Thursday, January 26, 2012

Top 3 Health Benefits of Vitamin D

With Winter in full force, most of us are spending less time outdoors and are therefore receiving less natural vitamin D from the sun. And Winter is probably the season when we can benefit from vitamin D the most. During colder months, natural sunshine can be replaced with vitamin D supplements and/or eating foods rich in vitamin D. Here are just three of the many health benefits of vitamin D.

Immune Support
Vitamin D triggers and arms the body's T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. An article on Care2 states:
Numerous immune compounds depend on vitamin D, including PCL-gamma1, a molecule that activates immune cells so they’re capable of fighting infections. In addition, lung cells are among those that secrete 1a-hydroxylase, an enzyme that converts inactive vitamin D to its active form, helping fight respiratory infections. The vitamin D then turns on genes involved in immunity and boosts levels of cathelicidin, a powerful germ-fighting compound.
Strengthens Bones and Muscles
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption. Taking a calcium supplement alone is not enough for normal bone formation and strengthening. Vitamin D also plays a role in normal muscle production. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to weakened muscles, loss of range of motion and physical frailty. After analyzing 20 studies, which included more than 44,000 patients, Bischoff-Ferrari wrote in Osteoporosis International that 1,800 to 4,000 IU of vitamin D could greatly reduce the risk of falls in seniors.

Lower Risk of Cancer
Researchers from around the world have linked low vitamin D levels to to a higher risk of breast, ovarian, kidney, pancreatic and aggressive prostate cancer. Taking a vitamin D supplement, eating foods rich in vitamin D and/or spending time in the sunshine has been proven to lower your risk of developing these types of cancer. Research performed at the University of California determined that the incidence of colon cancer in the United States and Canada could be cut in half if people took 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily, and that women would reduce the incidence of breast cancer by half if they took 3,500 IU of vitamin D daily.


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