Vitamin D, the "sunshine" drug is thought to prevent many cancers and diseases. Scientists recommend 25 micrograms (1000 IUs) a day, which is 2.5 times greater than the current RDA. Suntan lotion blocks the skins absorption of viitamin D so one has to strike a balance to get some sun while avoiding skin cancer.
The article lists the following diseases that may be prevented by vitamin D:
- Heart disease -Vitamin D works by lowering insulin resistance, which is one of the major factors leading to heart disease.
- Lung disease - Lung tissue undergoes repair and "remodelling" in life and, since vitamin D influences the growth of a variety of cell types, it may play a role in this lung repair process.
- Cancers (breast, colon, ovary, prostate) - Vitamin D is believed to play an important role in regulating the production of cells, a control that is missing in cancer. It has a protective effect against certain cancers by preventing overproduction of cells.
- Diabetes - In type 1 diabetes the immune system destroys its own cells. Vitamin D is believed to act as an immunosuppressant. Researchers believe it may prevent an overly aggressive response from the immune system.
- High blood pressure - Vitamin D is used by the parathyroid glands that sit on the thyroid gland in the neck. These secrete a hormone that regulates the body's calcium levels. Calcium, in turn, helps to regulate blood pressure, although the mechanism is not yet completely understood.
- Schizophrenia - The chance of developing schizophrenia could be linked to how sunny it was in the months before birth. A lack of sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiency, which scientists believe could alter the growth of a child's brain in the womb.
- Multiple sclerosis - Lack of vitamin D leads to limited production of 1.25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, the hormonal form of vitamin D3 which regulates the immune system, creating a risk for MS.
- Rickets and osteoporosis - The vitamin strengthens bones, protecting against childhood rickets and osteoporosis in the elderly.