Recent studies from the University of Zurich have confirmed what modern medicine and nutrition has long believed to be true: sufficient amounts of Vitamin D, taken over the course of a lifetime, are necessary for strong and healthy bones and to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis.
However, getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D is not as simple as many people think. While many dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese are often enriched with Vitamin D, fatty fish like salmon remain one of the few natural dietary sources of this vitamin. In order to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from this source alone, approximately two servings of fatty fish would have to be consumed every day. Since very few people would be willing go to these lengths, adequate Vitamin D intake must also be obtained through exposure to sunlight and supplementation. To make the matter more complex, Vitamin D is more easily absorbed in the presence of minerals like calcium (hence its presence in dairy products) and magnesium (commonly found in sources like leafy green vegetables), meaning that supplementation with this vitamin alone is inadequate.
Illnesses Associated with Vitamin D Deficiency
Historically, health care professionals have focused on Vitamin D in regards to the health of teeth and bones and as a prevention against the development of osteoporosis. However, modern research is discovering links between a whole variety of illnesses and Vitamin D deficiency. Below is a discussion of which illnesses are linked to this condition.
1- Chronic kidney disease: Dr. Holick also points out a strong link between chronic kidney disease and Vitamin D deficiency, especially in patients undergoing dialysis. These renal patients must be treated with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 or its analogues to support calcium metabolism, since they are unable to make the active form of Vitamin D. This supplementation helps reduce the risk of bone disease associated with renal failure and also regulates parathyroid hormone levels.
2 – Diabetes: The link between Vitamin D and Type I diabetes is not fully understood. A study recently published in The Lancet was conducted in Finland on 10,366 children who were given 2000 international units (IU’s) of Vitamin D3 on the first day of their life. This children were tracked into early adulthood and it was found that the overall risk of developing Type I Diabetes had been reduced by 80%.
3 – Asthma: Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the severity of asthma attacks in children. A recent Japanese study of school children showed that 1200 IU’s of Vitamin D daily significantly lowered their chances of a severe attack. This research may prove a promising lead in helping to treat this serious respiratory condition.
4- Cardiovascular disease: The link between various forms of heart disease and Vitamin D is only just now being understood. It has been shown that congestive heart failure (and disease particularly prevalent in the elderly) has been associated with this deficiency. Also, recent Harvard University research found that women with low Vitamin D levels had a 67% greater risk for developing high blood pressure, a risk factor for heart attacks.
5- Schizophrenia and depression: Children are at a lower risk for developing these serious mental health conditions later in life if their mothers take sufficient Vitamin D during pregnancy and if they themselves receive adequate levels during childhood. This is believed to be because sufficient amounts satisfy the Vitamin D receptors in the brain which are crucial for brain development and mental function as a child matures.
6 – Cancer: Researchers from the Georgetown Medical Center recently presented a study at the American Association for Cancer Research which showed a connection between high Vitamin D levels and a reduced risk for breast cancer. In this study, increased doses of this Vitamin were linked to a 75% reduction in overall cancer growth and a 50% reduction in tumor cases in cancer patients. It is believed that this supplementation has the capacity to help control the growth and development of tumors, especially in estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.
Talk To Your Doctor
The preceding information may sound disturbing, but the good news is that Vitamin D deficiencies are easy to screen for (a simple blood test from a physician can determine with someone’s levels are adequate) and easy to treat with supplementation and controlled exposure to sunlight. If someone has any of the conditions discussed, talking with a medical professional about screening for Vitamin D deficiency is a very good idea.
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