The sunshine vitamin
Vitamin D has important roles to play in the health of our bodies.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has many important jobs within our body. It is often known as the “sunshine vitamin” because of the miraculous way that our body can synthesize it through our skin. Just 45 minutes per week can supply enough vitamin D. Your body regulates how much vitamin D it synthesizes. Sun screen, smog and clothing can affect the synthesis of the vitamin.
Vitamin D plays an important role in helping to prevent several serious health conditions. Calcium is a mineral needed for strong bones and vitamin D plays a crucial role in the absorption of calcium into the bones. While most bone is formed when a person is young, vitamin D can assist with the reduction of bone loss well into adulthood. Vitamin D has also been shown to help in the reduction of falls among the older population. Research shows that a person low in vitamin D has an increased risk of falling.
Some large studies show that getting enough vitamin D can reduce a person’s risk of getting certain cancers, such as colon, breast, prostate, skin and pancreas. Vitamin D can also lower the risk of high blood pressure. It does not prevent a person from getting high blood pressure, but those with high levels of vitamin D seem to have a reduced risk of having high blood pressure.
Studies have also shown that low levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, but there is no evidence to show that taking higher levels of the vitamin prevents or treats this disease. Higher levels of vitamin D in the blood have also shown lower risks of developing multiple sclerosis, as well as a decreased risk of obesity.
Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines, as well as vitamin D fortified milk and eggs. Exposure to the sunshine is another way to get your vitamin D, although be cautious to limit the time spent directly in the sun. You cannot get too much vitamin D from the sunshine or food but you can get too much from supplements. Always check with your doctor before taking a supplement as they can interfere with some medications.
Please check out http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for more healthy food information and menu ideas.