The Power of Vitamin D

Critical for bone health, vitamin D is now being touted as a key inhibitor of cancer growth. And evidence shows the nutrient may raise the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. But research also finds that most people aren’t getting enough. It’s estimated that over 1 billion men, women, and children worldwide are deficient, with darker-skinned individuals and post-menopausal women most prone.

Boost your own D levels with these recommendations:

Get kissed by the sun. Conventional wisdom encourages lathering on sunscreen and wearing hats to avoid the UV rays associated with skin cancer. But while too much sunlight is taboo, the right amount can actually aid your health. In fact, recent studies suggest that sunshine can cut colon, breast, and prostate cancer risk thanks to the D delivery. Gradually introduce exposure, starting with 10 minutes during off-peak hours. Never stay long enough to burn. Some people can handle an hour, while others must retreat after 15 minutes.

Eat D-rich foods. Eggs, fatty fish like salmon or tuna, and fortified cereals and dairy products can help up your intake.

Supplement. A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that taking supplements decreased overall mortality by 7%. Your multivitamin is a good start, but especially if you’re in northern climates you’ll need to up the D. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist about the right sources and amounts of vitamin D for you.

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