What we call vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that is essential for numerous
processes in the body. It is important for utilizing calcium to build and maintain strong
bones and teeth, for fighting infection, enhancing the self-destruction of mutated cells,
slowing the production and spread of cancer cells, and improving seizure control in
epileptics. Having adequate vitamin D levels reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes,
preterm births, the risk of respiratory and vaginal infections and gingivitis. There are
vitamin D receptors on most, if not all cells so it is likely that vitamin D is necessary for
more processes than we are aware of.
For reasons that we don't completely understand, most people who don’t supplement with vitamin D are deficient in it, even those who live in sunny places like Florida and Arizona. The rule of thumb to obtain Vitamin D from the sun is to expose your face and arms to the sun for 20 minutes per day, during a time when you are taller than your shadow. It is important to have your serum vitamin D level checked at least once per year. It appears that the optimal serum vitamin D level is between 50 and 60 ng/ml. A vitamin D level above 60ng/ml may increase the risk of certain cancers.
If you supplement, consider using emulsified Vitamin D3, as this is a form that is readily bioavailable. The Fort Collins
Food Coop carries several forms of Vitamin D, including an emulsified vitamin D. If you need to take more than
2000 IU per day, consider taking it in divided doses, since taking greater than 2000 IU at one time has been known
to cause acid reflux in some people.