How Ethnicity May Affect Your Need For Vitamin D
People who live in colder climates generally need more vitamin D than those who live closer to the equator, but among all geographic locations, people with darker skin tones often need more of the vitamin than those with lighter skin. Indeed, people with highly pigmented skin who live in cold climates are considered to be at a particularly high risk of vitamin D deficiency, according to a study published in June 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 31404-4/fulltext” rel=”nofollow”> 13)
Observationally, weve seen that people of African descent and people of Middle Eastern descent also need more vitamin D to achieve optimum levels, Foroutan says.
What Kind Of Vitamin D Supplement Should I Take
There are two different types of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 mainly comes from plant-based foods like UV grown mushrooms, or fortified foods and dietary supplements. Vitamin D3 comes from animals and supplements. Youll get D3 from fish oil, butter, liver, and egg yolks.
Vitamin D is available in supplemental form as a liquid, tablet, or capsule. Some doctors will even give vitamin D injections. D2 typically requires a prescription to get, and D3 is commonly available for purchase over-the-counter. There is some debate about whether D2 is stronger than D3 seeking medical advice is the best way to make sure you get the right form and dosage that you need.
The best form of vitamin D to take as a supplement is D3 although, D2 is acceptable, says Tod Cooperman, MD, founder of ConsumerLab. D3 is less likely to result in errors on blood tests, and high doses may raise levels better. In terms of formulations, liquids and pills are generally both fine . My preference is liquid drops, as you can easily adjust the dose. Plus, you can put it right on food or in a beverage, which should remind you that vitamin D, which is fat-soluble, should be taken with foods that contain fats to improve absorption.
What Are The Optimal Blood Levels Of Vitamin D
To find out if you are deficient in vitamin D your doctor can order a blood test, called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D test.
- Vitamin D levels should be above 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood, which indicates that you arent suffering from severe vitamin D deficiency.
- A level of 50+ ng/mL indicates a good level of vitamin D, while 3050 ng/mL means you want to supplement with vitamin D, work on spending more time in the sun and adding vitamin D foods into your diet.
- Subclinical vitamin D deficiency is thought to be very common. It is defined as a lower than normal vitamin D level that has no visible signs or symptoms. Levels below 30 ng/mL indicate vitamin D insufficiency.
- A level less than 20 to 30 ng/mL means you are very deficient and definitely want to take immediate action to bring those levels up.
- On the other hand, vitamin D toxicity is considered anything above 200240 ng/mL of blood.
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How Can You Boost Intake
While classic ideas around vitamin D revolve around the sun, Konstantin says that simply having a couple of hours in the sunshine wont be enough to create a good level of the essential vitamin in the body. Nature has come up with a complex mechanism: to produce this micro-element, a person should not only be in direct sunlight from 11 am until 2 pm without any UV protection on the skin, but also needs to be physically active for several hours. When this vitamin is being developed in the skin under ultraviolet radiation, it needs to enter the bloodstream. This is only possible when exercising. If we just lie on the beach and sunbathe, vitamin D is also produced, but then it is instantly destroyed, without bringing any benefit to our body.
This means that the vitamin, as the NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition & Health study suggests, needs to come from other sources. Pareena Patel, Lloyds Pharmacy pharmacist, says that vitamin D tablets should offer the extra boost and shiitake mushrooms are particularly good for increasing vitamin D and lentinan levels in the body. While Uta suggests that, Oily fish is the only true rich source of vitamin D. Liver, eggs and butter provide small amounts.
How To Increase Vitamin D Levels
People can get at least some of their daily vitamin D from exposure to sunlight.However, as light levels vary, depending on location and the time of year, a person may not be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
A 2019 study in Switzerland found that only 1015 minutes of sun exposure per day was enough to provide 1,000 IU of vitamin D in spring and summer. However, getting this amount in fall and winter was unrealistic, requiring someone to spend over 6 hours a day outdoors.
This suggests that people who live in colder climates, or who spend most of their time indoors, may benefit from vitamin D supplements. However, a person should talk to their doctor before taking vitamin D, as it can interact with some medications.
Sunlight can also cause skin damage and sunburn, so it is essential to use sunscreen when spending time outside.
A study on Australian office workers found that applying sunscreen meant people could spend more time outdoors, leading to higher vitamin D levels overall.
People can also get some of their vitamin D from food. According to the , food sources of vitamin D include:
- oily fish, such as mackerel, tuna, and trout
- beef liver
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What Contributes To Vitamin Deficiency
At this time, 40-60% of the entire U.S. population is vitamin D deficient, including pregnant women. The reasons for this widespread deficiency are many, and to begin to unfold this issue you can start with understanding there is a very short list of foods that contain vitamin D.
