April 2010 Issue

Vitamin D-Fense Against Disease

Vitamin D is in the spotlight these days. You probably already know that this vitamin helps your body absorb calcium to maintain strong bones; but what you might not be aware of is the astonishing variety of benefits "the sunshine vitamin" holds. Vitamin D played an important role in human health back in early history. "One billion years ago, the sea was a bubbling fertile soup; phytoplankton synthesized vitamin D and there was plenty of calcium for bones. But as life forms evolved on terra firma and there was no calcium available on land, exposure to sunlight on the skin allowed calcium to be stored for skeletons," says Michael Holick, Ph.D., M.D., renowned vitamin D expert and professor at Boston University School of Medicine, who spoke at the 6th Annual Nutrition and Health Conference: State of the Science & Clinical Applications in Chicago on May 12, 2009. Our ancestors’ skin evolved in order to make vitamin D. Darker skin manufactures lower levels of vitamin D from the sun, so early humans developed lighter skin as they traveled north, away from the sun, to darker regions.

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