Chances are, you are deficient in one of the most critical vitamins that your body needs: Vitamin D. Experts think that a huge percentage of the population is deficient in this important vitamin, with some healthcare providers reporting that 85% or more of their patients are lacking in it.
Why the widespread deficiency?
It probably has to do with lack of sun exposure. This is not surprising. For years we have been rightly warned about the dangers of skin cancer from exposure to the sun. So we cover up, put on sun screen and stay indoors. The problem is that the best source of Vitamin D comes from the reaction of sun hitting our skin. When we reduce sun exposure, we reduce our Vitamin D levels.
In the Northeast, where people are exposed to less sun, there is higher degree of Vitamin D deficiency than in the South. And lighter skinned people have higher levels than do African-Americans. Researchers think this is due to the fact that lighter skin absorbs the sun more efficiently than darker skin.
Why do we need Vitamin D?
Scientists are discovering that Vitamin D affects many organs and systems in our bodies. There are vitamin D receptors in many of our organs, such as our brain, heart and immune system. The presence of receptors in these organs means that these organs need certain levels of this vitamin in order to function optimally. Vitamin D is also involved in the buildup and destruction of tissue at the cellular level—crucial processes that impact how healthy you are.
Inadequate levels of Vitamin D are linked to osteoporosis, insulin resistance, various cancers, depression, heart disease and auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
How much do we need?
The best measure of Vitamin D in the blood is a measure of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and ideally this number should be above 30 nanograms per milliliter. There are two efficient ways of achieving this optimal level of Vitamin D in the blood:
1. Sun exposure. During the summer, exposing the skin to sunlight for five to ten minutes, two or three times a week will help to raise Vitamin D levels. But be sure to cover your face during this time.
2. Supplemental Vitamin D. During the rest of the year or during summer as well if you do not like get out into the sun, taking Vitamin D supplement will raise your levels. Most adults should take 1,000 to 2,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 per day.
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