Laurence H. Miller, MD
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Vitamin D Expose:
​Do you know what you need to know about Vitamin D?
​By Laurence H. Miller, MD
     Vitamin D has been in the news quite a lot over the last few years -  for good reason.  It's important for our well-being and a large number of children and adults have an inadequate intake of this essential nutrient.                                                
       It is clear that Vitamin D is needed by the body to properly handle calcium.  The bones of the skeleton are made strong by calcium, but the intestinal tract only absorbs the calcium you eat if enough Vitamin D is present in the body.  And it's Vitamin D that deposits calcium into bone.  The dreaded bone deformity of children known as Rickets results from soft bones in a child severely low in Vitamin D.                                         
       Very few foods contain Vitamin D.  Milk has a little added to it.  Salmon has a nice amount, but few people will eat it daily.  The UV light in sunshine makes Vitamin D through the skin, but sunlight damages the skin, and wintertime sun is too low in the sky to make Vitamin D if you live north of Atlanta, Georgia.  Also, people with dark skin make much less Vitamin D, even in the summer sun, as their pigment filters out UV rays.  Overweight people tend to be deficient in Vitamin D as are people with intestinal disorders.                          
       What's very exciting but still unconfirmed are the other benefits we get from having generous supplies of "D".  There is data to suggest that people with higher levels of Vitamin D suffer less cancer of the colon, breast, and prostate; along with fewer cases of autoimmune diseases like diabetes, Lupus, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis; and also have a better immune protection against infection like tuberculosis and influenza.  They also suffer less from depression, aches and pains as in fibromyalgia and are also less prone to hypertension.
              Importantly, pregnant women and their unborn babies benefit greatly from Vitamin D.  Generous intake during the prenatal period can have lifelong advantageous effects on a child's health, including reduced risk of asthma and diabetes.  Their bones may also be less likely to get osteoporosis when they become old.       
      How much Vitamin D is enough?  The Institute of Medicine has acknowledged that it's safe for babies up to 6 months old to have 1000 IU daily, adults and children over a year old can take 2000 IU daily.  Some experts recommend even higher intake, but others are concerned with possible toxic effects from too much.  There is a blood test for 25-hydroxy Vitamin D that indicates if your stored  Vitamin D is high enough for best effect but not at an excessive level. 
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