Weatherford Democrat

March 24, 2013

VETERANS' CORNER: A sunny way to better health


Weatherford Democrat

— By JIM VINES

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin,” promotes bone and tooth development as well as normal growth. This vitamin helps your body with the utilization of phosphorous and calcium. Vitamin D is also essential for heart health.

A number of studies have found that higher vitamin D amounts protect against some cancers and illnesses, such as rickets, bone-thinning osteoporosis and diabetes. It also helps the body’s immune system work properly. Certain foods such as fish, eggs and mushrooms, along with vitamin supplements, contain vitamin D, but the main source for the body is the sun.

It takes just 10 to 20 minutes of sunlight a few times a week to make plenty of vitamin D. Still, if you spend most of your time indoors and/or live in the northern half of the country, producing enough vitamin D can be problematic, especially in the winter. Vitamin D is considered a hormone as well as a vitamin for its role in body processes. It works together with calcium and phosphorous to strengthen bones and teeth, and aids in the absorption of vitamin A. Vitamin D may also help eye problems such as conjunctivitis, myopia, and cataracts. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so its essential for bone health.

Studies have pointed to the possibility that vitamin D may help prevent and treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Low levels of vitamin D have been inked to a worsening of multiple sclerosis systems. In addition to promoting bone health, vitamin D is also a major factor in regulating metabolism, taming hunger cravings, and boosting your immune system.

It is no surprise then, to see more sniffles in the cold winter months when we are bundled away from the vitamin D-giving sun. For an immunity boost, show some skin. Multiple studies demonstrate the association between increased vitamin D intake and reduced risk for colorectal, skin, breast and prostate cancers.

If over 60 years old, there might be difficulty absorbing vitamin D and converting vitamin D to the type needed by the body. After 60 take 600 IUs a day, vitamin D2 and D3 to supplement the diet. D2 comes from plant sources and D3 which absorbs into the blood stream faster comes from animal sources.

Be careful to overexposure with the sun. This exposure is not sunbathing, rather it comes from time in the sun doing other things. For example, walking from the car or bus to the store, in parks and walking trails in sunlight are ways to get casual sun exposure. Remember to consult with your physician if you feel that vitamin D is lacking in your system.

Speak to you again next week.

Jim Vines is commander of AmVets Post 133.