Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEWORLEANS- Decades of research and thousands of studies find it's something not in your diet that may be making you fat and putting you at a higher risk for cancers.

More than three-quarters of Americans are known to be deficient in this supplement.

It sounds too good to be true, but studies show one ingredient helps build stronger bones, regulate digestive and hormonal systems, fight depression and elevate mood, boost your immune system and fight off prostate and breast cancer.

'It's one of the most important hormones, and it truly is a hormone. It's not a vitamin,' said Dr. Henri Roca, a former LSU Health Sciences Center doctor who is now at Greenwich Hospital where he is the Medical Director of Integrative Medicine.

The hormone vitamin D, is made in our bodies by strong midday sun exposure, but with the changing atmosphere, extreme heat and tremendous rise in skin cancers and skin damage - known as photo aging - we now need protective sunscreen. So our vitamin D must come from foods, such as fortified yogurt, orange juice, cereal, and naturally in cold water fish such as salmon and tuna. You can also get it from supplements.

The latest studies show if you get enough vitamin D and calcium you could potentially lose six times the weight as people who diet alone.

'It's going to change how receptive the body is to insulin, and so it is a key modulator in how the body deals with sugar and insulin. And that's it's connection to weight loss,' explained Dr. Roca.

Not only does it help your body burn, rather than store fat, but it also works on receptors in the brain to keep hunger and cravings more normal. Roca says a vitamin D blood test is crucial. It's called 25-hydroxy vitamin D or 25-OH D. He aims for blood levels around 50 international units in his patients. But he stresses, more is not better.

'For people who's levels are greater than 50 there is a slight uptick, uptick in the rate of pancreatic cancer,' Dr. Roca said.

Go very high, and your calcium and parathyroid hormone could be negatively affected too, although that is rare.

Calcium works with vitamin D to burn fat, so in general 'The Vitamin D Diet' recommends 600 international units of vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. But check with your doctor and get a blood test.

A new study suggests that people who take calcium supplements higher than 1,100 milligrams a day may increase their risk of a heart attack. People who ate a moderate amount of calcium daily had a lower risk of heart attacks than people who got too little. So always keep in mind that too much or too little of either supplement can cause health problems. Aim for balance and let your doctor guide you. Dark-skinned people are usually more vitamin D deficient.

For a phone consultation with Dr. Roca on all supplements:

He finds that most people usually need 1,000 IU's a day but it is all individualized. Six nutrients for faster weight loss:

Meg's personal note:

I take all of these supplements and I also add in Green Tea supplements for the antioxidant and thermogenic (calorie burning) effect. I also take a packet of Juven a day after my workout to help repair and spare lean muscle mass.

Keep in mind that beginning in early adulthood, around the late 20's, we all start losing muscle which keeps us lean, strong and revs up our fat burning metabolism. That is why it is so important, especially for women, to do strength or resistance training along with cardio.

I do full body weight lifting along with my cardio of walking, jogging, high intensity interval sprinting, boxing, stair climbing and boot camp workout.

My doctor also has me on my body identical, non-oral, female hormone replacement therapy of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and my blood is closely monitored to always be in the right range.

I never let my body sustain all the damage of going through menopause and lacking those three key hormones that are protective against so many terrible health problems including dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cancers, bone loss and osteoporosis, muscle loss, eye problems, teeth loss, skin drying and wrinkling, urinary infections, and the list goes on and on.

The ones that work are patches, gels, injections or pellet implants, giving your cells all the 'ingredients' they need to function properly. Your doctor will decide which delivery system works for you. I am on patches and gels.

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