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Why Vitamin D is Crucial for Overall Health

Published June 26, 2015

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Research supporting vitamin D continues to mount, and we have no choice but to recognize its cruciality for health. Mandatory fortification of food with vitamin D is beginning to see some serious discussion in Europe, a reflection of the current mood surrounding the nutrient. With healthcare costs rising worldwide, could incorporating such a necessary (and inexpensive) nutrient be helpful? Many experts believe so, but it comes down to the quality of the fortification that will make sense and will provide the most benefit.

Vitamin D Deficiency is More Concerning Than You Think

An estimated 75% of people have insufficient levels of serum vitamin D, and this number is probably far more than generous. [1] Vitamin D is responsible for over a hundred biological processes, including regulating immune system status, modulating proper blood sugar, supporting memory and overall mental health, keeping metabolism in check, and much more. It’s clear that a vitamin D deficiency is contributing to the spiraling costs of medications, possible preventative medical procedures, and various therapies. Europe is slowly but surely coming around to the idea of using fortification programs to help fight vitamin D deficiency. The question is: are health officials going to use the appropriate form of vitamin D?

Finland adopted a vitamin D fortification program in 2003-2004 that expanded on fortified dairy products. Most developed countries have vitamin D added to milk, but some countries, like Finland and Sweden, are fortifying oils, packaged foods, and beverages. The issue with nutrient fortification programs is the quality of the nutrient used. For most dairy products, vitamin D3–the quality of which may be questionable–is used. D3 is the form that actually has a beneficial effect on serum levels, whereas vitamin D2 is lower quality synthetic and not as useful. [2] Some dairy-free milk alternatives only include D2, offering no real benefit.

Your Best Bet for Vitamin D

One of the simplest interventions you can take right now in your own health is simply stepping outside. The sun supports all life on this planet, and it’s available–free of charge–for you to take advantage of its rays. While you should certainly take precautions to protect your skin from overexposure to sunlight (particularly the face), getting a few minutes’ worth of sun exposure on as much as your skin as possible can be the best bet for producing vitamin D. Depending on your current vitamin D status, you may have to spend more or less time out in the sun compared to the next person.

For the autumn and winter months, sunlight exposure can be a bit more tricky. That’s when supplementation comes in, but it’s important to choose one that is vegan friendly, as many vitamin D3 supplements are produced from sheep wool. Although some foods do contain vitamin D, such as egg yolks and cod liver oil, it’s not a reliable source for those who are severely deficient. Before supplementing with vitamin D, work with a knowledgeable medical practitioner who can test your levels and guide you toward the correct supplementation pattern.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Adit A. Ginde, MD, MPH; Mark C. Liu, MD; Carlos A. Camargo Jr, MD, DrPH. Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, 1988-2004. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-623. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2008.604.
  2. Lisa A. Houghton and Reinhold Vieth. The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin suppleemnt. Am J Clin Nutr October 2006 vol. 84 no. 4 694-697.

The post Why Vitamin D is Crucial for Overall Health appeared first on Dr. Group's Natural Health & Organic Living Blog.

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