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Vitamin D is desirable

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 8/14/2014, 1:07 p.m.

Recently, an increase in the intake of vitamin D has been reported to prevent early deaths by heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Although exactly how much vitamin D should be taken on a daily basis is not certain, at least 600 international units is suggested. Vitamin D is found abundantly in such foods as milk, salt water fish and cod liver oil. I can recall upon leaving home for school, my mom would have a tablespoon of cod liver oil waiting for me as I exited the door.

To say the least, it wasn’t a pleasant taste. However, it did give me a taste of good health as a child. I believe that children today would have fewer colds and other infections if this practice were continued. Many flavorful cod liver oil preparations are now on the market. I am sure that the Eskimos are truly enjoying good health from the omega-3 oils that are found in their diet, which consists of vitamin D-laden fish.

Vitamin D is activated by sunlight, however, and at least 40 percent of the body must be exposed to these rays. During the winter months, when one is not exposed to adequate sunlight, a deficiency of this vitamin prevails.

Years ago, hospitalized patients would often be exposed to sunlight by having their beds rolled to a well-lit balcony. This practice ensured a quicker recovery from multiple medical conditions. I have often suggested that hospitalized patients be exposed to light provided by a light box that duplicates the sun’s rays. By this exposure, the patient can remain inside and receive the same benefits.

Vitamin D is also essential for the transport of calcium from the gut to maintain a healthy bone structure. A daily supplement of 1000 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium is suggested.

Another recent report that African-Americans have a lower level of vitamin D in their bodies. This deficiency may be one reason for the greater prevalence of cancer in the Black community. Unexplained lower back pain has also been documented when vitamin D levels are low. Your physician should therefore obtain blood levels of vitamin D to ensure that you have an adequate supply of this essential nutrient.