By Gerald W. Deas, M.D.
Recently, it has been reported that an increase in the intake of vitamin D has resulted in preventing an early death caused by heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Although it is not certain exactly how much vitamin D should be taken on a daily basis, it is suggested that at least 600 International Units (IU) is desirable.
Vitamin D is found abundantly in foods such as, milk, salt water fish and cod liver oil. I can recall upon leaving home for school, my mom would have a tablespoon of cod liver oil waiting for me as I exited the door. To say the least, it wasn’t a pleasant taste however, it did give me a taste of good health as a child. I believe that children today would have less colds and other infections if this practice was continued. There is now on the market many flavorful cod liver oil preparations. I am sure that the Eskimos are truly enjoying good health from the omega 3 oils that are found in their diet consisting of vitamin D laden fish.
Vitamin D is activated by sunlight however, at least 40% of the body must be exposed to these rays. During the winter months, when one is not exposed to adequate sunlight, a deficiency of this vitamin prevails.
Years ago, hospitalized patients would often be exposed to sunlight by rolling their beds to a well lit balcony. This practice ensured a quicker recovery from multiple medical conditions. I have often suggested that hospitalized patients be exposed to sunlight provided by a Light Box which duplicates the same sun rays. By this exposure, the patient today can remain inside and receive the same benefits.
Vitamin D is also essential for the transport of calcium from the gut to maintain a healthy bone structure. It is suggested that a supplement of 1000mg. of calcium and 500mg. of magnesium be taken daily.
It has also been reported recently that African Americans have a lower level of vitamin D in their bodies. This may be one reason why there is a greater prevalence of cancer in the black community. Unexplained lower back pain has also been documented when vitamin D levels are low. It is therefore important for your physician to obtain blood levels of vitamin D to ensure that you have an adequate supply of this essential nutrient.