Health & Fitness

The docs: The ‘D’ you can’t live without

Some folks say they couldn’t live without the music of Dee Snider (of Twisted Sister) or Dee Clark (he sang “Raindrops”). And while we understand the sentiment, the Dee you really can’t live without is vitamin D-3.

This powerful nutrient is found in wild-caught salmon, sardines, cod and egg yolks. It’s added to cereals and to regular, soy, almond and walnut milk. The body produces bioactive derivatives of it when ultraviolet rays trigger biological processes in the skin, liver and kidneys. Vitamin D-3 promotes calcium absorption and strengthens bones, modulates cell growth, aids immune strength and neuromuscular functions, and reduces inflammation. But a deficiency ups your risk for cancers, autoimmune diseases, brittle bones, infectious diseases, and cardiac and brain disorders.

That should encourage folks to get the D-3 they need. But up to 86 percent of North Americans may be D-ficient, the highest numbers are among African-Americans. Aging also affects D levels: A 70-year-old’s ability to make vitamin D is slashed by 75 percent! Excess fat cells also keep D from circulating throughout the body.

So if you’re not getting 10 minutes of sun exposure without sunscreen and not taking 1,000 IU of D-3 daily (take more if your doc says so; maybe even D-2, but that’s a discussion for next week), here’s another reason to get more D: A British study found that most folks with irritable bowel syndrome are deficient, but that 3,000 IU of D-3 daily can seriously improve quality of life. That’s D-lightful news for the 25-45 million IBS sufferers in North America!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit