According to ScienceDaily(1) Americans have low vitamin D levels. That means we are susceptible to other illnesses including breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. The link between vitamin D and dementia risk is confirmed. D maintains muscle strength helping reduce falls in the elderly. It can reduce your risk of multiple sclerosis which has no cure. It can reduce metabolic syndrome and risk of diabetes. Vitamin D also regulates genes that relate to cancer development and can provide powerful protection against common cancers. If you live in the northern part of the U.S., your are at higher risk during the winter months without sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency can affect other areas of your body as well. Here are six reasons to get you D levels checked(2).
1. Brain Function: Studies have found that low vitamin D can cause memory and attention difficulties. Many think that mental changes are due to hormonal loss during and after menopause, but it could be your vitamin D level.
2. Weight Gain: This is female specific; when postmenopausal women took 400 IU of vitamin D and 1,000 mg of calcium daily, they gained less weight and increased their bone integrity.
3. Heart Function: If you are a woman over 50, studies show low levels of Vitamin D can put you in danger of having a heart attack, stroke, or congestive heart failure.
4. Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s is a disorder of the brain that manifests itself as shaking, stiffness, and poor muscular coordination. This disorder mainly develops in people over 50 and increases with age. Low levels of Vitamin D increases the threat of Parkinson’s disease, while high levels may protect against the devastating illness.
5. Bones Integrity: Studies of bone structure show that Vitamin D deficiency will increase the start and spread of bone fractures. Women are more like to be effected because your bones tend to become brittle and more prone to break.
6. Depression: A study with severely depressed middle age women who were given oral vitamin D supplements revealed a positive response from all participants. We are not sure if this is the cause of the depression, but we know you can feel better as a result.
Life Extension Magazine has confirmed a number of vitamin D benefits similar to the above. They noted that weight loss and reduced inflammation occurred together. It increases survival rates for breast cancer and lymphoma patients. It is associated with less coronary artery disease and premature risk of mortality. It improved cognitive test scores and reduces risk of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease. It can protect against uterine fibroids in women and can prevent infections after surgery. So, its importance cannot be under-estimated.
How to increase our vitamin D?
1. Improve your diet: fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are a good source of Vitamin D as well as beef liver, cheese, egg yolks. Foods fortified with D are dairy products, orange juice, some cereals and milk.
2. Supplements: Although studies have shown that 600-800 IU of Vitamin D per day is safe, always check with your doctor before starting a Vitamin D supplements. Some feel this is not the best way because of the poor absorption rate of vitamins.
3. Sunshine: The article suggests that it’s better if we get at least 15 minutes of sun a day before we apply sunscreen.
I have to admit that I have been taking vitamin D3 at 5,000 IU for a few years now. I originally started after reading some convincing research. It’s difficult to fell the physical change, except for just maintaining good health. If you’re not sure if you need vitamin D, just get your levels checked. L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com