Here are some new findings about the wonderful benefits of vitamin D.

1. Possible prevention against autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS): Researchers conclude that low vitamin D levels are directly connected to cases of MS in the study of more than 3,000 families.

2. Regulating the release of insulin: Researchers showed that mice have vitamin D receptor cells located within insulin-secreting cells of the pancreas and these cells play an active role in the release of the blood sugar-regulating hormone when higher demand calls for its release. Some human studies suggest a correlation between low vitamin D levels and the tendency to develop type 2 diabetes.

3. Benefits heart muscles: A University of Rochester Medical Center study published in The Annals of Family Medicine determined in a study that African Americans have higher incidences of deaths from heart attacks and stroke because of low serum levels of vitamin D. Low serum levels of D may be related to many serious illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, kidney and heart disease.

4. Regulating blood pressure: If you’re not getting enough vitamin D from sunshine or the minimum 1,000 International Units (IUs) from supplements and food, you may be increasing your risk for developing high blood pressure suggests one study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. (Epidemiologic studies have shown that people living near the equator are less likely to have hypertension. It’s also been observed that blood pressures tend to be higher in the winter, when we get less sunlight, which your body uses to synthesize vitamin D.)

5. Preventing muscle weakness and pain: The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University supports the claim that muscle pain and weakness were major symptoms experienced by Arab and Danish-Muslim women, all of whom had very low vitamin D serum levels. Another small study of 124 women at nursing homes, with an average age of 89, concluded that those supplementing with 800 IUs per day of vitamin D had a 72 percent lower fall rate than those taking a placebo.

On a related note: What about skin cancer? Should you stay out of the sun? According to the journal Cancer, cancer rates are twice as high in the Northeast U.S. as compared to those in the Southwest. The journal concluded in one article that, “many lives could be extended through increased careful exposure to solar UV-B radiation and more safely, vitamin D3 supplementation, especially in non-summer months.”


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