How Can I Help Prevent Vitamin D Deficiency
The goals of treating and preventing the lack of vitamin D of treatment and prevention are the sameto reach and keep an adequate level of vitamin D in the body. Your healthcare provider will let you know if you need to take or keep taking vitamin D supplements. If so, they will also let you know how much you should take. You might also want to consider:
Eating more foods that contain vitamin D: See the vitamin D food sources table included in this article. Keep in mind that foods alone usually don’t meet the daily recommended levels of vitamin D.
Getting some exposure to sunshinebut not too much: Exactly how much sun exposure is needed isnt clear. 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure two to three times a week to the face, arms, legs or back may be all that is needed to absorb a suitable amount of vitamin D. You might need more sun exposure if:
- You are older.
- You have a darker skin color.
- You live in northern climates.
The use of sunscreen, and standing behind a window, prevents vitamin D from being produced in the skin. However, you should remember that too much sunshine increases the risk of skin cancer and ages the skin. That is why taking an appropriately dosed D supplement is far safer than intentionally getting routine sun exposure.
Why Were These Scientists So Interested In This Group Of Symptoms
As you probably know, vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in your intestine.
For this reason, vitamin D toxicity manifests itself in the form of hypercalcemia high blood calcium levels and hypercalciuria high urine calcium levels.
All the symptoms in our list are, in fact, the early signs of hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria.
Therefore, if you have been feeling any of these symptoms, err of the side of caution, stop supplementing and get an appointment with a knowledgeable Doctor.
Even if your symptoms are not being caused by vitamin D, a trip to the ER wont hurt you either, as the source for any of these symptoms should be understood and treated.
Confusion, for example, is a extremely serious symptom and should never be ignored even if you haven’t been supplementing with vitamin D.
How Much Is Too Much
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 400 international units for infants less than one year old, 600 IU for children, adults, and pregnant women, and 800 IU for adults over 71 years old. If you have a vitamin D deficiency, your doctor may recommend increasing the amount until your levels are restored to where they should be.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, excessive consumption of vitamin D can be harmful. Overdosing can cause hypercalcemia, which can lead to calcium deposits in your organs and soft tissues, which can be damaging and painful.
Because of this, its important to take high-quality supplements with a known and consistent dosage when youre trying to increase vitamin D levels. Of course, you always want to consult with your doctor, before making any significant changes to your diet or vitamin intake.
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Understanding Your Lab Results: All About Vitamin D
If you keep up on health news and trends, youve likely heard a lot about vitamin D and its role in bone health and supporting immunity. Youve probably also heard vitamin D deficiency is rampant in modern society.
And if you see a doctor who is up on these trends, youve likely had your vitamin D levels testing at your annual checkup.
What most people dont realize is vitamin D is crucial to not only bone and immune health, but to nearly every single bodily function and the prevention of chronic disease.
Plus, what may appear as normal on your lab panel does not necessarily equate to optimal when it comes to promoting health and longevity and preventing chronic disease.
At kNew Health we believe you have the right to fully understand your lab tests, including how to read the results, what they mean and how to optimize your lab markers to prevent disease and promote excellent health.
Which is why were kicking off our: Understanding Your Lab Results series with vitamin D.
In todays article, well teach you everything you need to know about vitamin D blood tests including:
- The role vitamin D plays throughout all your bodily systems
- The root causes of deficiency
- Optimal/functional lab marker ranges
- What you can do to optimize your vitamin D levels
- And how often to get your levels checked
What Does Vitamin D Do
In boring chemical terms, vitamin D helps regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body, both of which are central to bone strength and the immune system. Interestingly, a growing body of research shows that a vitamin d deficiency can be linked to heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis and more.
While its easy to get enough calcium and phosphate in your diet , you need to keep them within safe levels with vitamin D. If you arent able to restore vitamin D levels from sunlight or your diet, then you may be at greater risk from a vitamin D deficiency.
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What You Need To Know
Vitamin D plays an essential role in your body. According to an article on UpToDate, which was updated in February 2019, your vitamin D blood level should be at least 30 ng/mL. That means anything over 30 ng/mL is considered healthy. These ranges are often debated, but it’s generally agreed that anything under 20 ng/mL is a deficiency.
Meanwhile, a January 2018 article in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology noted that toxicity begins around 125 ng/mL. This means that the healthy range is somewhere between 30 ng/mL and 120 ng/mL, which is quite a difference.
