10 May Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin
What do the winter blues, autoimmune diseases, breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and asthma have in common? Researchers believe Vitamin D deficiency may be influential in all of these prevalent ailments.
The importance of Vitamin D in calcium metabolism, bone and dental health (preventing rickets, osteoporosis, and periodontal disease) is well established in the medical literature.
Emerging research points to the vital role Vitamin D plays in proper regulation of our immune system, brain function, insulin secretion, blood pressure regulation, inflammatory responses, and cancer cell growth. Adequate intake of this sunny nutrient may help prevent autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis reports Alberto Ascherio, M.D., of the Harvard School of Public Health. (http://220.127.116.11/seaton/pdfs/27/Ascherio_2010.pdf)
One study from Georgetown University Medical Center associated Vitamin D therapy with a 50 percent reduction in breast tumors in the study group and a 75 percent reduction in tumor growth for women already battling the disease. (http://www.naturalnews.com/032222_breast_cancer_vitamin_D.html)
Today’s lifestyles of long indoor work-a-days, less outdoor playtime, and sun protection for reducing the risk of skin cancer have limited our natural sources of Vitamin D. UVB rays from the sun induce healthy vitamin D production in the skin. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2665033/figure/F1/)
We also receive dietary Vitamin D from oily fish like salmon and mackerel, and from fortified dairy foods. Adults and children need a minimum of 600 IU of dietary Vitamin D a day, and those who live in northern climates or spend much time indoors may require even more to maintain optimal health.
Ideas for naturally maintaining healthy Vitamin D levels:
• Choose time to play in the great outdoors!
• Take a sunbath at sunrise or sunset. Exposing the skin to sun away from intense midday rays allows Vitamin D creation while reducing the risk of harmful sunburns.
• Include warmed milk in the diet (heating milk makes it more easily digestible for those with low digestive fire (low agni in Ayurveda).
• For those eating meat: consider including organically raised salmon in the diet. (also a great source of Omega 3 for promoting heart health!)