Happy Vitamin D Day! The Awesome Benefits of Vitamin D

Image of shining sunToday is “Vitamin D Day” as designated by the Vitamin D Council.

The goal is to raise awareness of the benefits of Vitamin D. I became interested in Vitamin D in 2005, when I began reading early studies about the relationship of Vitamin D to cancer. At one time, I remember remarking that I was surprised companies even sold Vitamin D supplements, since the this hormone-vitamin had few benefits.

It turns out I was very very wrong. Studies are showing the importance of Vitamin D in preventing cancer, multiple sclerosis, depression, influenza, pregnancy complications, autism, and more (source). The reason? This vitamin is really a hormone, and it is involved in a lot of biological processes. In fact, many problems that plague adults could be a result of Vitamin D deficiency in their mothers while pregnant and nursing.

The sun played a vital role in human evolution, and for hundreds of thousands of years ancient humans were in the sun almost all the time, living near the equator. We have gone from being in the sun almost all the time, to being afraid of it. As such, it was common for humans to take in over 10,000 IU of Vitamin D a day during the summer (of course the body has a process to limit production from the sun after a short period of time). Considering the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is only 400 IU per day, most Americans are woefully deficient. In fact, a recent study about Vitamin D and pregnancy showed that pregnant and nursing mothers need 4000 IU/day to supply the infant with his needs. That is 10 times the RDA, a number virtually impossible to reach outside of regular sun exposure or supplementation.

Unfortunately, kids are taught to never go outside without sunblock. Most adults just stay inside all day naturally, seemingly preferring to sit at a desk than be subjected to the elements of sun and fresh air. The sun, a source of light necessary for all life, has become viewed as the enemy. Even so-called experts suggest staying out of the sun nearly entirely, to avoid skin cancer. The result has been a decrease in easily treatable skin cancers and an increase in difficult to treat internal cancers, like colon and breast. Certain nutritionists have suggested drinking some milk will provide you with Vitamin D, which is kind of true. You would need to drink 50 glasses to get the 10,000 IU made from just 10-20 minutes of sun exposure.

Even if you rely on the sun for your Vitamin D, outside of living near the equator you may still have problems. The sun in more Northern parts of the world is not strong enough to produce vitamin D from October to mid-April. This means that unless you get enough from diet (unlikely), you are relying entirely on your summer stores to supply your winter needs. Unfortunately, many Westerners are already deficient in Vitamin D going into the winter.

Supplements of Vitamin D are cheap. Vitamin D3 (the preferred form – Cholecalciferol) is made from lamb’s wool. And, no lambs are harmed in the process, although they do look uglier after being sheared.

About David Bennett

David Bennett is a teacher, author, and speaker. His articles receive over a million hits per year and have appeared in a variety of publications. He is co-owner of a communication company, and he also writes for The Popular Teen and other sites. Follow him on LinkedIn or Twitter.