Monday, March 29, 2010

Vital to Your Health - Vitamin D

Vitamin D levels are being seen as a "measurement for wellness" now by some doctors; see NPR article http://bit.ly/bQhWfW. But over 75% of Americans are not getting enough Vitamin D; NPR article http://bit.ly/c9wIdn.

Vitamin D mainly comes from sun exposure, and from a few foods such as egg yolks, fish, and fortified milk and grains. It is an important component in helping your body absorb calcium for strong bones and healthy teeth. Recent research, however, is showing that Vitamin D is important for far more than just your bones: it may protect against heart disease, some cancers, severe asthma in children, and reduced mental function. It may also help with fibromyalgia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, general muscular aches and pains, and in supporting your immune system.

The appropriate level of Vitamin D is now being reviewed. The current Recommended Daily Allowance for adults is 400 IU. A "high" daily dose of Vitamin D may help prevent bone fractures in older adults; "high" being over the 400 IU recommended. Preliminary research shows intakes of between 1000-2000 IU as being safe and effective for adults. One doctor in the first NPR article cited is taking 3000 IU a day. Personally, I have have upped my intake to 1000 IU daily.

There are concerns that this issue will get worse before it gets better: obesity causes Vitamin D to disappear from the bloodstream and it is a lot harder to get levels back to normal after this occurs. Vitamin D levels have also been found to be low in African-Americans and Hispanics (due to their darker skin blocking sunlight).

What can you do? You can drink a minimum of 4 glasses of fortified milk (10 if you want to hit the 1000 IU level). There is a great chart (Table 3) at http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp about a quarter of the way down the page. Cod liver oil is very high in Vitamin D. Salmon and mackerel also contain significant amounts. But do you eat fish every day or worry about poisons like lead, mercury, PCBs, etc in your fish? You probably ought to consider taking a supplement. I take Shaklee's Vitalizer with iron (being a woman under 50) - 1000 IU of Vitamin D. Whatever supplement you decide on, make sure it does not contain synthetic ingredients - they can do more harm than good.

Decide to do something, please! Let me know what you are doing to ensure YOU get enough Vitamin D.

Questions or comments? Feel free to contact me at kirstenm@frontiernet.net.

2 comments:

  1. I checked my multi-vitamin - it does include Vitamin D. Being a Portlander, this is extra important, since we see little sun! A friend of mine told me the other day that she just found out she's severely deficient in Vit. D. (She does not take a multi-vitamin.)

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  2. Shaklee's vita lea costs about $23 for a 2-month supply and has 800 IU of Vitamin D. All natural. You might suggest she take something!!

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