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Concepts in Fitness: ‘D’-fend your health

September 5, 2018 11:46 am Updated: September 5, 2018 12:14 pm


Sometimes called the sunshine vitamin; Vitamin D arrived on the medical scene more than a century ago and was largely viewed as a calcium and bone vitamin. And according to research about 90 percent of American adults are deficient in vitamin D increasing their risk of developing; prostate, breast and colon cancer, heart disease, depression, weight gain and other maladies.

This post takes a look at some of the surprising benefits of vitamin D including protection from certain cancers, depression, heart disease and weight gain.

Can vitamin D act in the brain to control weight?

That was the question posed by a study conducted by Dr. Stephanie Sisley. Using Long-Evans rats, vitamin D was delivered directly into the rat’s brain. After four weeks of continuous vitamin D supplementation, the results showed a significant reduction in body weight, no loss of muscle mass and decreased appetite compared to the rats that did not receive daily doses of vitamin D confirming that vitamin D can act on the brain to control weight.

Dr. Sisley’s study also posed the intriguing question about the relationship between vitamin D and blood sugar regulation. Again using Long-Evans rats, the results of the study confirmed that vitamin D can act significantly in the brain to improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity specifically in the liver. This is great news for those with insulin resistance.

And the benefits of vitamin D continue to surprise many in the medical community. Just consider the results of this important study published in Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of more than 3,000 veterans — ages 50-75 — those who consumed more than 645 IU of vitamin D a day along with more than 4 grams of fiber had a 40 percent reduction in their risk of developing precancerous colon polyps.

Another report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that elderly women who took a vitamin D supplement plus calcium for three months reduced their risk of falling by 49 percent compared to those who just took calcium.

Dr, Michael F. Holick, PhD, at Boston University School of Medicine says “Activated vitamin D is one of the most potent inhibitors of cancer cell growth. It also stimulates your pancreas to make insulin and regulates your immune system.”

Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but it can also be found in several foods including; salmon, swordfish, sardines, mushrooms, herring, cod liver oil, tuna and eggs. If you’re not a fan of any of those foods, a quality vitamin D supplement is your best option.

The Institute of Medicine currently recommends men and women get 600 IU of vitamin D a day, but recent research suggests those guidelines are way too low. The IOM currently lists 4, 000 IU a day as the highest amount of vitamin D you could take and still be safe, however you might need more like 7,000 to reap the biggest benefits of vitamin D.

Please consult your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet.

Reach Mary Schoepe at