Vitamin D is linked to a remarkable number of health issues. Studies have shown that a lack of the vitamin may help to cause heart disease, birth defects, skin cancer (read the article Can Vitamin D Prevent Cancer?), depression, multiple sclerosis, and pregnancy problems.
As much as three-quarters of Americans are likely to be deficient in vitamin D. Why are the numbers so high? After all, vitamin D is one of the few vitamins our bodies can actually make. Sunlight converts a cholesterol-like substance naturally found in your skin into vitamin D. The problem is that you would need to get 15 minutes of direct midday sun on your body every day. For most us, for atleast six months of the year, the sun is too indirect to allow vitamin D to be synthesized. Basically, if you live north of Atlanta, it’s impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight between October and March. It’s also tougher for people of color to make vitamin D, as the melanin in dark skin decreases production by up to 90%. Vitamin D supplements may be the only the way to boost your intake.
A recent clinical trial weighed in on the whole vitamin D subject recently. Researchers noted that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for approximately 100 conditions and diseases. They conducted a search of all studies that showed how vitamin-D concentration affects disease incidence and mortality rates.
Their findings for breast and colorectal cancer, respiratory infections, and all-cause mortality rates indicate that benefits increase as serum vitamin-D concentrations increase.
The main sources of vitamin D that can help people reach adequate levels are UV-B irradiance (sunlight) and vitamin-D(3) supplements. If you opt for sun exposure as your main source of vitamin D, be aware that, in general, studies find melanoma risk is low, while risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is higher. Such cancers, the researchers say, are seldom fatal (but they still can be, so make sure you put your sunblock on after your initial 15 minutes in the sun).
The important thing to remember is to keep your vitamin-D levels up in whatever way you can. Many reports suggest that patients report a dramatic improvement in their feeling of overall well-being after they increase their vitamin-D levels. A number of nutritional and medical experts have urged the government to raise its recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults from 200 international units (IU) to at least 1,000 IU.