How Much Vitamin D Do I Need
In November 2010, the Institute of Medicine’s expert committee set a new “dietary reference intake” for vitamin D.
Assuming that a person gets virtually no vitamin D from sunshine — and that this person gets adequate amounts of calcium — the IOM committee recommends getting the following amounts of vitamin D from diet or supplements :
- Infants age 0 to 6 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,000 IU/day
- Infants age 6 to 12 months: adequate intake, 400 IU/day maximum safe upper level of intake, 1,500 IU/day
- Age 1-3 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day maximum safe upper level of intake, 2,500 IU/day
- Age 4-8 years: adequate intake, 600 IU/day maximum safe upper level of intake, 3,000 IU/day
- Age 9-70: adequate intake, 600 IU/day maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
- Age 71+ years: adequate intake, 800 IU/day maximum safe upper level of intake, 4,000 IU/day
That’s not enough, says Boston University vitamin D expert Michael Holick, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics, Boston University Medical Center. Holick recommends a dose of 1,000 IU a day of vitamin D for both infants and adults — unless they’re getting plenty of safe sun exposure.
In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that breastfed infants receive 400 IU of vitamin D every day until they are weaned. This doubled the AAP’s previous recommendation.
Risks And Side Effects
What happens if you take too much vitamin D? Can you overdose on vitamin D?
Taking high doses of vitamin D causes your liver to produce a chemical called 25D, which makes calcium accumulate in your bloodstream. Youre most likely to experience symptoms of too much vitamin D when taking supplements in high doses for a long period of time. This can potentially cause side effects if levels of 25 in the blood become elevated.
Potential side effects can include high blood calcium levels exhaustion abdominal pain and digestive issues like nausea, constipation, diarrhea or loss of appetite increased thirst and dry mouth and possibly kidney stones. The best way to avoid experiencing vitamin D toxicity is to not take very high doses of vitamin D in supplement form, such as 10,000 IU per day for more than several days in a row. Instead, get the vitamin D you need from sunlight, a healthy diet and supplements in the recommended dosage range.
What Foods Provide Vitamin D
The major sources of vitamin D are fortified foods. In Canada, cow’s milk and margarine must be fortified with vitamin D. Goat’s milk, fortified plant based beverages , and some calcium-fortified orange juices are permitted to be fortified with vitamin D. Cheese and yogurt can be made with vitamin D-fortified milk, however, the final product does not contain as much vitamin D as fluid milk alone. The only natural sources of vitamin D in the Canadian food supply are fatty fish and egg yolks.
Because it is a commonly-consumed food, fluid milk is a major dietary source of vitamin D.
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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.
Clinical Trials To The Rescue
Th is dearth of evidence is likely to change soon for vitamin D because large, randomized clinical trials are already in the pipeline. Manson is a principal investigator of the largest one. The VITamin D and OmegA-3 TriaL is testing the effects of taking 2,000 IU in supplements per day versus placebo in almost 26,000 adults over age 50.The primary focus is on prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease, but data will be collected on a host of other disorders, including diabetes, hypertension, cognitive decline, depression, respiratory disorders, and autoimmune diseases. Its an ongoing five-year trial, with preliminary results expected in about three years.
Another multi-year trial based at Tufts University will test whether daily supplements of 4,000 IUs will prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes. Both trials are sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.
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Do I Need A Vitamin D3 Supplement
If youre diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor will likely recommend you take daily vitamin D supplements. If you have a severe deficiency, they may instead recommend high-dose vitamin D tablets or liquids. You should also make sure to get vitamin D through sunlight and the foods you eat.
Where Does Vitamin D Come From
Our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, though. Most kids and adults spend lots of time indoors at school and work. When outdoors, it’s important to protect skin to prevent skin cancer and skin damage from too much sun exposure.
Very few foods have vitamin D naturally. The foods with the most are fatty fish , liver, eggs and fish oils. Kids don’t eat these foods a lot. That’s why food companies add vitamin D to milk, yogurt, baby formula, juice, cereal, and other foods.
