The Benefits of Vitamin D for Disease Prevention

With all the media coverage about the dangers of getting too much sun many are actually being deprived of the essential nutrient vitamin D, which can only be obtained from exposure to sunlight. Most people work indoors and many others fear cancer due to sun exposure without sunscreen. Just these two things alone can make it difficult to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D.

A few minutes a day of sunlight is sufficient to receive the necessary amount of vitamin D, however, this small amount is not enough exposure to the sun to cause adverse effects. Using sunscreen can block up to 95% of your body’s vitamin D production.

The most important function of vitamin D is to control how much calcium our bodies absorbs from the foods we consume. Our bodies use calcium to build strong teeth and bones and to strengthen our nerves and muscles. Vitamin D maintains a sufficient amount of calcium in the blood and strengthens the immune system which may be a contributing factor in reducing the risk of contracting cancer, especially colon cancer.

A small amount of vitamin D is naturally found in a limited number of foods, such as nuts, eggs, and fish, and it is a common additive in milk and orange juice. This is known as vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol. It is the form of vitamin D that is used for most vitamin D supplements.

As scientists and doctors learn more about vitamin D, research is showing the mineral may be helpful in treating a variety of ailments.

Treating Psoriasis with Vitamin D

Although there is no proven cure for psoriasis, recent research shows that supplements with vitamin D-3 may provide relief from many inflammatory ailments, include psoriasis, dermatitis, dandruff, eczema, rosacea and severe acne.

In Israel, a study of the treatment for psoriasis has shown that natural sunlight provided significant improvement in the symptoms, likely because the body manufactures vitamin D from exposure to the sun. An Israeli company is manufacturing a vitamin D creme to help psorias sufferers. “The company’s ointment is based on vitamin D and B, and it contains no steroids (Blackburn).” In studies this formula was shown to be safe and to perform well against psoriasis.

The Link Between Vitamin D and Heart Disease

The Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah reports, “Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute last fall demonstrated the link between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk for coronary artery disease.” Based on their study, “Increasing vitamin D intake by 1000 to 5000 international units (IU) a day may be appropriate, depending on a patientís health and genetic risk, says Dr. Muhlestein. He says supplements are the best source of vitamin D because they are relatively inexpensive and can be found at almost any supermarket or drug store. Most supplements provide an average of 400 IU per tablet (Gomez).”

Scientists now believe that vitamin D supplements may be able to prevent or lessen the impact of other diseases, including diabetes, epilepsy, depression and hypertension.

The use of sunscreen is still a personal choice, however doctors are now recommending that those who wear sunscreen also use a vitamin D supplement. Search vitamin and health stores or on the Internet for the best quality of vitamin D and other vitamin supplements. If you are under the care of a physician, you should check with your doctor before starting any new health regime.

References for more information about the benefits of Vitamin D: 1) Blackburn, Nancy, “Psoriasis sufferers to get relief – without steroids – from Israeli ointment,” Israel 21c Innovation News Service, October 28, 2007. Retrieved on April 4, 2010. 2) Gomez, Jess, “Treating Vitamin D Deficiency Can Significantly Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease,” Intermountain Medical Center, March 17, 2010. Retrieved on April 3, 2010.

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