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Vitamin D, Are you getting enough - Vitamin D has a long and very fascinating history. Rickets, a disease consisting of bone deformities, pain and fractures was first defined in the 17th century but it took until 1920 before the cure for Rickets was discovered. That cure is known as Vitamin D.
Today in Canada, we rarely see cases of Rickets, but low Vitamin D levels can cause osteomalacia (softening of the bones) and osteoporosis (fragile bones) in adults.
Vitamin D’s best known role is to keep bones healthy by helping to increase the absorption of Calcium. Without enough Vitamin D, the body can only absorb 10-15% of dietary calcium. If Vitamin D only protected bones, it would still be very essential to our health. But researchers have discovered that it may do much more. Vitamin D may also play a role in reducing your risk of Multiple Sclerosis, decreasing your chance of developing heart disease and helping to reduce your likelihood of developing the flu. Researchers have also noticed that people who don’t have enough Vitamin D tend to fall more often than other people. They found that taking a Vitamin D supplement reduces the risk of falling by up to 22%.
As important as Vitamin D is, very few foods contain Vitamin D so some foods such as milk, cereal and orange juice have Vitamin D added to them. However, it is impossible to get your daily dose of Vitamin D through diet alone.
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” since our body produces vitamin D naturally through direct exposure to sunlight. Just 10 minutes a day of mid-day sun is plenty. However, as we enter the winter months and our days become shorter with less hours of sunlight it can be very difficult to get the sufficient amount of Vitamin D through the sun alone.
Taking Vitamin D supplements can help you get the proper amount of this Vitamin. Health Canada recommends at least 400 IU per day in infants and up to 800 IU per day in adults over 70. New research suggests that higher daily amounts are needed and that people over the age of 50 generally need higher amounts of Vitamin D than younger people do.
Although the exact amount may be in question, the importance of Vitamin D is not. Talk to your Pharmacist or Doctor to ensure you get the right amount for your needs.
Tammi Hanowski, BSP, Pharmacist
Cheetham's Pharmacy - Saskatoon
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