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.
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.
How Often Do You Need To Get Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
Doctors do not usually order routine checks of vitamin D levels, but they might need to check your levels if you have certain medical conditions or risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes vitamin D levels can be checked as a cause of symptoms such as long-lasting body aches, a history of falls or bone fractures without significant trauma.
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What’s The Vitamin D3 Dosage For Adults
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU per day for adults. However, some experts recommend that adults take even more up to 1000-2000 IU per day.
If you are over the age of 60, you may need even more vitamin D up to 800 IU per day.
But how much is too much?
The tolerable upper intake level for vitamin D is 4000 IU per day for adults. This is the highest level of daily vitamin D intake that is likely to pose no risks for almost all healthy people.
There are some people who may be at risk for vitamin D toxicity. This includes people who take high doses of vitamin D supplements, people with certain medical conditions, and people who are exposed to too much sunlight. If you think you may be at risk for vitamin D toxicity, talk to your doctor.
Check Your Supplements More Isnt Always Better
For Portlanders, moderate deficiency in the sunshine vitamin is about as common as a cloudy day. Since we cant get the daily sun exposure needed to synthesize our own vitamin D year-round, many of us pop a supplement to keep our levels in check and in most cases, thats a good thing. But in some cases, we could be taking too much and that can be a problem.
You need vitamin D to help you absorb calcium, among other benefits. But extra high blood levels of vitamin D may encourage your body to stash extra calcium where its not wanted in your kidneys, for example, which is why high levels of vitamin D make you more vulnerable to kidney stones. Calcium deposits in the arteries are another potential concern. High vitamin D levels also can cause nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, confusion, loss of appetite, dehydration and frequent urination.
When people have too much vitamin D in their blood, its almost always caused by over-use of dietary supplements. That doesnt mean you should stop taking vitamin D altogether, but do take a closer look at how much youre taking to make sure youre not overdoing it.
Enough vs. too much where do you draw the line?
The recommendations may vary depending on your age, health, ethnicity and even whom you ask. But as a general guideline, the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements recommends getting 15 mcg of vitamin D daily from the age of 1 through 70, and 20 mcg from age 71 on.
Two ways we get into trouble
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Does Vitamin D3 Help With Sleep
Vitamin D is essential for our bodies to function properly. Among other things, it helps us absorb calcium, build strong bones and teeth, and keep our immune systems healthy.
Most people get enough vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but some groups of people may need to take a supplement.
There is some evidence that vitamin D can help with sleep, but more research is needed in this area. If you’re having trouble sleeping, speak to your doctor about whether taking a vitamin D supplement could help you.
How Much Is Too Much
Because high doses of some supplements can have risks, how do you know when it’s OK to take more than the RDA or DV?
One way is to look for the UL of a nutrient. With many vitamins and minerals, you can safely take a dose much higher than the RDA or DV without coming close to the UL.
For instance, the average person can take more than 50 times the RDA of vitamin B6 without reaching the upper limit. But some people develop symptoms of nerve pain with these higher levels of B6. So you should always be cautious. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Some supplements are riskier than others. With some vitamins and minerals, the upper limit is pretty close to the RDA. So it’s easy to get too much. For example, a man who takes just over three times the RDA of vitamin A would get more than the upper limit. High doses of vitamin A — and other fat-soluble vitamins like E and K — can build up in the body and become toxic. Other risky supplements include the minerals iron and selenium.
Supplementsare designed to be additions to your diet. Popping pills is not the answer to good health. Experts say you should eat a well-balanced diet and take supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps. Some people take a multivitamin with minerals for nutritional insurance.
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What Does Sunlight Have To Do With Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are health benefits of sunlight. Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to sunshine, or rather, the ultraviolet B radiation that the sun emits. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on such factors as:
- The season: This factor depends a bit on where you live. In areas such as Cleveland, OH, the UV-B light does not reach the earth for six months out of the year due to the ozone layer and the zenith of the sun.
- The time of day: The sun’s rays are most powerful between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- The amount of cloud cover and air pollution.
- Where you live: Cities near the equator have higher ultraviolet light levels. It is the UV-B light in sunlight that causes your skin to make vitamin D.
- The melanin content of your skin: Melanin is a brown-black pigment in the eyes, hair and skin. Melanin causes skin to tan. The darker your skin, the more sun exposure is needed in order to get sufficient vitamin D from the sun.
Lowers The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
If you have a history of diabetes in your family or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, increase your Vitamin D intake. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes have been linked to insufficient vitamin D in recent studies. You may be able to avoid the development of type 2 diabetes by resolving insulin resistance.
Alpha-hydroxylase enzymes and VDRs, both of which contribute to glucose tolerance and resistance, are present in the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to reduce the amount of insulin produced by the pancreas, which can lead to insulin resistance and altered glucose responses in people. Given these findings, it’s worth discussing with your doctor whether taking more Vitamin D would improve your general health.
