Winter's Wonder Pill
Are you getting enough Vitamin D this season?
Are you getting enough vitamin D? Michael Holick, M.D., author of The Vitamin D Solution, estimates that up to 50 percent of Americans are at risk for a deficiency of this vital, versatile vitamin.
We know that D helps our bodies absorb calcium—essential for strong bones and teeth. Research suggests it also promotes skin healing and blood flow, helps control diabetes and helps alleviate seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual symptoms and mood swings, and may even lower one’s odds of cancer. The vitamin is also thought to improve immune-system function, decreasing your risk of catching a cold or the flu.
The U.S. Government recently raised the recommended daily allowance of D from 200–400 international units (IUs) to 600—and some experts suggest higher amounts. Holy Name Medical Center cardiologist Marian Van Dyck-Acquah, M.D., for example, thinks adults should get 800 IUs daily—from diet, sensible sun exposure and supplements.
Traditional warning signs of a D deficiency, says Dr. Van Dyck-Acquah, include frequent falls or fractures and evidence of osteoporosis on a bone scan. “But now a slew of what we call ‘extra-skeletal’ complications may be associated with Vitamin D insufficiency,” adds the doctor. “For example, large multi-center trials are under way to evaluate a possible link between low D levels and adverse cardiovascular outcomes like valve disease. There may also be a link to depression and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.”
Experts agree that fall and winter, with their limited daylight, call for extra vigilance about D.
WHAT TO DO:
Be sure to get a few minutes of sun exposure each day.
Eat D-rich foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), fortified dairy products and cereals, egg yolks and cod liver oil.
And for many people, a multivitamin or supplement may also be necessary to reach the recommended daily amount. Check with your doctor.
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