Vitamin D has received a lot of
attention in recent years, and many physicians are talking with their patients
about Vitamin D deficiency. New guidelines for how much Vitamin D people need
to stay healthy were released in November 2010 from the Institute of Medicine.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone that regulates the absorption and metabolism
of calcium and phosphorous, helping to form and maintain strong bones. Vitamin
D is active throughout the body, and ongoing research is investigating its role
in health and disease.
Vitamin D is naturally present in
very few foods, added to others (fortified foods), and available as dietary
supplements. It is also produced in the body when ultraviolet (UV) rays contact
the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis, which is why some people have concluded
that they need more UV exposure to get enough Vitamin D. However, exposure to
UV rays is a major risk factor for melanoma and other skin cancers. UV rays
(from the sun or tanning beds) penetrate the skin, damaging the skin and
causing genetic mutations that can lead to cancer.
MRA encourages individuals to beware
of the dangers of UV exposure and advises that people do not need to put
themselves at risk of melanoma and other skin cancers to get vitamin D. If you
and your doctor decide you are not getting enough Vitamin D, oral supplements
offer a safe alternative source of vitamin D without carcinogenic risk.
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