Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

November 9, 2012
Categories: Vitamin D

I believe that food is our medicine, and that we should obtain the majority of our nutrients from a diverse diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high quality free range proteins, and healthy fats.  But I also recommend certain supplements to help ensure that there are not deficiencies.  One of the supplements I recommend is vitamin D.

According to the Vitamin D Council, vitamin D deficiency has reached epidemic proportions.  Estimates of the percentage of Americans that could have deficient blood levels of vitamin D range from 50% – 97%.

Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but a pre-hormone produced in the skin after exposure to the sun’s UVB rays.  Naturally, vitamin D levels can fluctuate throughout the year, with levels typically dropping to their lowest in the Fall/Winter months when we get less sun exposure.  Also using sunscreens can prevent the absorption of vitamin D into the skin.  Vitamin D levels should be tested at least once a year, even better twice yearly.  If there has been a recent fracture or unexplained aches and pains – get it checked again.

Critical for bone formation, insufficient vitamin D levels raises our risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency is likely one reason why fractures have risen over 30% in boys, and over 50% in girls in the past 30 years.  Low vitamin D levels also can depress our immune system.  Some research shows that vitamin D is more effective in preventing the flu than a flu shot.  But perhaps even more important – optimum levels of vitamin D is associated with prevention of several different types of cancers (especially breast cancer). According to UCSD, over 70% of breast cancers could be prevented with optimum levels of vitamin D.  A Danish study also found that a vitamin D deficiency is linked to heart disease. Other studies are linking vitamin D to many other disorders – such as multiple sclerosis. There could even be a link to autism, according to the Vitamin D Council.

How do you know if your vitamin D levels are low?  Some people with low vitamin D may not have any symptoms at all. Others might complain of unexplained muscle or bone aches, weakness and pains, and or depression.  But the best way to tell is to get tested – a simple blood test will tell you what your levels are – ask for the 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D, test.  But even if you are taking Vitamin D, you still might not have sufficient blood levels – if you are taking too low of a dose, or if you are low in magnesium.

The forth most abundant mineral in the body, magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical processes.  About two thirds of all magnesium in our body is found in our bones, and it is needed for Vitamin D to be properly absorbed – making it a key co-factor for vitamin D.  It is estimated that over 70% of the population is deficient in magnesium. So even if you are taking a vitamin D supplement, if you are low in magnesium, you might not be properly absorbing it.  The symptoms of magnesium deficiency are extensive – leg pain, foot or eye twitches, muscle cramps, irritability, constipation, and sensitivity to light. If allowed to progress, migraines, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even kidney stones can develop.

So what is the best way to get Vitamin D?  In addition to sunlight, many people will benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement.

So how much vitamin D should I take?  Give my kids?  That all depends – on the individual (people who are overweight need more vitamin D), what your current blood levels are, how much sun you get, and more – all of which add up to why it is important to get tested.  If you levels are extremely low (below 20 ng/mL), your doctor might want to prescribe a short course of a high dose of vitamin D to quickly raise the levels up.  And you might want to consider adding a magnesium supplement as well, to make sure you are absorbing the vitamin D – one good option is Natural Calm, called the “anti-stress drink.”

The recommended daily dose for adults is between 600-800 IUs per day.  But new research is indicating that this may be far too low.  Research supports that the ideal blood levels for vitamin D are between 40 and 60 ng/dl. Many doctors recommend 1,000 – 2,500 IU daily for adults for daily maintenance.

It is possible to take too much vitamin D, but according to the Vitamin D Council, vitamin D toxicity is extremely rare. “Published cases of toxicity, for which serum levels and dose are known, all involve intake of ≥ 40000 IU (1000 mcg) per day.”  Read: Vitamin D – How to Determine Your Optimal dose for more information and talk to your practitioner about the appropriate level of vitamin D supplementation for you and your family.

Note: Make sure that you are taking the vitamin D3 form (which is better absorbed and used than D2).

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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