What do you know about Vitamin D? You're probably aware that it's one of the most important nutrients in the body and that you need sunlight to stimulate your skin to produce it. Most importantly, you surely know that it's "good for the bones". It is indeed, since it helps in calcium absorption which is indispensable in making your bones stronger.
Recently however, various studies have discovered more about Vitamin D and its other uses to human health. Alhough these findings still need further research before the medical world can fully take advantage of them, they do provide more reasons for you to ensure that you have adequate intake of Vitamin D.
Types of Vitamin D
The current recommended amount of Vitamin D is 30-60 ng/ml for adults. There are two forms of Vitamin D significant to man: D2 and D3.
- D3 is the Vitamin D produced by your skin with the help of morning sunlight.
- D2, on the other hand, is found in foods like fish, liver, egg yolks, and fortified milk and cereals. You may also opt to take Vitamin D supplements if advised by your doctor.
So what are these other health benefits that Vitamin D can give you?
It Prevents Diabetes.
A report on WebMD, released on June 28, discussed the results of a study claiming that Vitamin D fights diabetes in individuals who are predisposed to become diabetic.
The research conducted by Dr. Anastassios Pittas of Tufts Medical Center in Boston involved 2,039 participants with prediabetes or high blood sugar levels and was conducted over a period of three years.
Pittas discovered that the higher the level of Vitamin D in the blood of his subjects, the lower their chances to develop Type 2 diabetes. He said that the risk of having diabetes decreased by 8% for every 5 ng/ml increase in Vitamin D levels and those with the ideal Vitamin D level of 30 ng/ml slashed their diabetes risk by 38%.
This study supported a previous research conducted by the Loyola University of Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing which concluded that consuming adequate amount of Vitamin D delays the onset of diabetes as well as prevents complications in those who are already diagnosed. The study also claimed that Vitamin D supplementation decreases the risk not only to Type 2 diabetes but also Type 1 Diabetes. Dr. Sue Penckofer, co-author of the study explained that this is because Vitamin D strongly affects insulin sensitivity and secretion.
Researchers stressed further that if their findings are established, they will greatly benefit diabetics as well as those who are prone to diabetes because Vitamin D is easily available and inexpensive.
It Decreases Heart Risks in Men.
A U.S study at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that men who take the recommended amounts of Vitamin D are less likely to suffer from heart attack or stroke than those who are Vitamin D deficient.
The results of the research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that men who consumed at least 600 IU of Vitamin D were 16% safer from heart disorders and stroke than those who have an intake of mere 100 IU.
However, the study, which monitored 119,000 adults in two decades, did not derive such observation among the female participants. According to lead researcher Qi Sun, the probable reason for this is that women may have lower amount of active vitamin D circulating in their blood. She added that Vitamin D is stored in fat and women have a higher percentage of body fat than men.
It Kills Breast Cancer Cells.
A study by JoEllen Welsh, a researcher from the State University of New York at Albany, found out that Vitamin D can destroy human breast cancer cells. Welsh, who had studied the effects of vitamin D for 25 years, took some breast cancer cells and treated them with a potent form of vitamin D. After a few days, she observed that the cancer cells shriveled up and died - an effect that is similar to what Tamoxifen, a drug used to treat breast cancer, can do.
"What happens is that vitamin D enters the cells and triggers the cell death process", Welsh explained in an interview with Good Morning America. Alhough it still has a long way to go before Vitamin D is declared a breast cancer cure, medical experts consider Welsh's finding as "encouraging".
These are only three of the recent discoveries on the good effects of Vitamin to your health. There are also researches showing that this sunlight vitamin is effective in preventing melanoma, multiple sclerosis, asthma, and Crohn's disease. In fact, some medical professionals are now calling Vitamin D as the "It" nutrient in fighting diseases. They, however, warn against too much sun exposure and excessive intake of Vitamin D supplements. Indeed, Vitamin D has come a long way from being just your "bone vitamin".