits, with no negative effects established for doses of up to 10,000 IU. 

Vitamin D may also have an affect on lifespan. One study found that women with higher levels of the vitamin in their bodies also had longer telomeres (the portion of chromosomes that shorten with age). Many scientists agree that the RDA for vitamin D is too low. http://www.nutraingredients.com

 

Sources of Vitamin D

Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to the UV rays in sunshine, so the intake varies greatly. It is not easy to find a good food source of this essential vitamin, as few foods are natural providers of the nutrient. Fatty fish, such as wild salmon, contain comparatively high levels of Vitamin D, as well as the healthy omega-3 fats reported to have numerous additional health benefits.

Wild salmon is also full of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, and makes a sensible addition to everyone's diet. Farmed salmon contains lower amounts of Vitamin D, according to recent reports, so we continue to recommend wild salmon. An excellent source of reliable and sustainable salmon is Vital Choice.

In addition to dietary intake, Ray & Terry suggest supplementing with D3 to maintain an optimal level of the vitamin.