Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Avoid Vitamin D Deficiency

Get Outside and Walk
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Although Vitamin D is one of the easiest vitamins to obtain, it is shocking that many people are deficient in it.  As a result, we are seeing a return of diseases that should be easy to avoid.  As we age, Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to a number of serious health issues.

Approximately half the people in the world are experiencing a Vitamin D deficiency, according to the, in an article dated 9/21/11.  With so much known about the importance of Vitamin D in maintaining good health, how can this be?

Vitamin D from Sunshine

Vitamin D is known as the Sunshine Vitamin because our bodies are able to make this vitamin when our skin is exposed to a few minutes of bright sunlight every day.  However, as we get older, it is not uncommon for people to spend more time indoors and avoid the hot mid-day sun.  When we do need to be outside, we often take great care to cover all our exposed skin with a thick layer of sunscreen.  After all, dermatologists and other physicians have been telling us for years that we need to keep our skin out of the sun in order to avoid skin cancer.  As a result, our skin is rarely, if ever, exposed to the bright sunlight that we need in order to make our own Vitamin D.

How much sunshine is necessary?  I have read that our bodies can create an adequate amount of Vitamin D if we expose at least our faces and forearms to the mid-day sun for about 20 minutes every other day. This is considered a healthy amount of sunlight by many medical personnel.  However, this is only true if you live in a mild climate, preferably in the southern half of the United States.  If you live in the north, the winter sun is not bright enough to produce the Vitamin D you need.  In addition, it may be too cold in some areas to expose our skin to the outdoor air for 20 minutes.

Illnesses Caused by Vitamin D Deficiency

What are some of the illnesses that can develop if we do not get enough Vitamin D?  We are hearing about more and more new diseases every day that may be related to Vitamin D deficiency.  Here are a few that are either caused directly by a deficiency, or are suspected to have a relationship to a deficiency, as reported in Wikipedia and WebMD: 

Rickets -- characterized by a softening and weakening of the bones and dental deformities.
Osteomalacia -- bone-thinning and muscle weakness
Osteoporosis -- reduced bone density; this is a very common disease as we age
Fasciculations -- muscle twitching
Colon Cancer -- taking 1000 IU daily reduces this cancer by 50%
Breast and Ovarian Cancer -- taking 1000 IU daily reduces these cancers by 30%
Pancreatic Cancer -- taking 400 IU daily reduces this cancer by 43%

In addition, I saw a recent article that linked low Vitamin D levels to Fibromyalgia.

How to Avoid a Vitamin D Deficiency

What should you do?  Ideally, for optimal health, we should all take the time to get some sun on our skin as often as possible ... as long as we do not exceed 20 minutes in a day.  After that, we can slather on the sunscreen.  In addition, to be certain that you are getting enough Vitamin D, you may want to supplement your diet with at least 400 IU of the vitamin every day.  It would be sad to reach this stage of our lives, and let ourselves become ill because we were being so careful to keep our skin out of the sun, wouldn't it?

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