THE IMPORTANCE OF VITAMIN D
The importance of Vitamin D to long term wellness cannot be overstated.
- 75% of the population is Vitamin D deficient
- Vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic
- 80% – 90% is Vitamin D is obtained through exposure to sunlight
- SPF 15 cuts skin’s Vitamin D production by 99%
- 6 days of casual sun exposure can make up for 49 days of no sun
- Stored in fatty fat and released when sunlight is gone
- Effective for low levels of phosphate, low blood calcium, softening of the bones, psoriasis, certain bone disorders, Rickets and vitamin D deficiency.
- The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends vitamin D 400 IU to 800 IU daily for adults under age 50, and 800 IU to 1000 IU daily for older adults.
- The North American Menopause Society recommends 700 IU to 800 IU daily for women at risk of deficiency due to low sun (e.g., homebound, northern latitude) exposure.
- Guidelines from the Osteoporosis Society of Canada recommend vitamin D 400 IU per day for people up to age 50, and 800 IU per day for people over 50. Osteoporosis Canada now recommends 400-1000 IU daily for adults under the age of 50 years and 800-2000 IU daily for adults over the age of 50 years.
- The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1000 IU/day during the fall and winter for adults in Canada. For those with a higher risk of having low vitamin D levels, this dose should be taken year round. This includes people who have dark skin, usually wear clothing that covers most of their skin, and people who are older or who don’t go outside often.
- Many experts now recommend using vitamin D supplements containing cholecalciferol in order to meet these intake levels. This seems to be more potent than another form of vitamin D called ergocalciferol.
Vitamin D has been one of the more well studied of the vitamins and minerals. It has an extremely complex and still misunderstood Brett of impact on a bodies long-term health. At least in the Western world, it is been suggested that more than 75% of the population is deficient in vitamin D. This number is exaggerated in certain ethnicities where they exhibit in even greater number of people who lack this important vitamin.
Certain categories of people are at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. Those include people who suffer from milk allergies, adhere to a strict vegan diet, or have very little exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is produced in the body in response to exposure of skin to sunlight while it occurs naturally in certain foods, including some fish oils and egg yokes, our modern diet generally lack sufficient vitamin D to satisfy our metabolic needs. Compounding the problem, is the fact that through combination of indoor lifestyle and sunscreen, we don’t have sufficient sun exposure for our bodies to create vitamin D. Up to 90% of what the body gets is obtained through exposure to sunlight.
As researchers are discovering, Vitamin D is essential for a variety of metabolic processes in addition to those we were taught in school, i.e, strong bones. Vitamin D helps helps the body use calcium from the diet and is also required for other metabolic processes. As a result, research is revealing the importance of vitamin D in protecting against a host of health problems.
Common Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Insufficient consumption of vitamin D
- Often caused by the diet that lacks the proper sources. The strict vegan diet, for example, places a person at risk because most of the natural sources of vitamin D are animal-based because most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, fortified milk, and beef liver.
- Insufficient exposure to sunlight.
- Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, certain population groups are at high risk, including those that are homebound, incarcerated, live in northern latitudes, wear long clothing or headwear, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure. the broad use of sunscreen plays a significant role in our reduction in our skins ability to create vitamin D.
- SPF 15, for example, reduces our conversion rate by as much as 99%. Even while one thinks they’re getting sufficient sun exposure, the prevalence of sunscreens and makeup and face cream is sufficient to create levels of deficiency as we see today.
- Darker skin creates risk.
- Melanin, a skin pigment, reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Studies have demonstrated that adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Insufficient kidney function for converting Vitamin D to its active form. The aged population is at increased risk for this reason.
- Insufficient digestive tract absorption.
- Obesity is a major contributor to Vitamin D deficiency. Those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D because fat cells uptake the Vitamin D from the bloodstream making it less available for metabolic use.
Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency
Often, the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are subtle. One does not need bone pain, soft bones, or Rickets as an overt signal that one is deficient. Low blood levels of vitamin D have been associated with cognitive impairment and asthma in children. Researchers are studying the link between vitamin D and the role it could play a role in the prevention and treatment of type1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis and possibly even certain cancer types.
Tests for Vitamin D Deficiency
The most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency
Treatment for vitamin D deficiency is generally quite simple. There are only two choices:
- Spend more time in the sun, or
- Ingest more vitamin D through diet and supplements.
There is a broad range of recommended vitamin D levels required for optimal health. At least in North America, the The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1000 IU/day during the fall and winter for adults in Canada. For those with a higher risk of having low vitamin D levels, this dose should be taken year round. Individual requirements will depend on age and health conditions, diet and lifestyle, but a concentration of less than 20 nanograms per milliliter is generally considered inadequate, requiring treatment.
Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine increased the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D to 600 international units (IU) for everyone ages 1-70, and raised it to 800 IU for adults older than age 70 to optimize bone health. The safe upper limit was also raised to 4,000 IUs.
If you have some of the risk factors mentioned above, or always are careful to cover your skin, consider getting a blood test and letting a medical professional evaluate the results.
1. Have you checked your vitamin D levels recently? If so, did you start a supplement program right away?