Ways To Increase Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is a critical for good healthspecifically bone health. Appropriate levels of vitamin D can have impacts on a variety of medical conditions including7:
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Yet many adults are vitamin D deficient, with a 2011 study finding that nearly 40% of participants did not have adequate levels.2 This is due to a variety of reasons ranging from diet to geographical location, and even factors like age and race play a role.2
Before you decide to increase your vitamin D levels, its best to know where youre starting from. A normal, sufficient level of vitamin D is considered to be > 50 nmol/L.2 Taking a basic test that measures levels of vitamin D in the blood can tell you what your current levels are, and where they sit on the range of deficient to potentially toxic. Talk to your doctor about getting this test performeda Vitamin D Test from US BioTek only requires four drops of blood from a simple finger prick.
If the results of your vitamin D test indicate a deficiency, and you and your physician have determined a need to increase your levels, its time to figure out a way to do so that works for you. Below are three simple ways to get more vitamin D.
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The Best Source: Sunshine
The fastest way to increase vitamin D levels is to expose your skin to natural sunlight. It’s the vitamin D3 component of vitamin D that your skin produces when combined with sunshine. The Vitamin D Council says that in as little as 15 minutes for a fair-skinned person, the body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D. How much time you need in the sun depends on the time of day, season, where you live and skin color. Don’t worry about getting too much vitamin D from sunshine because excesses are stored in your body’s fat for later use.
Add Plenty Of Vitamin D Food Sources
“Avoid going fat-free with food, and instead add generous amounts of desi ghee, home-churned butter, kacchi ghani oils and dairy products coming from indigenous breeds of cows,” Ganeriwal mentions in her post.
Some of the best sources of vitamin D are- mushrooms, egg yolks, fatty fishes, nuts, seeds and fortified foods.
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Why Do We Need Vitamin D
The easy answer is for bones. Vitamin D facilitates absorption of calcium and phosphate, which are needed for bone growth. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones become brittle and break more easily. Vitamin D is likely beneficial for other parts of the body as well studies suggest an overall decrease in death in addition to reductions in blood pressure, respiratory illnesses, cancer, heart disease, and depression. Adequate vitamin D during pregnancy also appears to reduce the chances of having a low-birthweight baby. However, most of the effects of vitamin D have not been studied in controlled settings. Studies looking at the benefits of vitamin D on various conditions are ongoing. A small study published earlier this month suggested that high-dose vitamin D could reduce redness and inflammation following sunburns, but the dose tested far exceeded the recommended daily dose of vitamin D.
Underestimating The Impact Of Body Composition
Adiposity, or the amount of body fat one has, is one key facet of body composition . Research has repeatedly demonstrated that fat tissue is inversely correlated with vitamin D status .
The reasons are numerous and still shaking out via emerging research. One major factor is that fat tissue has a tendency to store fat-soluble compounds like vitamin D, making less of this essential nutrient available to circulate and be activated to support our cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body.*
The pragmatic bottom line here: Sub-potent vitamin D dosing that lacks personalized consideration for body composition is very common.
Clinical guidelines indicate that individuals with overweight and obesity require up to two to three times more vitamin D each day to achieve healthy 25D levels.* Partnering with a health care practitioner is important to fine-tune your personalized approach, but this means that 10,000 I.U.-plus of vitamin D3 would be a reasonable daily dose.*
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How Do I Get The Vitamin D I Need
Dont run out to the drug store to buy vitamin D pills just yet. Your body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sun, and it is estimated that most people need 1,000 to 1,500 hours of sun exposure throughout the spring, summer, and fall to obtain the necessary amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is very common and on the rise. This is mostly due to vigilant sun protection, since sunscreen with SPF 30 reduces vitamin D production by 95%. Of course, as a dermatologist I am not advocating for prolonged sun exposure, but small amounts can go a long way, as the skin produces vitamin D that can last at least twice as long the vitamin D you take in through foods or supplements. Vitamin D can also be obtained through other sources, including fatty fish , foods fortified with vitamin D , beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Of course, vitamin D supplements are needed for people most at risk for deficiency, including breastfed infants, older adults, people with limited sun exposure, darker skinned individuals, and overweight individuals.
How To Absorb More Vitamin D
1. Vitamin D Tests
Knowing how much vitamin D you need is the first step in ensuring you reach your daily needs. The 25D is the most efficient test to let you know if youre getting enough vitamin D. This test can be requested from your doctor or you can use online resources for an in-home kit.
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Magnesium is essential to ensure adequate Vitamin D absorption. Jigsaws Magnesium with SRT offers a slow release to allow maximum absorption without the typical discomfort associated with large doses of magnesium.