These foods are egg yolk, salmon and cod liver oil, however, most vitamin D is consumed through fortified foods like milk. For 75% of the population that is lactose intolerant, fortified milk products are not a reliable source of vitamin D consumption.
Additionally, many factors influence the bodys ability to make and absorb vitamin D. These factors include: where you live, the season, how much time you spend outdoors without sunscreen, skin pigmentation, age, obesity, pollution, and having healthy intestines with optimal absorption capacity. These factors come in to play because Vitamin D is actually a hormone and needs sunlight, in order for the body to manufacture it properly.
At this time, a large part of the U.S. population falls into one, or more, of these categories:
- Uses sunscreen
- Is a senior citizen , so it is not surprising that vitamin D deficiencies have risen to such proportions.
Mayo Clinic Q And A: How Much Vitamin D Do I Need
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have heard different recommendations from different sources regarding vitamin D. One doctor told my husband that everyone living in the Northern Hemisphere should take a vitamin D supplement every day, even in the summer. What do you recommend?
ANSWER: Understanding how much vitamin D you need can be confusing because there are different recommendations about how much vitamin D adults should get. Using the recommendations that fall on the low end, many adults dont get the amount of vitamin D they should. Because few foods contain vitamin D naturally, eating foods fortified with vitamin D and taking a supplement may be beneficial.
Vitamin D is important because it helps your body sustain normal levels of calcium and phosphorus. Because it works as a key that allows your body to absorb calcium, vitamin D plays a critical role in forming and maintaining healthy bones. It also helps keep your muscles, nerves and immune system healthy.
Research suggests that consistently getting enough vitamin D can significantly lower the risk for the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Low vitamin D also is associated with falls, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. However, an association does not mean low vitamin D causes these conditions, or that taking a vitamin D supplement will adequately prevent or treat them.
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Are There Any Side Effects
There are few side effects to worry about, especially if youre only taking the recommended daily allowance. However, if you take too many supplements then something called vitamin D toxicity or hypervitaminosis D can occur. If this happens, then the main consequence is a build-up of calcium in the blood which can cause vomiting and nausea, muscle weakness and frequent urination. The toxicity would also escalate if its not dealt with and create issues in the bones and kidneys, such as the creation of calcium stones.
For this to happen, however, there would need to be a daily intake of about 60,000 IU over several months. This is 100 times higher than the recommended daily allowance of 600 to 800 IU per day so it would be quite hard to achieve by accident. Vitamin intake via the sun or foods doesnt contribute to this, as the body regulates any naturally occurring vitamins coming into the body.
How Much Vitamin D Should I Take
A high percentage of adults, somewhere between 50 percent and upward of 90 percent depending on ethnicity and location, are believed to be at least somewhat deficient in vitamin D. It makes sense then that vitamin D is now one of the most widely consumed supplements, though you may wonder how much vitamin D should I take. Its a tricky question, but its important to get enough of this essential vitamin.
Deficiency in vitamin D is a real problem considering that this nutrient has been shown to promote health by helping with absorption of minerals like calcium, aiding in bone health, boosting immune function, supporting growth and development, and much more. If you spend little time outdoors in the sun, have dark skin, are over the age of 70 or live in northern regions of the world where theres less sunshine year-round, then youre more likely to experience vitamin D deficiency symptoms.
When it comes to reaping the many benefits of vitamin D, you may be wondering how much vitamin D should I take? The optimal amount of vitamin D to take in supplement form depends on a number of factors for example, if youre already deficient in vitamin D, your diet, age, health status, where you live and so on. As you can see, answering the question of how much vitamin D I should take isnt necessarily cut and dry.
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Advice For Infants And Young Children
The Department of Health and Social Care recommends that babies from birth to 1 year of age should have a daily supplement containing 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year if they are:
- formula-fed and are having less than 500ml of infant formula a day, as infant formula is already fortified with vitamin D
Children aged 1 to 4 years old should be given a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.
You can buy vitamin D supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D at most pharmacies and supermarkets.
Women and children who qualify for the Healthy Start scheme can get free supplements containing vitamin D.
See the Healthy Start website for more information.
What’s The Difference Between Vitamin D2 And D3
There are two forms of vitamin D in supplements: D2 and D3 .
D2 is found in plants whereas D3 is in animal foods and what we synthesise from sunlight.
Both are absorbed in the small intestine, although some studies have shown vitamin D3 supplements are better at raising vitamin D levels compared with D2 supplements.
You can get vegan supplements containing either D2 or D3.
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Benefits Of Vitamin D For Women In Menopause
If you are a woman in your 30s, 40s or 50s, its time to think about vitamin D. This little wonder of a vitamin plays a central role in many body processes and is on the A-list for women during menopause.
