What You May Not Know About Vitamin D

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There have been an astonishing number of articles about vitamin D in the past few months.  Nearly all of the media relates two facts: that vitamin D has important health benefits, and that many of us don’t get enough of it.

Our bodies create vitamin D as the result of exposure to sunlight.  Vitamin D is also found in fish, dairy, and egg yolk.  It is vital for the formation of strong bones, muscles, and a healthy immune system.  People who live in northern climates, with less sun exposure, may need to take vitamin D supplements (don’t go over the recommended dosage of 1,000 IU/ day, though, as too much vitamin D can be dangerous). 

In addition to these well-established functions of vitamin D, current research has found that vitamin D may even be a factor for conditions such as back pain and breast cancer in women.  A study of senior women found that those with lower levels of vitamin D had higher rates of back pain.  In a separate study, women with breast cancer who had lower levels of vitamin D were more likely to die of their cancer or have their cancer spread.

Sufficient Vitamin D seems especially important for babies and children.  Babies who do not receive enough vitamin D in the womb are more likely to be born with soft skulls.  Another group of researchers found that infants who were given vitamin D supplementation were less likely to develop type I diabetes.  Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency appears to be common in children in the United States. 

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