Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?
It’s that time of year again! Winter comes rolling in, bringing shorter days and less sunlight. We begin to spend more time indoors and far less time outside and in the sun. It is during this time that we become more susceptible to Vitamin D depletion. Without sufficient intake through our diet, depletion of this important vitamin is inevitable, and we begin to experience many of the symptoms that come along with low Vitamin D levels. For those of us living in Northernmost countries, or cover our skin all year long, daily Vitamin D supplementation is needed to prevent a deficiency from occurring.
What does Vitamin D do in the body anyways? Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate calcium and phosphate levels to enable proper mineralization of bones and is needed for bone growth. Without Vitamin D, bones can become brittle, thin and soft, increasing the incidence of breaks and fractures. Vitamin D is also important for reducing inflammation in the body, cell growth, immune function, as well as neuromuscular function.
Symptoms that might occur when Vitamin D deficient:
· Weakened immune system, delayed wound healing
· Depression or/and anxiety
· Muscle weakness
· High blood pressure
· In severe cases, Osteoporosis or Osteomalacia (softening of the bones) causing a higher incidence of bone fractures or breaks.
Factors that may affect Vitamin D absorption, leading to deficiency are:
· Certain medications including anticonvulsants, medications to treat AIDS and HIV, steroids, certain weight loss medications and some medications that reduce cholesterol.
· Individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery
· Individuals with fat malabsorption syndromes
· Obese individuals tend to have lower Vitamin D levels due to subcutaneous fat sequestering the Vitamin D and altering its release into the blood.
· Individuals with nephretic syndrome or diabetes
So how much Vitamin D do you need?
I personally recommend that anyone living in a Northernmost country or whose skin is covered all year around should aim for the upper limit of Vitamin D rather than the RDA guidelines to prevent deficiency. First and foremost, always talk to your primary care physician before supplementing. He or she can test your Vitamin D levels with a test called a 25(OH)D blood test. This will be a good indicator of where your levels are at and if you need a higher dose to treat an existing deficiency.
The current RDA for Vitamin D is:
400 IU (10 mcg): Infants, 0-12 months.
600 IU (15 mcg): Children and adults, 1-70 years of age
800 IU (20 mcg): Elderly and pregnant or lactating women.
The UL for Vitamin D:
1000 IU (25mcg)/day: Infants 0-6 months
1500 IU (38mcg)/day: Infants 7-12 months
2500 IU (63mcg)/day: Children 1-3 years
3000 IU (75 mcg)/day: Children 4-8 years
4000 IU (100 mcg)/day: Children 9 years – adults up to age 70, including pregnant and lactating women.
Food sources that provide Vitamin D include, fatty fish like Salmon and mackerel, beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and any foods that have been fortified with vitamin D, commonly dairy and breakfast cereals. Supplements will be the highest and best source and can be found in liquid, tablet or capsule form.
In conclusion, Vitamin D is an important vitamin that is necessary for the prevention of many diseases including osteoporosis and should be tested yearly to ensure optimal levels, preventing deficiency.