During your most recent physical you may have been told that your vitamins D levels were too low. If you happened to mention it to you friend there is a good chance they may have had a similar experience. So why all of a sudden do we have a nation of Vitamin D deficient people? In truth what has actually happened is that physicians have begun to test for it as a normal screening process and finding that indeed many people do have lower than acceptable levels.
These lower levels are a result of gallons of sunscreen, limited exposure to the sun, dark skin and/or limiting your consumption of the foods that contain Vitamin D. We have consistently been warned about the negative effects of the sun and have dutifully slathered our children and ourselves with sunscreen to prevent skin cancer. Despite its effectiveness it has also had some negative drawbacks. Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, which means that it is stored in our fat cells and released when it is needed. The sun is unfortunately one of our best sources for this vitamin, which is integral to many bodily processes.
Normal Levels of Vitamin D contribute to:
- Decreased risk of fracture due to osteopenia or osteoporosis
- Decreased dental cavities
- Reduced incidence of heart disease and diabetes
- Decreased levels of C-reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation in our body. High levels of C-reactive protein increase the chance that we will develop a disease.
- Prevention and treatment of depression
- Reduced risk of allergies especially in adolescents and children
- Regulating cholesterol levels in the blood
Foods such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna, shitake mushrooms, egg yolk, milk, cheese and yogurt contain vitamin D but studies show that in general you’d have to eat an uncomfortable amount to fulfill all of your daily Vitamin D requirements. Since Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin in order to achieve maximal absorption I recommend that you take it with whatever meal contains the largest amount of fat.
The amount of Vitamin D you need daily is dependent on how deficient you are. In general a minimum of a 1000 IU/day for children and 1,500 to 2000 IU/day for adults if your blood levels are normal. If you are deficient you doctor may put you on a prescription of 50,000 for eight weeks prior to putting you on a maintenance dose. Having a blood test and talking with your physician is the best way to determine your specific needs. On your next physical make sure to have you Vitamin D levels assessed so that can ensure you are taking the proper amount.