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Needed - Vitamin D
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When I went in for my annual physical my doctor ordered a vitamin D test along with my usual blood work. I’d never had my vitamin D level checked, so I was surprised when the test showed that I was deficient. In the past few years, doctors have become more aware of the risks of not getting enough vitamin D, as well as the benefits of having an adequate amount.[1] If you have bone pain or muscle weakness, you may have a vitamin D deficiency. But for many people, like me, your symptoms may be subtle or non-existent.

You’re at risk for vitamin D deficiency if you haven’t consumed adequate amounts in your diet over time, if you limit your sun exposure or always use sunblock lotion (which inhibits D’s production), if you have dark skin, if your kidneys can’t convert vitamin D to it’s active form, if your digestive tract doesn’t adequately process vitamin D, or if you’re obese.

Although vitamin D is essential for strong bones because it aids in calcium absorption, research is showing that vitamin D is necessary to protect your body from quite a few health problems as well. A deficiency can be associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, cancer, and even depression.

On the other hand, having adequate vitamin D has its benefits. Research suggests that proper amounts can play a role in both the prevention and treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, and multiple sclerosis.

Supplement or Sun

The treatment for vitamin D deficiency is an easy one. Simply get more vitamin D. It can be obtained through diet, supplements recommended by your doctor, and/or spending more time in the sun. And with summer being here, the last option seems like the easiest fix. Research shows that exposing some part of your skin for just 15 to 30 minutes a few days a week (minus the sunscreen) is adequate. However, some doctors don’t recommend sun exposure due to the risk that the same UV rays can also cause skin cancer.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has established the daily required intake for vitamin D as follows:

--Children and men and women up to age 50 require 5 micrograms (mcg) or 200 international units (IU)
--Men and women ages 51 through 70 require 10 mcg or 400 IU
--Both men and women after age 70 require 15 mcg or 600 IU

Since the risks for vitamin D deficiency are so great, why not get tested for some peace of mind? If you are deficient, ask your doctor to suggest the best way for you to get your body to a healthy level. You may be surprised, over time, just how much better you feel both physically and emotionally.

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By Nancy Canwell. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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