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You Might Be D-ficient

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You could be healthier if you took a vitamin D supplement.

So says new studies citing numerous ways that vitamin D boosts immunity and fights disease. But as much as 70 percent of the nation’s population is deficient.

Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when bright, mid-day sunlight hits our skin for at least 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we spend most of our time indoors. Plus, in northern latitudes such as Cleveland, the low angle of the sun from October to March prevents us from getting vitamin D naturally.

Coincidentally, this five-month period marks the height of cold and flu season. Theories are now being circulated that vitamin D deficiency is a major factor in contracting such illnesses. Being hailed as “nature’s antibiotic,” vitamin D has been found to play a critical role in fighting infection, preventing heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

“Chronic vitamin D deficiency may be a culprit in heart disease, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome,” Sue Penckofer, a professor at the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University in Chicago, said in a university news release. Penckofer co-authored a study that reported vitamin D may prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.

Vitamin D has been found to turn on the genes that fight disease. It plays a crucial role in proper cell function.

It’s very difficult to get adequate amounts of D in your diet and unfortunately, very few foods contain it naturally. Even though you’ll find vitamin D added to milk, orange juice and other grocery items, we still don’t seem to get as much as we need. Studies now show that most multivitamins have too little vitamin D to receive its therapeutic benefits.

For northern populations, “Vitamin D supplementation is the only sure way to keep your blood level in the healthy range,” said John E. Whitcomb, MD, medical director, Aurora Health Care, a nonprofit healthcare system in Wisconsin.

Vitamin D3 is the recommended supplement, as vitamin D2, a synthetic version of D, is less effective. Look for cholecalciferol on the label to make sure that you have Vitamin D3.

Have your vitamin D level checked next time you see your physician. If you’re low, you could need as much as 10,000 units per day for a month to get your levels back in the healthy range. Whitcomb suggests that average adults need 2,000 units each day for maintenance, but that this number may rise as more studies are completed. Vitamin D is now the number one studied vitamin with 140 different laboratories conducting research on it around the world.

The benefits of getting ample vitamin D are many. Here are just a few:
 * Supports bone health, bone growth, and maintenance of bone density
 * Essential for the utilization of calcium
 * Boosts immunity
 * May inhibit the proliferation of mutated cells that lead to diseases such as cancer
 * Helps to reduce blood pressure
 * Reduces risk of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures

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