Vitamin D -- affectionately called "Sunny D', since sunlight is our primary source-- is undoubtedly the hottest nutrient these days, so it is no surprise The New York Times is dedicating more space to it today.
Not only is its importance in a variety of body functions consistently becoming more clear, traditional recommendations suggesting a daily intake of 400 International Units are being questioned.
Recent research has led dietitians to establish a much-higher 1,000 International Units as the desired daily intake.
Since Vitamin D is found very scarcely in foods (a cup of fortified milk provides 100 IU's), it is one of the few nutrients I highly recommend people who do not get enough sun (either because of winters with little hours of sunlight or because of the use of UV protection creams) supplement in pill form.
Research studies showing the benefits of sufficient Vitamin D intake is a dime a dozen:
"A Swiss study of women in their 80s found greater leg strength and half as many falls among those who took 800 I.U. of vitamin D a day for three months along with 1,200 milligrams of calcium, compared with women who took just calcium. Greater strength and better balance have been found in older people with high blood levels of vitamin D."
And then there's this one:
"Researchers at Creighton University in Omaha conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial... among 1,179 community-living, healthy postmenopausal women. They reported last year in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that over the course of four years, those taking calcium and 1,100 I.U. of vitamin D3 each day developed about 80 percent fewer cancers than those who took just calcium or a placebo."
According to current estimates, as much as 60 percent of the United States adult population is Vitamin D deficient -- and that's based on the starting-to-be-considered-low 400 IU figure!