Increasing vitamin D intake may help people reduce their risk of diabetes and heart disease. That is according to a new study from the UK’s University of Warwick. Researchers there found low vitamin D levels to be associated with a high prevalence of metabolic syndrome, which is characterized By a combination of abdominal obesity, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance and body inflammation. These factors can sometimes be reduced By increasing exercise and weight loss. But, experts say, adding more vitamin D also might help. Vitamin D is called the ‘sunshine vitamin” since it is produced when the skin absorbs the sun’s rays. But just sitting in the sun is not recommended because of skin-cancer risks. Wearing sunscreen with a high SPF (skin protection factor) may protect you, but it prevents your skin from absorbing the vitamin D producing rays. Also, people with dark skin pigmentation may need 20-30 times as much exposure to sunlight as fair-skinned people to generate the same amount of vitamin D. So, what can you do?
• Eat vitamin D-rich foods, including fatty fish (like salmon and halibut) and fortified dairy products (like egg yolks and milk).
• Your healthcare provider can test your vitamin D levels though a simple blood test. A reading below 30 ng/mL indicates a deficiency. Curious as to whether you have a D deficiency? Ask your doctor to include this test at your next office visit.