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How Vitamin D Works

Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D has a number of important uses -- important enough, in fact, to inspire the United States to fortify milk with it in order to prevent diseases like rickets. There are a number of ways Vitamin D works once it enters the body, and a number of ways it helps regulate bodily functions and assists in nutrient absorption.

Research shows that many types of cancer cells have places on them for the active form of vitamin D to bind. When vitamin D binds there, replication of the cancer cells slows down. But because excess vitamin D is very toxic, it's difficult to use vitamin D therapeutically to treat cancer, except in research settings.

However, having some sun exposure daily to keep vitamin D levels up has been shown to reduce the risk for colon cancer. Just don't overdo the tanning -- skin cancer is strongly associated with sunburn!

Vitamin D helps build strong bones.
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Vitamin D regulates whether minerals are deposited into bones or withdrawn
from them, preventing soft or weak bones.

Vitamin D is helpful in preventing osteoporosis. When given along with calcium supplements, vitamin D is able to signal the bones to hold onto their calcium rather than release it.

Vitamin D may also play a role in protecting people from
multiple sclerosis. This disease is so much more common in northern climates that researchers are studying whether vitamin D deficiency increases the risk for developing this disease.

Topically applied, vitamin D may be helpful for psoriasis by limiting the growth of abnormal skin cells. Topical vitamin D for psoriasis is available only by prescription and can be quite expensive.
Other uses for vitamin D include reducing the symptoms of some forms of
arthritis and maybe even helping to reduce the risk for insulin-dependent diabetes in young children.

If you're not getting enough vitamin D daily, you can increase your intake through taking supplements. In the next section, we'll discuss what types of supplements exist and how to know if you need to up your vitamin D dosage.

While sunlight is one way to obtain vitamin D, it's not the only way. Many foods contain vitamin D -- some, such as milk, have even been fortified with it. In the next section, we'll learn which foods are the best sources of vitamin D.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.