Q: Is vitamin D the wonder supplement people say it is?
A: Vitamin D has been nicknamed the "sunshine vitamin" because the body can make vitamin D from sunlight. Most people can get adequate vitamin D by being exposed to the sun for 15 to 30 minutes a day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. However, vitamin D deficiency is common in healthy individuals with limited exposure to sunlight and/or low consump-tion of vitamin D-rich foods like salmon. People who smoke and/or are overweight also may have low vitamin D levels (less than 20 ng/ml). Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with greater occurrence and increased severity of multiple sclerosis, and low levels also have been linked to increased occurrence of breast and colon cancer. So far, vitamin D supplementation has not been shown to prevent many of the conditions associated with lack of the vitamin. Current guidelines suggest adults may need 2,000 units or more every day. Research into this subject continues; for now, if you must take a vitamin, consider vitamin D.
- Dr. Victor O. Kolade, University; Medical Associates, member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
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