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Do You Need More Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is amazing. It regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth and facilitates normal immune system function. It lowers the risk of developing MS, heart disease, the flu and depression, and assists in weight loss.

It also might help prevent breast cancer.

A recent study at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, found that levels of Vitamin D above 60 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) were associated with an 80% lower risk of breast cancer in women than those with levels at 20 ng/ml or less.

You can maintain an adequate level of Vitamin D several ways.  It is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. You can also get it through certain foods, like tuna, salmon, liver, eggs, cheese and Vitamin D fortified milk. Or you can do what many people do, and take supplements.

We’ve always known that it is important to get enough Vitamin D. But the Creighton study raises the question: how much is enough? The 60 ng/ml threshold in the study is significantly higher than current recommended levels of 20 ng/ml. Which means we might start hearing the minimum recommended level start to increase for women.

I was happy to find out after my recent yearly physical that my Vitamin D level was 70. Most of my exercise is outdoors, and although I wear a lot of sun protection, it seems enough sun gets through to my skin to produce ample Vitamin D.

If you apply fastidious amounts of sunscreen or cover up outside, or if you spend most of your time indoors, you might want to look into Vitamin D supplements. But talk to your doctor first to see if you need them. Although the Creighton study found no adverse side effects of taking additional Vitamin D supplements to reach the level of 60 ng/ml, taking excessive unnecessary supplements can be dangerous, not to mention a waste of money.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates there will be more than 266,000 new breast cancer cases among U.S. women this year, and 40,900 breast cancer deaths.

If you are like me and believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, think a little more about how to get more Vitamin D in your diet and your life.

– E.C.T.

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