Adding vitamin D to foods is called “fortifying.” It’s helpful, but it still may not be enough.
To get enough vitamin D, children often need to take a multivitamin with vitamin D or a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is sometimes labeled as vitamin D3.
You can buy vitamin D pills, gummies, chewables, liquids, and sprays in stores without a prescription. Ask your child’s health care provider for advice on choosing the right one.
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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.
Vitamin D Is Referred To As The Sunlight Vitamin How Much Sunlight Exposure Do I Need To Receive An Adequate Amounts Of Vitamin D
When skin is exposed to sunlight cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted to previtamin D-3 which is then metabolized in the body to the active form. However, relying on sunlight to meet our vitamin D requirements is controversial due to the well-known skin damage that results from even small amounts of exposure to sunlight. It has been suggested by some vitamin D researchers that approximately 530 min of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis. However, numerous factors can reduce the skin’s ability to convert vitamin D including time of day, inclement weather or dark skin color. As well, conversion is less efficient in the skin of older persons and some individuals, such as those who are home-bound and get little to no sun exposure. Sunlight exposure through glass is ineffective in producing vitamin D because glass filters out the ultraviolet light necessary for that conversion.
Sunscreens with a sun protection factor or higher may block vitamin D-producing ultraviolet waves. However, people generally do not apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen to all sun-exposed skin and/or do not reapply it regularly so skin likely synthesizes some vitamin D even when it is protected by sunscreen as typically applied.
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What Is Osteoporosis Exactly
Osteoporosis is when the bones in the body become weak and brittle from a loss in density. Bone is living tissue that responds when it receives signals from other parts of the body. In osteoporosis its clear that the signalling system between bone and other systems is not working properly. Its known as the silent disease as most people with this condition do not realise until they break a bone. Its estimated that even after a breaking a bone, around 80% of these patients are still not diagnosed and treated for osteoporosis, the underlying disease which has caused the fracture.
Depression And Vitamin D Deficiency
For most people, low vitamin D levels tend to be more of a problem. Deficiency can have a number of health effects, including poor bone health, but it can also impact brain development and functioning. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with mental health conditions including seasonal affective disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.
However, that does not mean that boosting vitamin D can always cure depression. One randomized controlled trial found insufficient evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplementation as a treatment for depression.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, whether or not it’s seasonal, talk to your doctor before you try to self-medicate with a supplement like vitamin D. Your doctor can assess your health and determine if vitamin D might help or if some other treatment would be more appropriate.
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People Who Should Not Opt In
You should not opt in to receive the vitamin D supplement if:
- you are already taking, or are prescribed, a vitamin D supplement by your GP or healthcare professional
- you are already taking, or are prescribed, a medication that contains vitamin D by your GP or healthcare professional
- you are under the age of 18
- you have a medical condition or treatment that means you may not be able to safely take as much vitamin D as the general population
If you are one of the following groups or have any of the following medical conditions, you should not opt in through this process and you should speak to your GP or healthcare professional at your next appointment. There are some groups who need to be particularly careful including those under the care of a renal, endocrinology or cancer specialist. This could include people with high vitamin D levels, kidney stones, too much parathyroid hormone, cancer , severe kidney disease and a rare illness calledsarcoidosis.
Whats A Good Vitamin D Dosage For Osteoporosis
According to recent studies, it appears less is more when it comes to using vitamin d for safeguarding against osteoporosis.2 In fact adults who took large amounts of this vitamin daily not only didnt see additional gains in bone density, but in some cases ended up worse off. Using a more moderate dose of supplemental vitamin D in the range of 1000-2000IUs will be enough to contribute to adequate bone density levels.
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Good Sources Of Vitamin D
From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to make all the vitamin D they need from sunlight.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight. Read more about vitamin D and sunlight.
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods.
- fortified foods such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals
Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.
