Among its many other nutritional benefits, researchers have determined that regular intake of vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of falls in the elderly. Older adults often exhibit low serum vitamin D concentrations, which puts the skeletal system at risk. When taken in conjunction with calcium to reduce vitamin degradation, vitamin D compounds enhance active absorption of calcium and phosphate. As a result, bone does not need to be reabsorbed to maintain blood calcium concentrations, which in turn plays a role in maintaining strength. In addition, epidemiological studies have focused on the relationship between vitamin D and muscle function. Vitamin D assists in preserving high muscle contraction speed and power, and indirect evidence indicates that low bone density in osteoporotic elderly women with vitamin D insufficiency may be linked to increased postural sway. Vitamin D has been shown to influence the nervous system via its function in certain parts of the brain, particularly the cortical, subcortical and spinal motor zones. Clinical trials have indicated that vitamin D supplementation, when taken in conjunction with calcium, reduces the risk of some hip and other non-vertebral fractures.
Good News for Vitamin and Mineral Users
Three recently published studies showed positive findings for the role of vitamins in disease prevention and overall wellness. Intake levels of calcium, vitamin D and B vitamins showed a strong association with reduced risks of acute health conditions. The Council for Responsible Nutrition applauded the study conclusions stating that the new findings may lead to some new avenues of research.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported a positive link between high intakes of calcium from both food and supplements and lower incidences of colorectal and other digestive cancers in both men and women. Additionally, women who consumed up to 1,300 mgs of calcium per day had an overall lower risk of cancer. Click here for more information.
Vitamin D and it's Significant Role in the Body
Vitamin D has long been known to support bone health but new studies are revealing impacts such as increased muscle strength in preteen girls and improved cognitive function in the elderly. Vitamin D also has roles in the nervous and reproductive system and in muscle contraction. Given the significance of the role of Vitamin D, it is not surprising to see that experts are requesting a closer look at the current intakes and recommendations. Currently the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for Vitamin D ranges from 200-600 IU per day depending on the age and gender of the individual. The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) commented that the current daily recommended intakes (DRI's) are based on Vitamin D deficiency diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia and are outdated, especially in the light of new research findings about the role of Vitamin D in health.
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The First Group of Players on Your Team - Vitamins
The first group of players on your team is vitamins. If you're like most teenagers, you've probably heard one of your parents say, "Eat your vegetables - they are packed with vitamins!" Vitamins are compounds found in abundance in whole, fresh foods. Your body needs them to function properly and each one has a special role to play.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body, mainly in fat tissues and the liver. Vitamins A, D, E. and K are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve in fat but not in water. They are happy to remain stored in your body and the body's own intelligence will send them to where they are needed at the right time.
Water-soluble vitamins are different. They really can't be stored in the body for very long. That's because these vitamins dissolve in water, so extra amounts are carried out of your body. Because they don't stick around, you need to replenish them every day. Vitamin C and all the B vitamins are watersoluble. Click here for more information.
Vitamin D is an extraordinary nutrient because its needs can be met in two distinct ways. The first is by the body's ability to produce it internally from sun exposure; the second is from foods and dietary supplements. In addition to aiding in the absorption of calcium for bone health, mounting evidence points to other roles, including immune system support, the reduction of inflammation in the body and cell health. Even as its supportive role in human health becomes more popularized, concerns about the sufficiency of vitamin D in the population are growing. Recently, there has been some evidence about the re-emergence of vitamin D-deficient rickets and a prevalence of low circulating levels of vitamin D in the United States population. Until the revelation of these data, it had been assumed that vitamin D deficiency had been eliminated as a significant problem, and that the strategies used to achieve this success (e.g., food fortification) served as role models of successful public health interventions. For all of the reasons mentioned above it's essential that the message of vitamin D gets out, it clearly plays a vital role in optimal wellness.
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked To Increased Heart Disease Risk
Recently there has been an increasing number of studies linking vitamin D to its protective abilities against low bone density and certain types of cancers. Additionally there is growing evidence suggesting that a vitamin D deficiency may adversely affect the cardiovascular system, but data from longitudinal studies are lacking. For this reason, researchers evaluated an offspring study involving 1739 participants that was initiated in 1971. They examined the association between vitamin D status and disease risk status. Their findings showed that people with low vitamin D levels had a higher rate of cardiovascular events. This raises the possibility that treatment of a vitamin D deficiency, through supplementation or lifestyle measures, could reduce heart disease risk. Further clinical and experimental
studies may be warranted to confirm this conclusion.For more information go to the journal Circulation, January 2008.
