Why We Need Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and phosphorus from your diet and use these minerals to keep your bones, teeth and muscles strong. This helps prevent falls as you get older.
Vitamin D may have other roles in the bodys immune system and heart health too.A lack of vitamin D can cause bone problems such as rickets in children and muscle weakness and painful or tender bones in adults.
Vitamin D And Osteoporosis
In the past, scientists have become very excited about other ‘antioxidant’ vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C and E and their role in preventing heart disease. The thinking went something like this: people who eat lots of fruit and veg are less likely to have heart attacks fruit and veg are high in antioxidant vitamins antioxidants are a good thing because they mop up ‘free radicals’ which can damage DNA so if people don’t get their vitamins through fruit and veg, giving them in supplement form will be just as good. In fact, when the studies were done, topping up with supplements didn’t cut heart disease risk at all.
The new study shows a similar result for vitamin D, at least as far as fractures, falls and bone density are concerned. There is no evidence that taking supplements cuts the risk of fractures or falls, or improves bone density. So doctors need to question whether they should be prescribing to people at risk of osteoporosis, and we all have to go back to the drawing board to protect ourselves.
For strong bones, calcium is also important. Dairy products, seeds, pulses, tofu, tinned fish with bones and some green leafy vegetables are all good sources. Interestingly, calcium supplements don’t appear to help much, and recent research suggests they may actually increase the risk of heart attack, so doctors are much more wary about prescribing these too.
How Can I Get The Vitamins And Minerals I Need
It is usually better to get the nutrients you need from food, rather than a pill. Thats because nutrient-dense foods contain other things that are good for you, like fiber.
Most older people can get all the nutrients they need from foods. But if you arent sure, talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian to find out if you are missing any important vitamins or minerals. He or she may recommend a vitamin or dietary supplement.
If you do need to supplement your diet, look for a supplement that contains the vitamin or mineral you need without a lot of other unnecessary ingredients. Read the label to make sure the dose is not too large. Avoid supplements with mega-doses. Too much of some vitamins and minerals can be harmful, and you might be paying for supplements you dont need. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend brands that fit your needs.
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.
How Much Vitamin D Should I Take For Specific Conditions
How much vitamin D should I take if Im deficient?
If a blood test has revealed that youre low in vitamin D, you can either take smaller doses for a long period of time to bring your level up, such as 5,000 to 10,000 IU per day, or a high dose administered over the course of several weeks. For adults with low vitamin D levels, the Endocrine Society recommends taking at least 1,5002,000 IU per day.
If youre taking a very high dose all at once, such as more than 40,000 IU, then its possible that side effects may occur due to vitamin D toxicity. The best thing to do is talk with your doctor about supplementing with higher doses of vitamin D if you are severely deficient or have a very low level according to a blood test.
How much vitamin D should I take for depression?
Theres some evidence that low vitamin D levels are linked with depression, although this doesnt mean that vitamin D deficiency causes depression. Rather, its speculated that people who dont spend much time outside or eat vitamin D foods may also be more likely to develop depression. The dosages of vitamin D used in studies that have focused on depression have varied, typically between 600 IU/day to 4,000 IU/day.
How much vitamin D should I take to lose weight?
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How To Take Vitamin D
Most of the time, you wont find a vitamin D capsule which is exactly the same size as the daily dose you want to take. I said we would deal with that problem, and its not hard.
But I want to explain it properly, so have covered it in detail in another page Tips for Buying Vitamin D.
Got more questions? We have answers!
Why Is Vitamin D So Important
Vitamin D is one of many vitamins our bodies need to stay healthy. This vitamin has many functions, including:
- Keeping bones strong: Having healthy bones protects you from various conditions, including rickets. Rickets is a disorder that causes children to have bones that are weak and soft. It is caused by a lack of vitamin D in the body. You need vitamin D so that calcium and phosphorus can be used to build bones. In adults, having soft bones is a condition called osteomalacia.
