Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for many functions in the body. Deficiencies can result in diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis.

More recently it has become apparent that people who have low vitamin D levels may be at increased risk of other serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancers such as breast, bowel, prostate and lymphoma amongst others. Studies have shown that those patients diagnosed with melanoma in summer do better than those diagnosed in winter and it has been postulated that this is because of the increased vitamin D levels during summer helping the body fight the cancer.

Usually Vitamin D is made in the skin in response to the sun’s UV rays. However, Vitamin D deficiency is becoming much more common as the anti-skin cancer message spreads and more people are avoiding the sun or covering up when in the sun.

Additionally, as one gets older, the enzyme that makes Vitamin D in the skin stops working which is why people over the age of 70 are susceptible to Vitamin D deficiency and potential bone and other problems.

Very few foods other than cod liver oil have enough Vitamin D to supplement one’s diet naturally so vitamin supplementation is recommended. To have the best effect, blood vitamin D levels should be right near the top of the normal range (approximately 120nmol/L) and supplementation of between 2000-5000IU may be required.

Please ask your doctor about having your vitamin D levels checked.

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