Vitamin D deficiency is more common than many people would think. People who live in the northern hemisphere tend to get less sun exposure in the winter months and hence may fall short of Vitamin D. Depending on one’s lifestyle, D may be something that is lacking without our knowledge and we are not at our best because of it.
Since Vitamin D has been in the news more often the last few years, many people are supplementing their diets with it. Even with supplements, your level could be lower than what you require. The only sure way to know if you are deficient is to have a blood test.
Our bodies create Vitamin D innately when our skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun. Once exposed to sunlight, the D is passed to the kidneys where it is converted into a more viable form that we can utilize and store. So you can understand that if we are using sun protection in the summer months and remain indoors more often – coupled with shorter days in the winter months – why we may need to supplement our Vitamin D.
D assists in absorbing and using calcium and phosphorus, it eases inflammation and it could have a positive effect on our immune system but the jury is out on that. Tests have shown a link between children with healthy Vitamin D levels and a decrease in juvenile diabetes cases.
There has been some talk that people who live with continuous pain find some relief after taking vitamin D, others have reported better sleep patterns and still some claim to experience fewer episodes of depressive behavior after taking vitamin D. No clinical data yet exists to back up these conclusions.
Could the sunshine experienced on summer or winter southern vacations be why most people feel so great following a holiday? Perhaps not everyone will have the same experience regarding vitamin D intake but like many drugs today, if you are lacking in it you will feel better after taking it.
Time was when many kids were required to have their dose of cod liver oil – it contains vitamin D – as a defense against contracting rickets, caused by a deficiency in D vitamin. Manufacturers began to add vitamin D to numerous dairy products so people would get their daily allowance.
A suitable measured quantity of vitamin D for those folks under fifty is 200 international units [IU] daily. However, studies indicate that this quantity might be on the low side. Many researchers of vitamin D have questioned current dose rates and have banded together to press government to reestablish the value of D vitamin from current levels.
Children especially are in need of higher dosages of D so they can ward off diseases. The American Academy of Pediatricians suggests that babies who are solely breast fed need to receive a D supplement of 400 IU per day from their birth. When they are weaned onto a formula it too should contain D vitamin at least until they turn one year old and begin to drink quantities of milk that will provide the D they need.
There is a lack of research being conducted on vitamin D that would enable changes to recommended dosages. This despite the fact that there is more information that is newsworthy on Vitamin D making its way to the public. So, as we wait to hear from the experts on the doses we should take or supplementation requirements, what is a person to do about their vitamin D intake?
- Number one, we should be sure we eat a diet that is laden with vitamin D if at all possible. This means ingesting cold water fish [generally fatty fish like feral salmon, halibut and cod], eggs and foods fortified with D such as milk, it has 100 IU of vitamin D per glass.
Northern and coastal communities tend to eat more fish so the levels of vitamin D are higher than other districts. Fresh fish in a diet is a great source of D and short of that, taking fish oil pills will provide some vitamin D and add other essential vitamins and minerals, antioxidants etc. Be careful of fish oil supplements like cod liver oil since they have high levels of A vitamin, which could be problematic.
When dietary shuffling does not quite do the trick, it is recommended that adults supplement their diets with vitamin D3 up to a minimum of 1000 IU per day. For instance, a majority of multi vitamins already has about 4-500 IU of D2 or D3; people use up more D3 regularly. Individuals who work outdoors or take part in outside activities often will need to have less D in summer months. Do not go without sunscreen in summer simply to augment your D vitamin, risk of cancer trumps vitamin D intake so be prudent.
As mentioned earlier, your physician can test you for vitamin D levels so speak to your primary health care provider about you and your families more specific requirements of D vitamin. If you over do D vitamin, it can be dangerous like so many other things. Vitamin D is stored in fatty regions and you can “overstore” it if you are not careful.
Positive results from taking vitamin D can be noticeable but what is not known is if the improvement is due to supplementation of D or the lifestyle choices made which get us to those levels. These include eating healthier, exercise and increased outdoor activity and even controlling your body weight. These all have an impact on general well being and vitamin D may play a smaller role – it remains a mystery. It should be understood by anyone who takes supplementation that these alone will not be able to replace a normally healthy lifestyle.
When you decide to take a vitamin D supplement you should follow the daily recommended dosage, try, and determine an appropriate quantity based on what you are getting from your diet. Remember if it makes you feel better while taking it, you probably needed it in the first place. Specifically as you age and reach the pivotal age of fifty, you may find you are deficient in D and a supplementation will make you feel twenty years younger!