There’s a Good Chance You’re Vitamin D Deficient
Are you vitamin D deficient? The hot vitamin in the news in recent months is vitamin D and for good reason. It is now recognized that vitamin D has many more health benefits than just being essential for bone health. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and colon cancer and type 1 diabetes.
Researchers from Creighton University School of Medicine and University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine showed that significantly higher levels of vitamin D are necessary to cut the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and other diseases. They found that daily intakes of vitamin D need much higher than the minimal intake of 400 to 800 IUs previously thought. It is now felt that blood levels of vitamin D need to be in the range of 40 to 60 ng/ml. Their study which was published in Anticancer Research in February, 2011 showed that the dose needed to ensure that 97.5% of the population achieved vitamin D levels of at least 40 ng/ml was 9,600 IUs. The lower zone of potential toxicity is considered 200 ng/ml and this study concluded that intake of vitamin D in doses up to 40,000 IUs a day is unlikely to lead to toxicity.
Another survey found that only 10% had blood levels of vitamin D in th 40 to 60 ng/ml range, and those that did mainly work outdoors.
In December 2010 the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended higher doses of vitamin D than prior recommendations, but lower doses of vitamin D supplementation than the study published in Anticancer Research. IOM determined that 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily is safe for adults and children over age 9 and doses up to 3,000 IUs is safe for children 8 and younger. These dosage recommendations are still substantially higher than the previous 400 to 80o IUs a day.
Another study out of Australian National University published February 8, 2011 in Neurology reported that high levels of vitamin D and sun exposure protect against the risk of multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is made in our skin during sun exposure and the incidence of multiple sclerosis is higher in individuals who live in higher latitudes that get less sun exposure. Increased sun exposure, though, in people who already have multiple sclerosis has not been shown to help.
Other diseases associated with vitamin deficiency include Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular disease. In addition to supplements, vitamin D can be found in salmon and eggs, and foods fortified with vitamin D like orange juice, cereals, and milk.
Be sure to get your vitamin D levels and if vitamin D deficient take a vitamin D supplement and/or consume foods high in vitamin D or fortified with it. Also, get some sunshine. Though the optimal dose may still be up for debate, the nice thing is that vitamin D levels can measured, and if your level is not above 40 ng/dl you need to take more than you’re currently taking.