Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Vitamin D Supplement is the Latest 'Wonder Pill'

Beta carotene and vitamin E both enjoyed brief reins as super-supplements (beta carotene for fighting cancer and vitamin E for stopping heart disease). But they were both yanked from the spotlight as broad studies discredited their potency.

Now vitamin D is stepping up to the throne as a growing stack of evidence indicates the vitamin may provide a wide range of benefits. Heralding the rise of vitamin D is a new article in the LA Times about vitamin called, "
Wonder Pill. Really."

According to the Times, vitamin D can, "ease aches and pains, strengthen bones, slow down cancer and prevent diseases as varied as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia." All that from one vitamin? That's Wonderful.

So how does vitamin D work? "It improves absorption of calcium, controls the growth of cells (both healthy and cancerous), strengthens the immune system and seems to rein in overzealous immune system cells that cause diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis," explained the LA Times piece. That's a lot of benefit from the unique compound called vitamin D.

Vitamin D is unique among vitamins for a couple of reasons. One, it's the only vitamin that your body can make on its own. That is, so long as you get enough sun. Your body needs ultraviolet radiation to create vitamin D.

Interestingly enough, people who have dark skin or live in sun-depraved regions have higher rates of cancer.

Vitamin D may prevent cancer by attaching to receptors in cancer cells and telling the cells to stop growing. That's part of vitamin D's other unique quality. After being ingested, your liver and kidneys turn vitamin D into a hormone that can "switch at least 200 genes on and off," reads the Times.

One recent study referenced by the Times piece found that, "cancer deaths were especially common in men with low levels of vitamin D."

For the record, it was once though that Vitamin D was only good for fighting rickets. While racing to combat that disease, German scientist Adolf Windaus discovered Vitamin D in 1926.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.