Studies have linked it to preventing heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and weight gain. If that seems like a lot of prevention in one little vitamin, it is.
You may think of vitamin D as you do other vitamins such as vitamin C or the B vitamins. Yet vitamin D is unique in that it functions more like a hormone than a vitamin. And, as we know from other hormones such as insulin and thyroid hormone, a hormonal deficiency can cause of a multitude of seemingly unrelated problems.
Its important to be aware of your intake of vitamin D as you approach menopause because research is discovering its role in the prevention of many diseases and conditions that are more common as you age. You may be aware of vitamin D as a helper for absorbing calcium and building bones, but it is involved in many other processes that protect you from disease and health problems.
Here are a few of the conditions that vitamin D may help treat or prevent:
My Recommended Daily Dose For Vitamin D In Older Adults
For most older adults, I recommend a supplement of vitamin D 1000 IU/day.
I do this because:
- The American Geriatrics Society recommends that clinicians tell older patients to take vitamin D 1000 IU/day, to help prevent fractures.
I also do this because:
- Many older adults have risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. These include having osteoporosis and spending limited time outdoors.
- The skin becomes less able to synthesize vitamin D as people get older.
- Vitamin D seems to be involved in muscle function. Some research has suggested it can help reduce falls, other research hasnt confirmed this finding. Either way, it seems sensible to avoid frank deficiency.
- In the vast majority of older people, taking vitamin D 1000 IU as a supplement every day has very low risk of harm.
- Research suggests that taking vitamin D 1000 IU/day will prevent low vitamin D levels in most older adults.
Other expert groups have provided similar vitamin D guidance. For instance, in 2010 the Institute of Medicine published a report with age-based Recommended Daily Allowances for vitamin D in normal healthy persons. For people aged 1-70, they recommended 600 IU/day. For people aged 71+, they recommended 800 IU/day.
Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D are common in older adults who dont take supplements, but are uncommon in those who do take supplemental vitamin D.
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Vitamin D: The Healthy Aging Dose
Confused by all the back and forth in the media about vitamin D?
Dont be. Theres actually a pretty easy and straightforward approach that most older adults can take.
In this post, Ill explain what I recommend to most of my older patients, and why.
Ill also address the following frequently asked questions:
- Which type of Vitamin D should I take?
- Do I need to have my vitamin D blood level checked?
- What should ones vitamin D level be?
- Will vitamin D really prevent falls or fractures?
- Will vitamin D prevent dementia, cancer, and/or premature death?
- I am outside a lot. Do I need a vitamin D supplement?
- I heard that a higher level of vitamin D is better for you. How much is too much?
By the way, Im updating this post in part because I was disappointed by the recent NY Times article Why Are So Many People Popping Vitamin D?
Among other things, this article should have had a different headline. The key problem the article describes is that there are too many people being tested for vitamin D. The article does not make the case that too many people are taking vitamin D supplements.
In fact, vitamin D supplementation remains recommended by experts. And as Ill explain below, there are good reasons to believe that vitamin D supplementation is especially useful for older adults.
Now, I do agree with the article in that many people seem to have unrealistic expectations of what vitamin D can do for them.
Will Vitamin D Really Prevent Falls Or Fractures
Good question. Some studies have suggested that vitamin D reduces the chance of these serious health events, but these results have been questioned by later studies.
The US Preventive Services Task Force used to recommend Vitamin D to help reduce fall risk. But in 2018, they changed their recommendation.
My current take is that vitamin D might help with falls and fracture risk, especially for certain older adults. Since it has a low chance of harm and possible helps some people a least a little, I recommend it.
However, I usually tell people to not have overly optimistic expectations of vitamin Ds effects. In most older adults, problems such as pain, fatigue, and/or falls are due to multiple underlying causes, so theres often no easy fix available.
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Why Do We Need Supplements
Most clean eating specialist and health practitioners recommend starting with a diet rich in nutrient-dense, organic, real foods as the basis of a healthy lifestyle. However, for many women, diet alone may not be enough.
There are a lot of reasons why you might want to add vitamins and supplements to your healthy lifestyle routine. We got through so many phases in our life that demand varying levels of nutrients.
So many women are overcoming health issues. Some women are experiencing hormonal changes due to pregnancy or perimenopause. Some women have genetic variations and feel better when they supplement with certain methylated vitamins.
Lastly, todays soil is more depleted of vitamins and minerals than it was generations ago due to modern farming practices, even if it is certified organic.
Thats why Ive chosen to focus on what supplements would be ideal for a woman in her 30s to take. This article is appropriate for most women in our child-bearing years.