Seeing the Light – Vitamin D

I have been hearing a lot recently about the importance of Vitamin D and the need to increase consumption on the supplement. Vitamin D is not abundant in many food sources, so many medical professionals are now suggesting taking Vitamin D supplements. In the past few years, studies have shown that a lack of the vitamin may be the primary culprit in depression, heart disease, pregnancy problems, birth defects, skin and other cancers, and multiple sclerosis. And doctors have found that even if you don’t suffer from any of these conditions, getting more D can still result in a dramatic improvement in your overall feeling of well-being. According to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine, experts believe that up to 77 percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient. The people at Harvard School of Public Health, are urging the government to raise its recommended daily amount of vitamin D for adults from 200 IU to at least 1,000 IU, possibly more.

In general, I am not a fan of popping pills to get nutrients for a few reasons – 1) I believe it is better to get your nutrients from whole food sources, and 2) many vitamins and minerals can easily be toxic if you ingest too much. However, vitamin D is hard to get through food sources and the only other natural way for your body to produce the vitamin is to bake in direct sunlight everyday – increasing your risk for skin cancer. Also, while some vitamins are more easily ingested at toxic levels, you’d have to ingest 10,000 IU of vitamin D every day for six months before you’d begin to approach such levels.

All of these things combined, got me thinking – if a small pill could really help prevent so many major diseases, and it is nearly impossible to ingest too much, why wouldn’t I want to increase my Vitamin D consumption? And it is not often that experts recommend taking a supplement over looking to food sources for nutrients. I do take a multi-vitamin daily to fill in gaps of anything I may be lacking in my diet. I looked at the label and was impressed that my current supplement contains 800 IU. I have added a 400 IU vitamin D pill to my daily routine to insure that I reach the 1000 IU level each day. I have not noticed any significant changes from the additional 400 IU, but am glad I am helping my body perform at its best.

If you are looking to get vitamin D from food, where should you look? Certain kinds of fish, like salmons and fortified diary are some of the only decent food sources, but it would be hard to consume enough to reach the 1000 IU mark each day. Here are some other tips:

– Take a daily multivitamin or a vitamin D supplement that provides at least 1,000 IU. In addition, drink two glasses of skim milk per day.

– When buying supplements or fortified foods, make sure the label reads “D3.” This is the same type the skin makes, but some companies still use D2, a plant-based form of the vitamin that the body doesn’t metabolize as easily.

– Get your blood levels measured, especially if you have a family history of heart disease, cancer, or depression. If you are extremely low, your doctor might recommend higher doses of D.

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2 thoughts on “Seeing the Light – Vitamin D

  1. Shelley says:

    This is great info that I wasn’t aware of, thanks for the heads up. One question – what is IU?

  2. modernation says:

    IU is International Units. It is based on measured biological activity or effect and used for certain vitamins, hormones, medications, vaccines, and blood products.

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