First of all, VTAMIN D is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions like a steroid hormone in your body and it is absolutely essential for good health. There are two forms of vitamin D in our diets: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) found in some mushrooms such as dried Shitake and Button mushrooms and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) found in egg yolks, oily fish such as Sockeye salmon, Sardines, Mackerel, Herring, Catfish, Tuna and Cod fish liver oils. D3 is the more powerful of the 2 types and is responsible for raising blood levels of vitamin D almost double the amount of D2. Many of us know vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, which it’s made in your skin when you are exposed to sunlight. Any excess of D fortunately will be stored in your fat for later use. But, in spite of this, 42% of adult Americans are still deficient in D. Many of us work inside all day or over lather ourselves with sunscreen when outside. We all need some sunlight, but the real question is how much? When it comes to the Western diet, the majority of Americans don’t even eat the few foods that are rich in vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiencies in adults, (mainly women) can intensify bone loss, increase risks of fractures and cause muscle weakness. D deficiencies have also been linked with several cancers, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis. Type 1 diabetes and thyroid problems. With children and teens, severe deficiency can cause delays in development and growth. Serious D deficiencies can cause a disease where the bones start softening.
So how much vitamin D should you be taking?
It’s not that straight forward as it depends on several factors, such as age, race, diet, latitude, season and sun exposure as well as different studies. According to the U.S Institute of Medicine suggests that the average daily intake for 97.5% of Americans should be around 400-800 IU or 10-20 micrograms, if you are also getting adequate amounts of sunlight. This means we need to eat enough foods high in D or fortified foods with D, take a supplement or get the recommended amounts of sun daily during the Summer months. when the sun is stronger. Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, Health Line writer, states another study showed that for healthy adults who had an intake of 1120-1680 IU of vitamin D, they seemed to maintain sufficient healthy blood levels. But, for postmenopausal women, they needed slightly higher amounts of vitamin D. In this same study for all of you who are deficient, you need to take 4000- 5000 IU’s of D, in order to reach a healthy blood level of 30ng/ml. At this level, I think it’s important to work with a health care provider to get it right. They will check your blood levels for vitamin D, by getting your blood tested by measuring 25 (OH)D in the blood. This is considered the storage form of vitamin D in the blood.
5 Healthy Benefits of Vitamin D
- Supports calcium absorption in the gut
- Helps with strong healthy teeth and hair
- Regulates cellular growth as well as healthy cell activity
- Aids, soothes and reduces systemic irritation and swelling
- Promotes skeletal health
Can we get enough vitamin D through sun exposure?
Summer sun is the best way to get adequate vitamin D, but the amount of sunlight varies from race to race or just person to person. For example, older people or darker skinned people do not produce enough vitamin D as they have less in their skin. Other times of the year when the sun is not strong enough, it is harder to produce vitamin D and therefore a supplement must be taken. Bjarnadottir says, “While in strong sun, exposing your limbs for 5-30 minutes between 10am and 3pm is usually enough to meet your daily requirements for most light skinned people, but for darker skinned it will take a little longer.
Again, the main sources of vitamin D are still sunshine, fatty fish, such as salmon & sardines, fish liver oil, dried mushrooms, egg yolks, fortified foods and supplements.