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Natural Awakenings

Vitamin D Makes News: Daily Dose of Sunshine has Big Health Benefits

Jul 01, 2010 03:00AM

Vitamin D is one of the few vitamins our body can produce itself when bare skin is exposed to ultraviolet B light. But this sunshine vitamin that is known to influence the immune system seems to be in short supply, and mounting studies point to serious health risks that can result from a vitamin D deficiency.

According to researchers at National Jewish Health, a leading respiratory hospital, low levels of vitamin D have been associated with decreased lung function and greater use of medications in children with asthma, as well as increased occurrence of a common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age.

Now, a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health suggests that women living in northern states are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting a link between the autoimmune disease and vitamin D deficiency. Meanwhile, research at the University of Warwick Medical School has shown that middle-aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent.

To ensure that our body produces enough vitamin D to keep us healthy, experts suggest that we expose ourselves to 15 to 18 minutes of sunshine daily. Eating foods that contain small amounts of vitamin D, such as fish, mushrooms, eggs and dairy products, also helps to keep our vitamin D levels up.

Contributing sources: www.Medscape.com and www.nih.gov

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