In the UK, cows’ milk is generally not a good source of vitamin D because it is not fortified, as it is in some other countries.
Risk Factors For Developing Osteoporosis
There are numerous risks involved with developing osteoporosis which many are unchangeable including:
Gender: Statistics show women are 5x more likely to develop this bone density condition then male counterparts.Age: The older you get the more risk you have to developing bone related conditions.Ethnicity: If youre white or asian you have a higher chance of developing osteoporosisGenetic: If there is cases of bone density conditions in your family ancestry then youre at a heightened risk.Body Frame: Those who have smaller bone structures are considered higher risk and should make sure to always have adequate nutrition levels.
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Will Vitamin D Prevent Dementia Cancer And/or Premature Death
Several studies have identified an association between vitamin D deficiency and diagnoses such as Alzheimers disease and cancer. In other words, people with these conditions tend to have low vitamin D blood levels.
But an association isnt the same thing as causation, so its not yet known whether vitamin D deficiency causes these diseases. Its also not yet known whether taking vitamin D supplements will reduce ones chance of developing these diseases.
To date, most randomized studies of vitamin D to improve health outcomes have been negative.
Although its possible that low vitamin D levels might be a factor in developing certain diseases, its probably a small effect. Cancer and Alzheimers, after all, generally seem to be the result of lots of little factors genetics, epigenetics, stress, immune function, nutrition, inflammation, toxins interacting over time.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine concluded: This thorough review found that information about the health benefits of vitamin D supplementation beyond bone healthbenefits often reported in the mediawere from studies that provided often mixed and inconclusive results and could not be considered reliable.
What Process Did The Iom Use To Conduct Its Review
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine put together a committee of scientific experts for this review of vitamin D and calcium in January 2009. As in previous DRI reviews conducted by the Food and Nutrition Board of the IOM, the expert panel reviewing the latest science related to vitamin D and calcium was made up of experts from both Canada and the U.S.
The IOM’s process for the review of data on vitamin D and calcium was rigorous. The 14-member expert committee gathered background information on the metabolism of vitamin D and calcium throughout the life cycle. Then, using a risk assessment approach, they identified potential health-outcome indicators for establishing DRIs. Important documents for this phase were the two evidence-based systematic reviews conducted by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality on the effectiveness and safety of vitamin D in relation to bone health and the relationships of vitamin D and calcium intakes to nutrient status indicators and health outcomes, conducted at the request of the U.S. and Canadian governments. The committee also performed their own systematic review of scientific literature and identified other relevant studies.
Canadian data from the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.2, Nutrition, and the Canadian Health Measures Survey were used in the IOM review.
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Does Milk Have Vitamin D
For those with dietary limitations or inadequate sun exposure, taking vitamin D supplements can help them meet that daily requirement. However, taking too much vitamin D, can have toxic effects.
Remember, the recommended daily limit for most people is 4000 IU . Vitamin D 5000 IU supplements are at the high end of the spectrum. Typical doses of vitamin D supplements come in 400 IU, 800 IU, 1000 IU, and 2000 IU.
Can Vit D3 Cause Hair Loss
Both vitamin D deficiency, as well as vitamin D excess, may cause hair loss, Chacon explains. A 2020 study in the International Journal of Dermatology found that vitamin D deficiency may also play a role in the development and severity of androgenetic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness.
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How Does Vitamin D Affect Womens Health
Sometimes a little bit of sunshine is the best medicine. A walk in the park or a bike ride probably puts you in a good mood, and a moderate amount of sun is also good for your physical health. While youre outside soaking up rays, your body is busy making vitamin D. Thats good news, because this hormone thats boosted by exposure to sunlight plays an important role in womens health.
We have known for a long time about vitamin Ds critical role in bone health. More recently, though, vitamin D has been linked to having a potential role in a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, inflammation and autoimmune disease.
Erin Michos, M.D., associate director of preventive cardiology at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, explains why vitamin D is important for womens health and how to make sure youre getting enough.