There have been great advances in understanding the many useful functions of Vitamin D, besides the well-known benefits for supporting healthy bones. Vitamin D has a role in immune support, both in decreasing the risk of breast and prostate cancer. It also helps to modulate other diseases such as multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease. There is growing proof that Vitamin D is a key player in moods, giving a new meaning to its nickname “sunshine vitamin!”
We now know many of us have diets deficient in Vitamin D; this is true for greater than 70 percent of women older than 50, and up to 90 percent of women older than 70! Measuring your blood for Vitamin D is a cost-effective and important test for ensuring adequacy of this important nutrient.
Vitamin D can be made by the body when the skin is exposed to sunshine, but few people get enough sunlight each day to create adequate amounts, and those that do wear sunscreen that prevents this conversion (or they ought to, since UV rays cause damage as well as converting cholesterol in the skin to Vitamin D).
The type of Vitamin D you use for replacement is important. Vitamin D3 is the active form, versus Vitamin D2, which must be converted to D3 in our bodies. Some people do not convert D2 easily, so we recommend supplementing with D3.
At IMA, we carry an active D3 product; 1,000 to 2,000, units/day is the recommended dosage. However, 4,000 units/day is not unusual. Daily doses of 50,000 to 200,000 units/week of D3 may be required for correcting deficiencies.
Another recent development shows that Vitamin D is important for muscle as well as bone health. In fact, Vitamin D may help decrease muscle pain and weakness caused by D deficiency and may have potential value in patients with fibromyalgia. In the elderly, Vitamin D helps improve strength and balance and decreases falls and fractures; it is also helping patients with Parkinson?s disease!
— Will Corell, M.D.