Vitamin D – What you need to know
Last Edited: April 12th, 2012

Vitamin D has been making front page news in the recent years. This fat-soluble vitamin has been shown to play a role in the strength of the immune system as well as a potential protector against certain kinds of cancer.

So exactly what is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is found naturally in certain foods, like eggs, fortified milk and fish. The sun also contributes to the production of Vitamin D. The Mayo Clinic recommends 10 minutes of daily exposure in order for our bodies to transform the ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays into Vitamin D. There are actually two different kinds of Vitamin D: D2 or ergocalciferol and D3 or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D3 is the kind that we humans synthesize via the sun, whereas D2 is synthesized by plants.

Vitamin D is responsible for regulating the correct amounts of calcium and phosphorous in the blood. Recent research has linked Vitamin D as a protector against osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer and a number of autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Older people are more at risk for Vitamin D deficiency because they often don't get enough sunlight or consume the right foods that contain the vitamin. Therefore a supplement is often recommended, especially for older adults who live in colder climates where sunlight is scarce throughout the winter months.

But since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that excess consumed levels are absorbed in the body and not excreted, it is important to work with a medical provider to determine a safe amount of Vitamin D to take. In addition, certain medications can interact with Vitamin D so it is equally important to discuss with your medical provider if your prescription medication safe to take with a Vitamin D supplement.

A simple blood test can also determine whether your Vitamin D levels are in a healthy range.

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