- Nutritional Vitamins & Supplements
Vitamin D Recommendations
Vitamin D Supplement
Every few years a health supplement, vitamin, or mineral becomes famous for curing everything from the common cold to cancer. Sales skyrocket until the next fad hits, and then the next wave of health claims begins. Vitamin D has received a lot of press lately, because many studies have shown significant benefits are achieved when vitamin D levels are sufficiently increased. This article will look at numerous fact-based studies to determine whether the hype is accurate or exaggerated. Is vitamin D worthy of the press it has received, and should you take it? If you should take it, what dose is safe? These questions, along with ongoing vitamin D studies are the focus of this article.
Vitamin D Supplements: The Vitamin D Disease Connection
Vitamin D Recommended Dose
When I was little, I remember hearing my grandmother say, “A danger! Don’t take vitamin A or D!” Both vitamin A and vitamin D are fat or oil-soluble vitamins. Basically, this means that, unlike most other vitamins, these vitamins can be stored in your body, and it is very possible for you to overdose by taking too much. My grandmother realized this, and she was trying to warn me about the potential to do just that. Ironically, we were always told to drink our milk. The practice of adding vitamin D to milk began in the 1930’s, so we were taking vitamin D. That being said, recent studies have shown that the vitamin D content of milk is very inconsistent, sometimes being low and other times being too high.
Vitamin D is an odd vitamin, because it can be manufactured by the body. Your dermatologist has probably warned you about getting too much sun. We’ve been told to cover up, stay out of the sun during peak hours, and use sunscreen. With skin cancer being so prevalent in some areas of the country, that’s probably very good advice when it comes to protecting your skin from the damaging rays of the sun. Unfortunately, this may result in decreased vitamin D production. Vitamin D is actually made in the skin, but this only occurs when UVB rays are present, typically when you do not protect yourself from the damaging potential of the sun. When my grandmother told me not to take vitamin D, she was probably giving sound advice. Sunscreens weren’t very effective back then, and few of us took care to stay out of the sun or cover up. Consequently, our bodies were probably storing a lot of the vitamin D that was being created in our skin.
The Federal Drug Administration has set what they consider to be adequate levels to promote health. Assuming that your body has produced absolutely no vitamin D from the sun, the FDA, regardless of sex or race, suggests that you should ingest the following amounts of Vitamin D on a daily basis:
Birth to 50 years 200 IU* (IU stands for international units)
51-70 years 400 IU
71+ years 600 IU
* The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU for children.
Vitamin D Research
Studies Support Vitamin D Intake
One study suggests that vitamin D intake, when taken early in life, may significantly increase calcium absorption and result in a reduced number of women being diagnosed with osteoporosis in later years.
One study suggested that taking up to 1,000 IU per day could lower the chance of colon cancer by as much as 50%. This 2006 study was significant, because it involved approximately 4 million cancer patients. That same study suggested that the same dose might reduce breast and ovarian cancer rates by as much as 30%
One study suggested that taking up to 400 Iu per day might lower the chance of getting pancreatic cancer by as much as 43%. This 2006 study was significant, because it involved over 120,000 people.
A twenty-nine year study, beginning in 1978, suggests that vitamin D intake may be linked to Parkinson’s disease. According to the study, the participants with the highest vitamin D levels showed a 67% lower risk of developing the the disease. Vitamin D levels were not indicated.
Additional studies could be referenced, but there are simply too many. Study after study is showing that vitamin D is beneficial. I’ve included recent studies that appear to be significant and fact-based. Additional studies are pending.
Vitamin D has truly become the trendiest vitamin of the year. Is the hype justified? According to all of the studies, it may actually be the real deal. Unfortunately, taking the right amount, without overdosing, is harder than you might think. First of all, you have to look at any supplements you may already be taking. Does your calcium supplement have vitamin d in it? High quality calcium supplements, often coral calcium and calcium citrate, already have vitamin d. Calcium, multivitamins, and other specialty supplements often contain vitamin D. It’s easy to overdose, if you aren’t aware of what you’re already taking. Unlike most vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, vitamin D may not always be readily available. People who live in very low or high latitudes may not receive enough sunlight to adequately produce ample amounts of vitamin D. Supplementation may be necessary for these people, people who do not consume vitamin-d rich foods, and people who do diligently protect their skin from the damaging rays of the sun.
Vitamin D Supplements
Vitamin D Books
Vitamin D Recommendations
First of all, you should always try to get nutrients, vitamins, and minerals through foods rather than vitamins. If you would like to consume more vitamin D without taking supplements, you can do so by diet alone. The following foods are an excellent source of vitamin D:
- fish (including catfish, halibut, salmon, sardines, tuna, and many other varieties)
- milk and many other dairy products
- sweet potatoes
Getting a significant amount of vitamin D is possible with moderate sun exposure and adequate intake of foods rich in vitamin D. If you’re like me though, you know that you’re not getting enough vitamin D. With that in mind, The Institute of Medicine recommends no more than 2000 IU per day. This sounds like a lot, but many people can produce over 20,000 IU of vitamin D in a single day, if it’s really sunny. That being said, every person is different. Overdosing on vitamin D typically occurs after a significant period of time, but it can result in muscular weakness, kidney stones, renal failure, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, mental or physical retardation of unborn babies, deafness, itchy skin, and many other disorders. Consequently, you should be very careful about proper dosing. The following dosages are considered the upper intake levels by the Institute of Medicine:
Birth to 1 year 1,000 IU
1 year and older 2,000 IU
Most people probably don’t enough vitamin-d rich foods. Consequently, I wouldn’t recommend taking such a significant dose. I know adult who overdosed at 1,600 IU per day. Each person is different, and you can’t quite be sure what your body is or isn’t producing. The best bet is to be conservative and to speak with your doctor. A simple blood test can show your current vitamin D level. While vitamin D appears to be a tremendous breakthrough in medicine, it shouldn’t be abused. Treat vitamin D like a medicine, and it can yield similar positive results.
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