Are You Vitamin D Deficient?

During his recent annual physical, my husband’s doctor informed him that he was extremely deficient in vitamin D. Two weeks later, my doctor reported that I’m in the same boat.  Often called the “sunshine vitamin,” the greatest source for vitamin D is the sun. But our efforts to protect ourselves from damaging UV rays by wearing ample sunscreen (which blocks the effects) combined with the less powerful rays given off from October to April, it’s no surprise that an estimated 50 percent or more of the world’s population have a vitamin D deficiency.

If women maintained high levels of vitamin D, they could reduce their risk of breast cancer as much as 50 percent; colorectal cancer up to 253 percent; and heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease more than 100 percent, says vitamin D expert Michael F. Holick, MD, PhD, of Boston University Medical Center. Vitamin D also assists in calcium absorption, which we know is integral for good bone health.

Taking a vitamin D supplement can help; talk to your provider about recommended dosage. But what else can you be doing to boost your intake? Get some sunshine: try for 10 to 15 minutes at least two times a week. Also, add some vitamin D rich items to your diet such as oily fish like salmon, cod, sardines, herring and mackeral, dried shitake mushrooms (sun-ripened) and shrimp.

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