You’ve seen it mentioned on your milk carton: “with Vitamin D”, “Vitamin D enriched”. In fact almost all milk you purchase at the supermarket or health food store contains dietary supplemental Vitamin D. But have you ever really thought about WHY this vitamin is added to your milk? Until recently, there hasn’t been much attention given to the importance of Vitamin D in the diet. But it IS important, and we’ll tell you why.
First, Vitamin D is essential in helping your body absorb the calcium in milk. It promotes calcium absorption in the intestines, helps support calcium absorption in the bones, maintains proper calcium and phosphate levels for bone formation and allows proper function of the parathyroid hormone to sustain adequate serum calcium levels. In short, without Vitamin D, you will not get the essential benefits of the calcium from your diet or nutritional supplements.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in proper immune function. It not only enhances the activity of natural killer cells, fighting foreign bacteria and viruses, but it also helps prevent dangerous autoimmune activity by activating a histocompatibility gene which is necessary to differentiate between the body and invading bacteria and viruses. One study even linked Vitamin D deficiency to multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system.
Finally, Vitamin D is being investigated for its role in reducing incidence of heart disease, cancer and deadly respiratory diseases. Using information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey a large scale study found that having low levels of Vitamin D was linked to an increase in all-cause mortality in the general population.
Vitamin D can be found in milk products purchased from supermarkets or health food stores and in nutritional supplements. Vitamin D is also synthesized in the skin from sun exposure, but be sure to check with your health care professional about healthy sun exposure for your individual skin type.
Do you current take Vitamin D? If so what benefits have you experienced?