The Sunshine Vitamin: Benefits of Vitamin D3

For a long time vitamin D3 was simply regarded as the anti-rickets and bone-health vitamin. Because it was originally labeled as a vitamin, it was seemingly unimportant. 

Over the past decade scientific research has been realizing its importance in preventing a number of health problems.  It is now properly recognized as a prohormone that is essential to life. 

Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble prohormone that is vital for the effective absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus needed for the development and maintenance of healthy bone and teeth formation. It is also an integral component in the prevention of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

The benefits of Vitamin D3 go far beyond bone health. Deficiency of Vitamin D3 is linked to autoimmune dysfunction, cancer, heart disease, neurologic disorders, and even multiple sclerosis. It has been stated that Vitamin D3 may be the single most important supplement we can take for optimal health. Vitamin D3 can be synthesized by your body with 40 percent of your skin exposed to sunshine for 15 to 20 minutes a day. This is unlikely today due to the increased risk of skin cancer and the effects the sun has on the aging population.  Tanning beds do not provide the needed UV-B rays that assist in the production of Vitamin D3.

Although foods have been enriched with Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) , consuming these foods have not increased the levels of Vitamin D3 in the blood.  Foods high in Vitamin D3 a are salmon, mackerel, sardines, and oysters, egg yolks, and beef liver. However, many of these foods are not consumed in large enough qualities to effectively increase levels of Vitamin D3. The recommended levels are anywhere from 35 to 80 Ng/m for this prohormone to perform its role in the body.

The best way to obtain optimal levels of Vitamin D3 is through supplements.  The current recommendation ranges from 800 to 5000 units per day to be taken with a fatty meal for better absorption. However, before self-prescribing Vitamin D3, it is advised that you have your levels checked.  Take a proactive approach and ask your health care provider for a blood test to check your vitamin D serum levels on your next office visit.

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