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Vitamin D: The rock star vitamin

Category: General Wellness

While most people understand that they should get blood tests or lab tests to help screen for any serious diseases, they may not understand that they also need these tests to make sure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals. For example, it's important to have enough iron and calcium, and it's very crucial for people to learn their vitamin D levels. This important vitamin has been hailed as a rock star in the healthcare community for the past few years, as studies continue to show how important it is.

Recently, Science News published an article with a quick overview of all of the important studies that have been conducted in the past year that show just how key vitamin D is to overall health.

A very important nutrient
The news source started by pointing out a study published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, which shows that children who have healthy vitamin D levels had a 47 percent reduced risk of developing cavities than those who do not get enough of this nutrient. This is extremely important, since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that cavities remain the most common chronic disease affecting children between the ages of 6 and 11, even though they are largely preventable. These findings suggest that making sure that kids have healthy vitamin D levels though blood tests could be one way to help keep their teeth in good shape.

Another study Science News cited was from the journal Nutritional Influences on Bone Health. It found that adults taking calcium supplements experienced a decrease in blood pressure when they also consumed vitamin D supplements. High blood pressure is one of the factors that influences metabolic syndrome - a condition that may lead to cardiovascular disease.

Smokers should also consider taking the time to check their vitamin D levels, since a Danish study published in the journal Clinical Chemistry showed that this nutrient may help with tobacco-related cancers. The researchers examined nearly 10,000 people and found that those with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have a tobacco-related cancer than those who did not have sufficient amount of this nutrient.

Finally, an analysis of military service members found that those with very low vitamin D levels were more likely to commit suicide than those with healthy levels. This finding correlates with past research showing that the vitamin has been associated with a decreased risk of developing depression.

What does it do?
All of these studies point to surprising benefits of vitamin D, but there are many benefits that have been well-known for decades. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. However, that's not the only job this important vitamin has. The NIH explains that muscles also need it in order to move, and nerves require vitamin D to carry messages between the brain and body. It's also necessary to promote proper functioning of the immune system.

Most people get their vitamin D through sun exposure. When the body is exposed to the sun, it's able to synthesize vitamin D. However, spending to much time in the sun's UV rays could increase a person's risk of developing skin cancer. Furthermore, not everyone lives in areas where there is a lot of sunlight. Because of this, people should consider taking vitamin D supplements, and consuming foods that contain this nutrient such as fortified cereals and milk, salmon, sardines mushrooms, tuna and eggs. People should also regularly test their vitamin D levels.

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