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Q: Should People Consider Vitamin D Supplements
A: If the level of vitamin D in your blood is less than 20 nanograms per milliliter, your doctor may recommend taking a supplement. Many women already take calcium and vitamin D supplements together for bone health because vitamin D can help in calcium absorption, and they work best when taken together. Ask your doctor if supplements are right for you.
Can You Take Too Much Vitamin D
While it is possible to take too much vitamin D, toxicity is very rare.
In fact, you would need to take extremely high doses of 50,000 IU or more for a long period of time .
Its also worth noting that it is impossible to overdose on vitamin D from sunlight .
Although 4,000 IU is set as the maximum amount of vitamin D you can take safely, several studies have shown that taking up to 10,000 IU daily wont cause side effects (
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How To Take Vitamin D
For best results take vitamin D once a day, with a meal, because it is a fat-soluble vitamin. If you take it on an empty stomach it is unlikely to be absorbed.
You can take it in the morning or at night, but if you tend to skip breakfast, take it in the evening, just before your evening meal.
It may be best to take it early in the evening, as there is a suggestion vitamin D can interfere with the production of melatonin. However, there is no evidence to support the fact that vitamin D disrupts sleep patterns.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluids.
If you miss a dose, skip it, but take the next one on time.
Facts About Vitamin D
Vitamin D the sun vitamin also known as cholecalciferol is one of 13 essential vitamins. Essential vitamins are those which are vital for your body to function properly.
There are two forms of vitamin D
- Vitamin D2 is ingested in your diet. Its found in oily fish, for example, mackerel, salmon, and herring. Also, in egg yolks, red meat, liver, some fat spreads, and fortified breakfast cereals. Dietary intake of vitamin D2 is especially important because human beings cannot synthesise this in the body.
- Vitamin D3 is produced in your skin when this is exposed to sunlight UVB radiation.
To remain in good health, your body needs adequate levels of both vitamin D2 and D3.
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Q: Whats The Link Between Vitamin D And Heart Health
A: That isnt entirely clear. We know that low vitamin D levels are a risk factor for heart disease, but at this time, we do not know whether treating low vitamin D with supplements can prevent a heart attack. There are a number of large clinical trials studying this now. Part of the problem with finding the answer is accounting for the many factors involved in heart disease. For example, maybe people who develop heart disease are also getting less physical activity outdoors. It may not be low vitamin D levels causing the heart disease.
Will a Daily Vitamin Help Keep Your Heart Healthy?
Are There Any Side Effects Of Taking Vitamin D
Most people don’t experience any side effects when taking vitamin D, but some people may develop a rash or itchiness. If you do experience any side effects, stop taking the supplement and speak to your doctor.
Vitamin D is generally considered safe for most adults, but it’s always best to speak to a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement.
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Q: Why Is Vitamin D Important
A: Research I have done in this area has found that people with low blood levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of a heart attack, heart failure, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure later in life. In pregnant women, low vitamin D levels are linked to pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and adverse pregnancy outcomes. No matter your age or stage of life, having adequate vitamin D levels is important.
What About Sun Exposure
The DRIs for vitamin D are set based on the assumption of minimal sun exposure. This was necessary because of public health concerns about skin cancer due to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Currently, there is a lack of information about whether sun exposure may be experienced without increasing risk of cancer.
Many people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. However, season, time of day, cloud cover, smog, skin pigmentation, and sunscreen use are all factors that can affect the amount of ultraviolet radiation received and thus vitamin D synthesis.
The DRI values have been set at levels that ensure that sun exposure is not necessary in order to obtain enough vitamin D.
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Linus Pauling Institute Recommendation
The Linus Pauling Institute recommends that generally healthy adults take 2,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily. Most multivitamins contain 400 IU of vitamin D, and single-ingredient vitamin D supplements are available for additional supplementation. Sun exposure, diet, skin color, and body mass index have variable, substantial impact on body vitamin D levels. To adjust for individual differences and ensure adequate body vitamin D status, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends aiming for a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration of at least 30 ng/mL . Observational studies suggest that serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations between 30 ng/mL and 60 ng/mL are associated with lower risks of adverse health outcomes, including cancers and autoimmune diseases.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently suggests that all infants, children, and adolescents receive 400 IU of supplemental vitamin D daily . Consistent with the recommendations of the Endocrine Society , the Linus Pauling Institute recommends daily intakes of 400 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D in infants and 600 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D in children and adolescents. Given the average vitamin D content of breast milk, infant formula, and the diets of children and adolescents, supplementation may be necessary to meet these recommendations.
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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How Much Vitamin D Should I Take If I’m Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
Pregnant and breastfeeding women need slightly more vitamin D than other adults, since they’re sharing it with their developing baby. The recommended dose is 400 IU per day.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and you think you may be deficient in vitamin D, speak to your doctor about whether you need to take a supplement.
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.
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