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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Vitamin D Supplementation

Increasingly, it is thought that many westerners are now deficient in their levels of vitamin D. This is partially due to the fact that many individuals now spend the majority of each day inside and out of the sun (the best source of vitamin D), and also due to the fact that there are very few natural food sources for vitamin D, aside from cold water fish and enriched milk.

What are the benefits of vitamin D? Many or most of us have grown up knowing that this mineral is beneficial for strong bones and teeth. However, most of us haven't a clue as to the role this nutrient may play in other areas, such immune and brain functioning, and the likelihood of developing prostate and breast cancer.

Can you get enough vitamin D from a typical diet? This is debatable, and, as more time passes, increasingly a contentious issue. There are those who believe that a standard (and balanced diet) will generally provide every nutrient that is needed by the human body.

However, the percentage of the population that actually gets something akin to a consistently nutritious and balanced diet may be fairly low. And, then again, there is that fact that we have, as a society, become much more sedentary in our work and recreation, and more reliant on processed foods that are high in sodium, fat (not the good kind) and calories and low in nutritional value.

Individuals who believe in supplementation, including a number of noteworthy gerontologists, contend that:

1. There are optimal levels of nutrient substances, that, if maintained within the human body, may lead to optimal health.

2. These optimal levels of antioxidants and other nutrients are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to obtain through dietary intake alone.

Dr. Michael Holick, a researcher at the Boston University Medical Center, has stated that more than one-third of the U.S. population, perhaps half, is either chronically or seasonally deficient in vitamin D. Other researchers believe that the current recommended levels of vitamin D are too low and that the guidelines may increase, at some point, from 200 IUs (international units) daily to between 800 and 1000 international units daily.








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