ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D has emerged as a "star supplement" because of its many nutritional benefits for both men and women. Vitamin D plays a key role in the proper absorption of calcium, helps maintain strong bones and teeth, and has been shown to support a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, too many Americans are not getting enough of this "star supplement."
Although rare, recent evidence has indicated a reemergence of vitamin D deficient rickets and an alarming prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in particular segments of the population, including those with darker skin pigmentation, elderly, and those living in geographical areas with limited sunlight. Because the typical symptoms are achy bones and muscle discomfort, vitamin D deficiency is often misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
There is much debate as to the appropriate level of vitamin D to recommend. Studies are continuing to emerge in various geographical regions, physiological states, and ethnic minorities and using varying dosages of vitamin D. The Institute of Medicine recommends 600-800 IU for an adult which is an increase from previous recommendations. Recently, the Endocrine Society has released Clinical Guidelines for the Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency. These guidelines are routinely utilized by health care practitioners who are working with patients to raise their blood levels of vitamin D. These guidelines recommend 1,500-2,000 IU Vitamin D for adult patients at risk for Vitamin D deficiency. Chronic vitamin D deficiency cannot be reversed overnight. It may take months of vitamin D supplementation and sunlight exposure to rebuild the body's vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin whose primary role in the body is that it is necessary for the absorption of calcium and bone health. Without sufficient vitamin D, your body cannot absorb calcium effectively. Vitamin D is found in some food sources and is synthesized in the skin after exposure to sunlight. For most Americans, sunlight provides the main source of our vitamin D requirements because we eat few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, oily fish (salmon, herring, and sardines in oil), egg yolks and fortified milk.
Many Americans don't meet the minimum requirement of sun exposure of 5-30 minutes a day/two times a week. Certain populations are lactose-intolerant and cannot tolerate dairy products, such as milk fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is even more pronounced among people living in northern parts of the country, such as Seattle and New England states, especially in the winter due to limited access to sunlight. Obesity is yet another factor in vitamin D deficiency. In fact, the Endocrine Society recommends a higher intake of vitamin D in obese individuals.
Until recently, healthcare professionals advised people to avoid sun exposure altogether and regarded vitamin D deficiency as far less important, believing that the danger of low vitamin D levels was mainly an increased risk of fractures among the elderly and a rare disease called rickets among children. But recent research has shown that older people with adequate vitamin D levels have better muscle control, compared with those with lower vitamin D levels.
The current Institute of Medicine recommendation for vitamin D is 600 IU a day (800 IU for elderly). This recommendation represents a 50% increase from the previous recommendation of 400 IU. The Endocrine Society recommends that clinicians working with patients at risk for vitamin D deficiency, and routinely measuring their blood levels, recommend 1500-2000 IU daily. Supplements, fortified foods and exposure to sunlight are effective ways of improving levels of vitamin D.
Recognizing that vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are major public health concerns for both children and adults in the United States, Nature Made offers Vitamin D in a variety of dosage levels from 400 to 5000 I.U.
Vitamin D is available in two forms, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Nature Made® vitamins and multivitamins provide high-strength vitamin D in the D3 form, which is more active than the D2. One tablet of Nature Made Vitamin D 1,000 I.U. is equivalent to the amount of vitamin D in 7 cans of tuna (3 oz. cans), or 8 cups of fortified milk, or 25 egg yolks, or 25 cups of fortified cereal. You will see vitamin D added to many supplements available today. The most common one is the vitamin D plus calcium combination, but you will also see it added to products like fish oil, magnesium, joint support products and all multivitamins.
If you currently have a health condition or have concerns about vitamin D, talk to your physician or healthcare provider before taking a vitamin D supplement.