BIG Vitamin D Mistake I Vitamin D deficiency ( Preventive Medicine Journal )
- Vitamin D deficiency is more common than you think. 1 Billion people worldwide are suffering from Vitamin D Deficiency.
- The original recommendations for vitamin D levels for optimal health were wrong. We need more than just 400-600 IU per day.
- Learn about the best sources of vitamin D and how to make sure that you are doing the best for your health.
When scientists originally recommended 400-600 IU of vitamin D, they had thought that vitamin D was only for bone health. When they did the studies, this amount showed a protective effect for bone based on the body’s response to bone protective hormone production which decreased when there was enough vitamin D to protect bone health.
Since then medicine has made some great discoveries and learned more about the role of vitamin D in the body and has found that those recommendations are inadequate. With people in poor health everywhere, a lot of it is due to an unhealthy lifestyle, but vitamin D deficiency has also been to blame and is widespread.
For adults, the new recommended dose as recommended by the Preventative Medicine Journal is a blood serum level of 75-100 nmol/L.
What Is Vitamin D And What Does It Do ?
Vitamin D is actually a hormone. Vitamins are compounds that our bodies cannot make, whereas our bodies produce hormones which is what happens when your skin comes into contact with UV-B rays from the sun. Vitamin D is involved in so many processes in our bodies. The primary functions of vitamin D are:
- Enhancing and assisting in the absorption and use of calcium, phosphate, zinc, iron, and magnesium by the body.
- Protecting and strengthening bones
- Keeps the immune system healthy and helps to prevent diseases like cancer (especially of reproductive organs), arthritis, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders in general such as multiple sclerosis.
- Improves fertility
- Reduces PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
- Prevents dental problems
- Assists in healthy weight management
Symptoms Of Vitamin D Deficiency
- Weak bones and muscles
- Reduced endurance
- Constantly getting sick
- A sweaty head
- Hormone imbalances (thyroid problems, PMS, irregular periods)
How Much Vitamin D Do We Need
With children, it is best to confirm with your doctor, particularly if your baby is not healthy as the dose may need to be higher or lower. Researchers and the Endocrine Society has set the following recommendations:
- 0-6 months: 1000 IU
- 6-12 months: 1500 IU
- 1-3 years: 2500 IU- 3000 IU
- 4-8 years: 3000 IU
- 8 and up: 4000 IU- 8000 IU
- Adults: 4000 IU-10 000 IU (it can also be set by bodyweight at 1000 IU per 12 kg)
The lower range of doses are simply to prevent deficiency, the upper number is for optimum health. These IU bring the blood serum levels up to 75-100 nmol/L.
The Best Sources Of Vitamin D
1. The Sun (Up to 20 000 IU in 20 Mins)
This is the number one way that we obtain vitamin D and requires skin exposure without the use of sunscreen. The amount your skin produces varies. Darker-skinned people and obese people make less than paler skinned people so if you are darker-skinned or obese you might need more exposure, say 20-30 minutes instead of 10-15 minutes.
During certain seasons and in certain countries there is less UV radiation so using sun exposure for vitamin D is not always viable. Download an app with a UV index to see how your area is doing. You can then predict how much sun you need more accurately. It can vary from 10-30 minutes usually on sunny days.
You don’t need to worry about overdosing either, the body will stop producing vitamin D when it has enough. You only need to do this about twice a week. If you are going to be in the sun, especially during hot months for longer than half an hour, sunscreen is advised, but make sure that your sunscreen is free of toxins.
Most food sources of vitamin D are animal sources, but there are a few plant sources too. Often foods are fortified with vitamin D, but they use vitamin D2 instead of vitamin D3 which is not as good. The amount of vitamin D in these foods are supplied by the USDA per 100 g:
- Fish And Fish Oil (435 IU to 10 000 IU): The fish products highest in vitamin D 3 are cod liver oil, mackerel, salmon, eel, carp, and trout and vary between cooking methods and canned or fresh varieties.
- Mushrooms (200 IU to 1276 IU): The best mushrooms to eat are those exposed to UV light.
- Egg (45 IU to 218 IU): Egg yolk specifically is where vitamin D is and most of the nutrition. Do not cut out egg yolks and leave them runny to preserve the healthy fats.
- Dairy (45 IU to 124 IU): Raw dairy is best as it contains good enzymes that are destroyed by the pasteurizing process.
- Meat (up to 53 IU): All meat contains vitamin D but the better quality grass-fed meat sources are better as the other animals are grain-fed and often kept indoors all the time without much sun exposure so they cannot make much vitamin D.
I haven’t really included the fortified foods here, but if you follow the USDA link you can see for yourselves. The problem is that they use the wrong form of vitamin D. Always check for vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) on the label if you need to use fortified foods.
Remember that highly processed foods may say they have added vitamins and minerals, but they have also added a lot of sugar and excess sodium, and possibly trans fat too which increases your risk for many diseases.
Do You Need A Vitamin D Supplement ?
During winter months, or if you are unable to get much sun exposure, you may need to take a supplement to make sure that you reach optimal levels. There are also people who have a gene mutation that makes it hard to make vitamin D through sun exposure. They will also need to take supplements.
If you find that you have any of the symptoms of deficiency, try taking a supplement to see if that improves it. You also need to look at your overall diet because you may have enough vitamin D, but if you don’t have enough calcium your bones will weaken. If you don’t have enough omega 3 you may be more prone to depression or have inflammation that increases your risk for health problems.
The Difference Between Vitamin D3 And Vitamin D2
It isn’t that vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is bad. This is the plant form of vitamin D, although microalgae contain some D3, the only other two plant sources of vitamin D, mushrooms, and yeast contain D2 unless fortified.
The thing about vitamin D2 is that it isn’t absorbed and used by the body as well as vitamin D3. The vitamin D receptors in our bodies are geared more towards using vitamin D3 but your body can and does still absorb and use vitamin D2.
In tests, vitamin D3 raises the blood serum levels of vitamin D whereas vitamin D2 doesn’t do this nearly as efficiently. Women also have better luck with vitamin D from food and supplements in general, so for men, it is even more critical to make sure that you are using D3 instead of D2.
Can You Overdose On Vitamin D?
If you get some sensible sun exposure, eat foods containing vitamin D, and take a supplement in the winter, you will not overdose. It takes around 60 000 IU per day to overdose so it is very hard to overdose.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin meaning that it needs fat to be absorbed and used. Taking your vitamin D supplement in the morning with food is best because of this reason. Fat-soluble vitamins, however, are stored in the body instead of the excess being removed in the urine which is why they can build up in the body when taken in excess.
Though extremely rare, symptoms of overdose include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Frequently urinating
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, you can get a blood test done. Check out this article for more vitamins and minerals that are common deficiencies and to learn the truth about supplements. Not all supplements are safe.