By Chris D. Meletis, ND
Reprinted Courtesy of www.VRP.com
Vitamin D3 is one of the most useful nutritional tools we have at our disposal for improving overall health. This nutrient is unique in that even though it is a vitamin it has hormone-like actions and controls phosphorus, calcium, and bone metabolism and neuromuscular function. Vitamin D3 is the only vitamin the body can manufacture from sunlight. Yet, with today’s indoor living and the use of sunscreens due to concern about skin cancer, we are now a society with millions of individuals deficient in life-sustaining vitamin D3.
For more than a century, scientists have recognized that vitamin D3 is involved in bone health. Research has continued to accumulate that it can reduce the risk of fractures to a significant degree. The latest research, however, shows that Vitamin D3 deficiency is linked to a surprising number of other health conditions such as depression, back pain, cancer, insulin resistance and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, impaired immunity and macular degeneration.
At the same time it’s becoming clear that vitamin D3 may play a wide role in overall health, it’s becoming equally clear that a large percentage of individuals are deficient in this important nutrient. The fear of skin cancer has stopped many individuals from obtaining beneficial amounts of sunlight, which the skin converts into vitamin D3. Even individuals who venture out into the sun often use suntan lotion and may be deficient in vitamin D3. Furthermore, as we age, we are less equipped to produce sufficient quantities of this vital nutrient. One study found that age-related declines in kidney function may require older people to ingest more vitamin D to maintain the same blood levels as younger people.1
The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) is set so low that individuals who consume this small amount are still likely to be deficient. In fact, researchers have discovered that the RDI, which was considered adequate to prevent osteomalacia (a painful bone disease) or rickets, is nowhere near high enough to protect against the majority of diseases linked to vitamin D3 deficiency. For example, an analysis of the medical literature found that at least 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day is necessary to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and that a low dose of vitamin D3 did not have the same protective effect.2