Sunday, September 6, 2009
Vitamin D Is Essential
Vitamin D is essential for a number of functions in the body. It is essential for bone health, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, cognitive function and even pain control. Despite numerous studies that show low levels of Vitamin D are detrimental to overall health, deficiency seems to be pandemic. Before the last few years, physicians didn't even measure Vitamin D levels in the blood. We assumed if you got a bit of sunshine and weren't an elderly shut in, you were good.
Vitamin D comes in two forms, Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is formed in the skin after exposure to Ultraviolet B radiation and from animal sources such as some fish. Vitamin D2 comes from plants (that have been exposed to sunlight) and foods are fortified with Vitamin D like milk, cheese, bread and juice.
Vitamin D goes through a complicated synthesis within the body to make a biologically active form. There are Vitamin D receptors in the intestine, prostate, colon and breast and most tissue and cells in the body. Vitamin D is one of the most potent regulators of cell growth in both normal and cancer cells.
I could go on and on but this should be just a "taste" of the importance of Vitamin D in maintaining health. Keep in mind that laboratory measurements of Vitamin D are not perfect, but if you aim for a goal of 35-40ng/ml, the Vitamin D status should be good.
Vitamin D deficiency can be treated with supplements that are relatively cheap to purchase. For healthy people, 1000-2000IU/day should bring low levels up to a normal range. For people who have severe deficiency (malabsorption, healing fractures, osteoporosis), larger doses may be necessary.
Ask your doctor to screen for Vitamin D. We continue to evolve with our medical knowledge and the importance of Vitamin D is new information.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:48 AM