Reports regarding supplement usage emerge in the media on a regular basis. Regardless of your take on things, one fact that cannot be disputed is that too many Americans have low levels of vitamin D. And no reputable authority would dispute the importance of vitamin D replacement in deficient patients. Even the notably conservative Institute of Medicine has recently increased the daily recommended dose of vitamin D from 400 IU to 600 IU per day.
I recently performed an observational study of 100 patients in my practice that detected low vitamin D levels in over 70% of them! It’s time to shine a light on the importance of this vitamin in your health.
Importance of Vitamin D
Studies have looked at the role of vitamin D and its relevance to many health outcomes like cardiovascular health, bone density, and even immune function. Optimizing levels could also support breast and colon health. Studies indicate that those patients with lowest levels of vitamin D appear to have the highest risk of related health issues.
Risk for Deficiency
Sun block may impair absorption and darker skin types may require more exposure. Certain groups are at even higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including breastfed infants (because human milk alone doesn’t provide enough) and adults over 50 yrs of age. Increased melanin in dark skin reduces its ability to produce the appropriate form of vitamin D from the sun. Even excessive fat in obese patients can block vitamin D and prevent release into the circulation.
Getting Your Daily Dose
A simple blood test can tell you if you are vitamin D deficient. Exposure to sunlight daily for 15-20 minutes could provide most people with adequate vitamin D but most people either lack the time or sun to do this. Vitamin D assists in calcium absorption. This is important for children as they grow to build healthy bones and teeth.
Most researchers in the area of vitamin D supplementation recommend 1,000 IU per day of vitamin D3 (most active form) for adults. Deficient patients require more.
Very few foods contain enough vitamin D and as a result most people don’t consume enough by diet alone. The following foods contain vitamin D:
- orange juice
- egg yolks
- beef liver
From the Doc