Vitamin D: How Much Is Enough?



Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D—also known as the sunshine vitamin because our bodies naturally
produce it after exposure to the sun—is essential for calcium absorption, strong bones, and other aspects of health. Observational studies have found that adequate levels of vitamin D correlate with less likelihood of high blood pressure; atherosclerosis; type 1 and type 2 diabetes; and colon, prostate, and breast cancers.

Vitamin D also plays a role in healthy immune function, mood, energy production, pain prevention and relief, and the ability to heal from injury. In addition to osteoporosis, deficiencies can contribute to heart and lung problems, neurological diseases, and autoimmune conditions.

Unfortunately, in these days of skin cancer concerns and SPF 40 sunblocks, it isn’t always easy to maintain optimum levels of vitamin D. That’s where supplements come in, and they can make a big difference. Looking for direct effects of supplementation, Canadian researchers examined 13 earlier, well-designed studies where people age 60 or older were given daily vitamin D and tested for balance and muscle strength. They concluded that consistently taking 800 to 1,000 IU (20 to 25 mcg) of vitamin D daily improved both balance and strength in older people, which can enrich daily life and prevent falls.


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