Your body makes vitamin D when sunlight hits your skin. Too much sun, as we all know, is a risk factor for skin cancer. Not enough sun, as not everybody knows, is a risk factor for dangerously low levels of vitamin D.
And what's one of the major results of low vitamin D? Increased risk of skin cancer!
Scientists have long suspected that one of the benefits of vitamin D is fighting cancer. Decades of research now suggest that vitamin D protects against skin cancer and
several other kinds of cancer by promoting "apoptosis."
Vitamin D in effect tells the cancer cell to switch itself off and stop reproducing. It may in some cases even cause cancer cells to revert to normal cells.
And the anti-cancer benefits of vitamin D are just the beginning. Other potential applications of vitamin D include:
* Alzheimer's Disease. Preliminary studies show that vitamin D may increase the rate of cellular repair in the brain 200%.
* Prostate cancer. One of the benefits of vitamin D is a special anti-cancer potency in the prostate.
* Breast cancer. Women who consume 500 IU of vitamin D a day from low-fat dairy products have a greatly reduced risk of developing breast cancer before menopause.
And the major application of vitamin D? Bone health!
You need calcium for healthy bones, but your bones can't absorb calcium without the hormones your body makes with the benefits of vitamin D.
Researchers at Harvard University recently completed a study of 72,337 women over 18 years. They found that women who consumed a high dosage of vitamin D food sources and vitamin D supplements (about 500 IU total) had a greatly lowered risk of broken hips.
The Harvard researchers concluded that neither milk nor calcium is enough to maintain bone health and avoid vitamin D deficiency symptoms, and that taking vitamin D supplements
is a good idea.
No fracture is more likely to lead to death and disability than a broken hip. The benefits of vitamin D definitely help prevent this condition.
And although the vitamin D deficiency symptom osteoporosis is more commonly associated with women than with men, over 5 million men a year in North America alone develop this disease.
Who may need supplemental vitamin D?
The skin's ability to convert vitamin to its active form begins to decline at age 20. Your body's production of vitamin D goes down as soon as you become an adult. By the time you are 65, your body's production of vitamin D with the help of the sun goes down as much as 60%. Improper diet, menopause, and lack of sun also contribute to vitamin D deficiency.
So who needs supplemental D? The short answer is, just about every adult. Vitamin D is especially important to persons over 65, women past menopause, and anyone who uses sunscreen on a regular basis.
Can you get too many benefits vitamin D? Is there a real risk of vitamin D toxicity?
The short answer is, it's not likely.
Your body can never overproduce vitamin D. You could take enough vitamin D to experience nausea, rashes, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss-but you would have to take
about 100 times the recommended daily dose, over 40,000 IU per day.
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