Vitamin D has emerged as the star supplement because of its many nutritional benefits for both men and women. Vitamin D plays a key role in the proper absorption of calcium for strong bones and teeth and has been shown to support colon, breast, prostate, ovarian, heart and colorectal health. This important vitamin also enhances immune system strength in adults. Unfortunately, too many Americans are not getting enough of this star supplement.

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the widespread deficiency of vitamin D among Americans is more detrimental than once believed, increasing the risk of fractures, muscle weakness, osteoarthritis, and even cancer as we age. Recent evidence has indicated a reemergence of vitamin D deficient rickets and an alarming prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in particular segments of the U.S. More than 40% of American adults have low blood levels of vitamin D. A study conducted in Boston found a high degree of vitamin D deficiency in white (30%), Hispanic (42%), and Afro-American (84%) elderly people. Another study found that 38% of nursing home residents were vitamin D deficient. Because the typical symptoms are aching bones and muscle discomfort, vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) recently adopted 12 new policies associated with public health issues, with vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency being a leading concern. APHA's new policies seek to support the major public health concerns for both children and adults in the United States. APHA's focus on vitamin D deficiency follows other leading health care organizations in addressing this concern. In the past year, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dermatology have all issued position statements or communication efforts stressing the need for increased intake of vitamin D.

Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight. It takes months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body's vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin whose primary role in the body is that it is necessary for the absorption of calcium and bone health. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium. Vitamin D is found in some food sources and is synthesized in the skin after exposure to sunlight. For most Americans, sunlight provides the best source of our vitamin D requirements because we eat few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, oily fish (salmon, herring, and sardines in oil), egg yolks and fortified milk.

Many Americans don't meet the minimum requirement of sun exposure of 5-10 minutes a day/three times a week. Certain populations are lactose-intolerant and can not tolerate dairy products, such as milk fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is even more pronounced among people living in northern parts of the country, such as Seattle and New England states, especially in the winter. Obesity is yet another cause of vitamin D deficiency. In obese people, even with adequate amounts of dietary vitamin D and sun exposure, the vitamin becomes unavailable because it is stored in the large amount of body fat.

Until recently, healthcare professionals advised people to avoid sun exposure altogether and regarded vitamin D deficiency as far less important, believing that the danger of low vitamin D levels was mainly an increased risk of fractures among the elderly and a rare disease called rickets among children. But recent research has shown that older people with adequate vitamin D levels have better muscle control, lower blood pressure, and fewer diseases such as arthritis and multiple sclerosis, compared with those with lower vitamin D levels.

The current recommendation for vitamin D is 400 IU a day. However, scientists and vitamin D researchers are now recommending increasing the daily consumption of vitamin D to 1,000 IU a day. Supplements, fortified foods and exposure to sunlight are an effective way of improving levels of vitamin D.

Recognizing that vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are major public health concerns for both children and adults in the United States, Nature Made was the first multivitamin line to include 1,000 I.U. vitamin D supplements to ensure consumers could meet their dietary requirements for this important vitamin. For easy absorption and use, Nature Made offers Liquid Softgel Vitamin D 1,000 I.U. Most multivitamins offer only the basic level (400 I.U.) of this nutrient in their formulas, but Nature Made Multivitamins with Optimized Nutrient Levels include 1000 I.U. of vitamin D, the level required for more optimal health.

Vitamin D is available in two forms, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. All Nature Made vitamins and multivitamins provide high-strength vitamin D in the D3 form, which is more potent and active than the D2. One tablet of Nature Made Vitamin D 1,000 I.U. is equivalent to the amount of vitamin D in 5 cans of tuna (3 oz. cans), or 10 cups of fortified milk, or 50 egg yolks, or 25 cups of fortified cereal.

If you currently have a health condition or have concerns about vitamin D, talk to your physician or healthcare provider before taking a vitamin D supplement.

Source: Naturemade