Vitamin D Deficiencies Still Common Yet Preventable
According to a recent review in the New England Journal of Medicine, vitamin D deficiencies are common in children and adults even though a lot of processed foods are fortified with this essential nutrient. In utero and during childhood, vitamin D deficiency can inhibit growth, cause skeletal deformation and may increase the risk of hip fracture later in life. Vitamin D deficiency in adults can contribute to muscle weakness, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and a numberof other diseases. Additionally, the review stated that much evidence suggests the recommended daily intakes are inadequate and need to be increased to at least 800 IU's of vitamin D3 per day. Unless a person eats oily fish on a regular basis, it is difficult to obtain this level from dietary sources. Therefore, sensible sun exposure and the intake of supplements are needed to fulfill the body's vitamin D requirement. For more information go to the New England Journal of Medicine, July 2007.
Vitamin D and Osteoporosis
It is estimated that over 25 million adults in the United States have, or are at risk of developing, osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by fragile bones, and it significantly increases the risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis is most often associated with inadequate calcium intake. However, a deficiency of vitamin D also contributes to osteoporosis by reducing calcium absorption. While rickets and osteomalacia are extreme examples of vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis is an example of a long-term effect of vitamin D insufficiency. Adequate storage levels of vitamin D help keep bones strong and may help prevent osteoporosis in older adults, in non-ambulatory individuals (those who have difficulty walking and exercising), in post-menopausal women, and in individuals on chronic steroid therapy.
The Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium, an essential nutrient, is the most abundant mineral in the human body. More than 99% of the body’s total calcium content can be found in the bones and teeth, while the remaining 1% is distributed throughout the body in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells. Calcium is required for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, healthy hormone and enzyme secretion, and balanced nervous system functioning. A consistent level of calcium is maintained in body fluid and tissues so these vital body processes run smoothly.
For calcium to be absorbed sufficiently, it depends upon the presence of adequate amounts of vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, which works with the parathyroid hormone to regulate the amount of calcium in the blood. Vitamin D also works with other nutrients to promote bone mineralization. Without this important vitamin, bones can become thin, brittle and misshapen. Vitamin D can be acquired either by ingestion or exposure to sunlight.
In spite of the fact that calcium and vitamin D are critical daily nutrients, most Americans do not get enough calcium, and, in certain populations, some lack adequate amounts of vitamin D. This may be due to the fact that we eat more processed foods than ever before - foods devoid of essential nutrition. Research increasingly confirms that diets lacking in natural whole fruits, a wide variety of vegetables, grains, lean meats, healthy dairy products, nuts and seeds have a significant impact on our health, quality of life and longevity. It’s a fact that nutritional deficiencies can lead to certain types of disease. Without an adequate, constant supply of calcium and vitamin D, bones, teeth, muscle and overall well being will be compromised.
Children Residing in the North At Risk of Low Vitamin D Levels
According to a recent U.S. study, approximately 55 per cent of seemingly healthy adolescents may be vitamin D deficient and at an elevated risk of osteoporosis and other problems later in life. Vitamin D is known for its ability to promote calcium absorption and help maintain and build strong bones. The new research measured vitamin D levels in the blood of 382 healthy children between six years and 21 years of age residing in the northeastern United States. After measuring the intake of vitamin D from dietary and supplemental sources and evaluating blood levels of vitamin D, the researchers found that 55 percent of the youth had inadequate vitamin D blood levels, with the proportion rising to 68 percent in winter.
For more information go to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 86, July 2007. Read More.
Combination of Calcium and Vitamin D May Help Cholesterol Levels During Weight Loss
In a recent trial from the University of Laval in Canada researchers found that a combination of calcium and vitamin D during weight loss intervention in overweight and obese women could improve blood cholesterol levels. The randomized, double-blind controlled study involved 63 women with daily calcium intakes less than 800 milligrams per day. The subjects were assigned to either the calcium/vitamin D group or placebo group, with both groups following a weight loss plan of 700 kcal per day. At the end of 15 weeks of supplementation it was determined that the calcium supplements had a significant positive impact on the total cholesterol ratio of the participants. HDL (so-called "good" cholesterol) and LDL (so-called "bad" cholesterol) also improved. The improvements in blood lipid levels were independent of changes in fat mass and in waist circumference. Although this is a positive sign for calcium and vitamin D supplementation, more research is needed to confirm these findings. For more information go to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 1, January 2007.