4. Everyday Foods to Consider
Food is part of your life. Consider your sunshine intake these past few days and swap out some of your usual foods with some of these vitamin D rich ones:
- FishThink salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and eel. A 3 oz salmon fillet contains 450 IU of vitamin D
- MushroomsRich in vitamin D2 from UV sunlight, mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D
- Almond milkWith over 100 IU of vitamin D, almond milk is always a healthy alternative to cows milk
Simple Methods to Increase Your Sun Exposure
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Vitamin D2 Vs Vitamin D: Whats The Difference
When looking at nutrition facts or vitamin D supplement options, you may notice vitamin D listed in two forms: D2 and D3.
- Vitamin D2 is found in plant-based sources like mushrooms and yeast.
- Vitamin D3 is found in animal-based sources like salmon, eggs and milk.
Research suggests D2 and D3 are equally effective in boosting vitamin D levels. Both are well-absorbed in the intestines, says Tan, who recommends and opting for whatever is most easily available.
How Much Vitamin D Is Enough
Adults and children over the age of one need 10mcg of vitamin D per day. This is the same for everyone, including people at risk of vitamin D deficiency and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Babies up to one year old need 8.5-10mcg of vitamin D per day. Find out more about how you can reach this from the NHS.
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How Much Vitamin D Do You Need
In healthy people, the amount of vitamin D needed per day varies by age. The chart below shows the often-cited recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, now the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It is important to know that these are general recommendations. If your doctor is checking your blood levels, he or she might recommend higher or lower doses based on your individual needs.
If you have osteoporosis, your doctor might suggest a blood test of your vitamin D levels. The amount of vitamin D supplement can be customized for each person, based on the results. For many older patients, a vitamin D supplement containing anywhere between 800 to 2000 IUs daily, which can be obtained without a prescription, can be both safe and beneficial. It is important to speak with your doctor about your individual needs.
|People by age|
*refers to adequate intake vs recommended dietary allowance of the other age groups.
How Much Vitamin D Does A Body Require
Usually, 1,000-4,000 IU is considered a safe daily dose for maintaining healthy levels of vitamin D. However, people may need much larger doses especially if their current levels are very low or they have limited exposure to sunlight. The optimal blood level of vitamin D is not concretely established but likely falls between 20 and 50 ng/mL. Calcium supplementation along with Vitamin D consumption is essential for structurally strong bones and muscles.
There is a significant debate about how much vitamin D is needed by the body.
- As per U.S. National Academy of Medicine: 600-800 IU of daily vitamin D is considered to be sufficient for the majority of the population. The U.S. National Academy of Medicine further suggests that a daily intake of up to 4,000 IU of vitamin D is safe for most people, although much higher doses may be temporarily necessary to raise blood levels in some individuals.
- As per U.S. Endocrine Society: 1,500-2,000 IU per day is required for the body.
- As per the Reference Daily Intake: 600-800 IU of vitamin D is recommended for adults.
- Daily consumption of more than 4,000 IU is not recommended, as it may be toxic to the body.
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Why Would Anyone Want To Lower His Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D, in itself, is mostly harmless.
You may think of it as water.
You drink it every day because it is vital for your health.
However, in rare circumstances, the water you drink can harm you.
For example, people have been known to die after drinking large amounts of water in a short time.
As reported in Scientific America, in early 2007 a woman drank some 6 liters of water in 3 hours, to win a Nintendo Wii. This led to a severe water intoxication which resulted in her death.
The same is true for vitamin D. Even though it is vital for your well-being, too much of it can harm you too.
For example, in 2006, a little Indian boy died after being prescribed an enormous amount of daily vitamin D.
Can you guess how much it took to kill this young man?
This 10-year-old was given 600,000 IU of vitamin D for 21 days, ingesting a total of 12,6 million international units of vitamin D!
You can learn more about this tragic, and preventable, death here.
Of course, you wouldnt want to get anywhere near those doses, but if you took a large amount of vitamin D for a long period of time you could be feeling the symptoms of overdose.
In such a circumstance, youd be hard-pressed to continue supplementing with vitamin D.
Getting Vitamin D From Sunlight
To make vitamin D, you need sunlight on your skin. From April until the end of September its possible to get enough vitamin D by spending time outside.
For most people, you only need to be outside for short periods of time, for example around 20-30 minutes. Although the exact time isnt known because its different for different people. If you have dark skin, for example if youre of south Asian, African or African Caribbean origin, you will need longer in the sun.
You need to have some skin exposed, for example, your forearms, hands and lower legs. But you can still make vitamin D even if you sit in the shade.
Sitting inside by a sunny window doesnt count because glass filters out the UVB rays the type of light that is needed to make vitamin D.
In the UK, we dont get enough vitamin D from sunlight between October and March, because the light doesnt contain enough UVB rays. During this time, we need to rely on getting enough vitamin D from food, and possibly supplements.
The guidelines in the UK are that everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter, especially if youre more like to have a deficiency.
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