Vitamin D: 7 things you should know….
Many people I’ve talked to in the last several months have been asking about vitamin D. Rightly so since every time I turn around it seems like new information is coming out regarding its associations with certain health conditions. Here are seven important things to know about vitamin D.
1. How much should I take?
It depends on your levels and how much you get in other supplements such as calcium and multivitamins. The Institute of Medicine recommends adults get at least 600 IU (international units) a day. Without monitoring, no more than 4000 IU should be taken daily.
2. How can I decide how much to take?
Talk to your doctor about having a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D level drawn. 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the precursor to the active form of the vitamin that the body uses. Normal ranges are 30 to 74 ng/mL (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003569.htm). Discuss with your doctor what your level should be and the way you will achieve that. There are over-the-counter supplements and a prescription option, if levels are extremely low.
3. Can I get vitamin D through sun exposure?
Our bodies make vitamin D when exposed to sun. How much your body makes depends on where you live, what time of year it is and how much you are in the sun. There’s debate about how much exposure is safe without increasing the risk of skin cancer.
4. Can I get vitamin D through food sources?
Vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods, usually in small amounts. Fish, eggs and fortified dairy products are common food sources. Eggs have approximately 41 IU and milk about 120 IU per serving. If a person needs to get 2000 IU per day, the food sources don’t add up quickly.
5. What are the risk factors for low vitamin D:
- Living in northern (or southern) latitudes, farther from the equator, therefore farther from direct sunlight, especially in winter months.
- Sunscreen usage or spending most time indoors and/or mostly covered
- Obesity and increased body fat d. Dark pigmentation of skin – the darker your skin the less sun you absorb and convert to vitamin D
6. What are the benefits of sufficient vitamin D intake and levels?
Vitamin D helps calcium get absorbed into the bones, has been studied to show a decrease in the risk of falls in elderly, shown a decrease in auto-immune diseases in patients with higher levels, decreases risk of heart disease and there’s research that shows higher vitamin D levels decreases the risk of cancer occurrence and death. Need more? New information is coming out every day.
7. But what about risks with vitamin D?
There is a risk of taking too much vitamin D and reaching toxic levels of >100 or 150 ng/ml. Discussing vitamin D intake and monitoring blood levels with your doctor is important. Toxic levels increase the risk of kidney stones.
[Also Read: 10 Ways to Health and Perfect Weight ]