Vitamin D - why it's so important

If you have been paying attention, you may have noticed a sudden increase in the news coverage of vitamin D. I recently read an article discussing how the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that the RDA of vitamin D for children be raised from 200 IU to 400 IU, which is the RDA for adults. The RDA, or Recommended Dietary Allowance, for most nutrients are values established to avoid acute disease. In this case, the RDA for vitamin D was set to prevent the development of Rickets, a bone softening disease. However, we are starting to learn that the nutrients we get from our food may be decreasing with the decreasing nutrients in our soil in combination with the over processing of our foods. This unfortunate truth is the number one reason to supplement our diets with vitamins and minerals. The number two reason to supplement is the RDA for most nutrients is the bare minimum you need to avoid disease, not the optimal amount. With the amount of stress we endure on a day to day basis, and the poor quality of our diets in general, supplementation is nearly essential these days.

You may also have heard that vitamin D is "The Sunshine Vitamin" and that all you have to do is get 15-20 minutes of sunshine a day to make sure your body can produce enough vitamin D. This is definitely true, but lately, studies have shown that 70-80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, even in mostly sunny climates like Florida and Arizona. The reason for this has been postulated that we spend most of the sunny days indoors anyway, and also because our bodies have a more difficult time producing vitamin D when we are wearing sunscreen. And most people recognize the importance of sunscreen!

So we know we aren't getting enough...but you are probably noticing that you don't have Rickets, so why do you care????

I'll give you 3 reasons why you should.

1) Vitamin D is ESSENTIAL is calcium absoprtion, as well as bone development. If you are trying to manage osteoporosis, or better yet, prevent it, Vit D is as essential as calcium.

2) People with low back pain have been found to be vitamin D deficient. The link here is not limited to the low back, however. If you are a frequent sufferer of musculoskeletal pain and/or stiffness, you too may be deficient. Subsequently, when these people were supplemented with vitamin D, their pain eased and/or disappeared.

3) Vitamin D upregulates anti-microbial peptides in the body. Or, more simply put, it helps produce proteins that fight bacteria, viruses and fungi.... naturally. So, to prevent the colds and flu going around, vitamin D makes perfect sense. In fact, there is an entire theory that links the cold and flu season (winter) to the fact that we have fewer hours of sunshine per day (and therefore, fewer opportunities to bask in said sunshine).

Source: "General News" adapted from European Sunlight Association