Vitamin D and Calcium Supplementation Reduces Cancer Risk
A four year double-blind, placebo-controlled trial set out to determine the efficacy of calcium alone and calcium plus vitamin D in reducing incident cancer risk of all types in humans. When all was said and done the study concluded that improving calcium and vitamin D nutritional status substantially reduces all-cancer risk in postmenopausal women. Additional research would help to confirm these findings. For more information go to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, Issue 6, June 2007. Click here for more information.
Vitamin D Intake May Reduce Breast Cancer
According to a recent epidemiological research study, scientists came to the conclusion that an increase of Vitamin D from the diet and the sun may reduce the risk of breast cancer later in life by 30 per cent. The study, done by a Canadian Institute, collected data from 972 women with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer and 1,135 healthy controls and questioned them to assess vitamin D-related variables, such as milk consumption, sunlight exposure from outdoor activity, and cod liver oil intake. Researchers believe that, during adolescence, these three variables may be linked to lowering breast cancer risks. Findings showed that drinking at least 10 glasses of milk per week was associated with a 38 per cent risk reduction. Increased exposure to sunlight during adolescence was associated with a 35 per cent risk reduction later in life and increased cod liver oil intake showed a 24 per cent risk reduction. This preliminary study suggests that an increase in Vitamin D during the breast development years will have a better impact in reducing the risk of breast cancer later in life. More research needs to take place to confirm the findings. For more detailed information go to Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, March 1, 2007.
Vitamin D During Pregnancy May Reduce Child Wheezing
A recent study by researchers from Harvard Medical School has found that taking vitamin D during pregnancy may reduce a child's risk of developing a wheezing illness during the first 5 years of their life.
Doctors used food-frequency-questionnaire data to record the maternal vitamin D intake from a random sample of 2,000 pregnant women. The average Vitamin D intake during pregnancy was 500 IU and women who increased their dosage by 100 IU, decreased their child's risk of developing a wheezing illness by 10%. Continued research is necessary to see if the wheezing risk remains the same as the children grow older. For more information go to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 85, March 2007.
Calcium and Vitamin D May Limit Stress Fractures
According to a study presented at the 53rd annual Orthopaedic Research Society meeting in February of 2007, calcium and vitamin D supplementation, even for a short period of time, can significantly reduce stress fractures (overuse injuries to the bone). This randomized, double-blind placebo controlled study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, looked at two groups of female military recruits between the ages of 17 and 35. One group received daily pill supplements of 2,000 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D. The other group received placebo or "dummy" pills. During the course of the study, 170 recruits in the placebo group experienced about 25 per cent more stress fractures that the group taking the supplement. Calcium is known to support bone formation and repair, while vitamin D is known to help the body in its absorption. Additional studies would help to confirm these findings. For more information go to the following Creighton University webpage.
Calcium and Vitamin D May Help Reduce Stress Fractures
A recent study conducted by researchers at Creighton University amongst Naval recruits showed that active women who took higher-than-recommended doses of calcium and vitamin D supplements for eight weeks had fewer stress fractures than the other female recruits who were taking a placebo. This study, funded by the Department of Defense, was recently presented at the Orthopedic Research Society's annual meeting in San Diego. The study, which took place at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Ill., showed that approximately 1000 out of 3700 women recruits who took 2,000mg of Calcium (Recommended Dietary Allowance 1,000mg) and 800 IUs of Vitamin D (Recommended Dietary Allowance 200 IUs) had fewer fractures. It is a known fact that the human body uses calcium to build and repair bones while Vitamin D helps the body absorb it. More research is needed to confirm the findings of this study. For more information click here.
Research Shows Young Adults Lack Vitamin D
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have recently discovered that many young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 are not getting an adequate amount of vitamin D, particularly during the winter months. They arrived at their conclusion after screening 165 men and women during March and April, at the end of winter, and 142 individuals during September and October, at the end of summer. 30% of the end-of-winter group was deficient in vitamin D compared to 11% of the end-of-summer group. The seasonal variation was strongest among the 18 to 29 year olds. This is a concern because vitamin D is known to help the body absorb calcium. Also, a vitamin D deficiency puts people at risk for osteoporosis as well as chronic bone and muscle pain and may also increase the risk of certain cancers. For more information go to The Source: American Journal of Medicine 2002;112:659-662.