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There has been quite a lot of very promising news from the science world about vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” recently. I’d like to just give a brief overview here, and include some links for further reading if something specifically interests you. Vitamin D is important because deficiency in adults is linked to osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases.
In a study conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a link was found between diabetes and vitamin D deficiency. They found a direct correlation between low vitamin D levels and glucose metabolism. Also research in mice suggested the vitamin plays a major role in preventing the inflammation that leads to type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis. It is known that there is a connection between low levels of vitamin D and increased risk of diabetes.
Researchers are now conducting clinical studies in people who have type 2 diabetes, treating them with vitamin D to explore whether it prevents some of the complication of diabetes and inflammation in humans.
Researchers in California have suggested that vitamin D and omega-3s helps improve cognitive function and behavior in people with a range of brain disorders such as autism. Exactly how the micro nutrients help hasn’t been clear. These two scientists believe they’ve found the missing link. Serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter, may be the key, according to Rhonda Patrick, PhD, and Bruce Ames, PhD, of Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). Their work appeared in February’s Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).
Vitamin D may reduce falls in older adults according to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. About one-third of older adults living at home will fall each year. Many of these falls result in serious injury and loss of independence. Higher concentrations of vitamin D were found to reduce those falls by about half.
Low levels of vitamin D were linked to accelerated cognitive decline in older adults. A study is on going to determine if supplementation with vitamin D would decrease the rate of mental decline.
High doses of vitamin D seem to enhance athletic performance and reduce the time needed to recover from exercise. Evidence from animal studies suggest that high doses of vitamin D may increase aerobic capacity, muscle growth and muscle power. Our bodies do manufacture vitamin D with sun exposure; however, a large portion of athletes are deficient in the vitamin.
Getting adequate vitamin D in our diet seems to be difficult. Supplements are inexpensive and easy to find. Our new Nature’s Garden super-food vitamin contains 100% of the daily recommended values which would be a great start. Personally, I also take an additional D supplement just to make sure I’m covered.