Higher vitamin D intake is associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, according to research done at the Angers University Hospital in France. Another recent study at the VA medical center in Minneapolis found that low vitamin D levels among older women are associated with a higher risk of cognitive impairment and a higher risk of cognitive decline. Both studies were published in the Dec. 3, 2012 issue of the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone that is made in the skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. The problem is, if you live at a latitude of 42 degrees (a line approximately between the northern border of California and Boston) the sun’s rays are too low between November and February for your skin to get the sunlight needed for cutaneous vitamin D synthesis.
If you live at latitude below 34 degrees north (a line between Lost Angeles and Columbia, South Carolina) your body can make vitamin D from sun exposure yearlong, if you get at least 15 minutes of mid-day sun exposure on bare skin every day.
Coloradoans Need vitamin D3 Supplementation
The latitude of Denver is 39° so it’s important to supplement your diet with vitamin D3, especially since so few foods contain it.
Which foods contain vitamin D3?
Salmon, tuna, sardines, milk, and fortified cereals provide more than 100 IUs per serving. And mushroom is the only food in the produce section that has vitamin D.
But consider how much of each of these foods you’d have to eat in order to get the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of 200 IUs for people up to 50 years of age, 400 IUs for people between 51 and 70, and 600 IUs for over 70s years. And according to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition (March 9, 2009) adults need at least four times the current recommended dose of vitamin D.
Why is Vitamin D so important?
Through the research done by Dr. Michael Holick (the world’s leading expert on vitamin D) we know that every body cell has a receptor for vitamin D, which is why it is so crucial to overall health. Vitamin D is most commonly known for helping the digestive system absorb calcium and phosphorus. In that way it helps the body build and maintain healthy bones. But it does much more.
Adequate vitamin D is necessary for reducing the risk for bone disease. Vitamin D is believed to play a role in the reduction of falls, as well as reducing pain, autoimmune diseases, cancer, heart disease, mortality and, as indicated by the cited studies that appear in the Journals of Gerontology Series A, supporting cognitive function.