- Absorbing calcium: Vitamin D, along with calcium, helps build bones and keep bones strong and healthy. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis, the loss of bone density, which can lead to fractures. Vitamin D, once either taken orally or from sunshine exposure is then converted to an active form of the vitamin. It is that active form that promotes optimal absorption of calcium from your diet.
- Working with parathyroid glands: The parathyroid glands work minute to minute to balance the calcium in the blood by communicating with the kidneys, gut and skeleton. When there is sufficient calcium in the diet and sufficient active Vitamin D, dietary calcium is absorbed and put to good use throughout the body. If calcium intake is insufficient, or vitamin D is low, the parathyroid glands will borrow calcium from the skeleton in order to keep the blood calcium in the normal range.
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What About Children Babies And Pregnant Women
The advice is:
- breastfed babies from birth to one year old should be given a daily supplement of 8.5 to 10 micrograms of vitamin D to make sure they get enough
- formula-fed babies should not be given a supplement until they are having less than 500ml of infant formula a day, because formula contains vitamin D
- children aged one to four should be given a daily supplement of 10 micrograms
The dose for adults applies to pregnant and breastfeeding women. A higher dose may be recommended for pregnant women with dark skin or with high-risk pregnancies.
How Do You Get Vitamin D And Calcium
Your body makes Vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sun, but several factors limit its creation:
Living anywhere in the country above latitude 33 degrees
Wearing sunscreen to protect against melanoma
Having naturally dark skin
Aging, which changes absorption ability
The amount of sun you would need to achieve normal blood vitamin D levels is probably more than is safe for your skin, so most people may need supplements to achieve a normal vitamin D level.
Either form of vitamin D benefits the body, but very few foods naturally contain the nutrient or are fortified with it. Thats why doctors recommend supplements to make up the difference. Foods containing vitamin D include:
Cod liver oil: 400-1,000 IU per teaspoon
Wild caught salmon: 600-1,000 IU per 3.5 oz
Farmed salmon: 100-250 IU per 3.5 oz
Canned salmon: 300-600 IU per 3.5 oz
Canned sardines: 300 IU per 3.5 oz
Canned mackerel: 250 IU per 3.5 oz
Canned tuna: 236 IU per 3.5 oz
Fresh shitake mushrooms: 100 IU per 3.5 oz
Sundried shitake mushrooms: 1,600 IU per 3.5 oz
Egg yolk: 20 IU per yolk
Milk, orange juice, infant formula, yogurt, margarine, butter, cheese and breakfast cereals are often fortified with vitamin D.
Calcium is found in:
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Quick Read You Probably Arent Getting The Vitamin D You Need
- In the Pacific Northwest, the sun isnt high enough in the sky in the fall and winter for the suns UVB rays to reach your skin and produce vitamin D.
- Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to a number of serious health conditions.
- A combination of food and supplementation can help you get the vitamin D you need.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, helping you build strong bones and stave off osteoporosis. Its also important for your immune system and your muscles. Typically, the sun helps your body produce all the vitamin D you need, or at least close enough that you can get the rest through your diet.
But if you live in the Pacific Northwest, theres a good chance you arent getting enough of it in the fall and winter months, says Heather Tick, M.D., a family medicine doctor at University of Washington Medical Center-Roosevelt.
This is a problem, because vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a whole host of health issues from heart disease and depression to Parkinsons disease, multiple sclerosis, dementia and Alzheimers disease. And if youre diagnosed with breast cancer or prostate cancer, your chances of survival may be lower than someone with normal vitamin D levels.
So how can you tell if you need more vitamin Dand if you should stock up on supplements to make it through the next few months? Heres everything you need to know about the sunny day vitamin.
The 16 Essential Minerals
In addition to the 13 essential vitamins your body needs, there are 16 essential minerals, all of which you might recognize from the periodic table. Unlike vitamins, minerals are inorganic, meaning they do not contain a carbon atom.
Macrominerals are the minerals that your body needs in relatively large amounts trace minerals are those that your body needs in small amounts. The essential macrominerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The trace minerals your body requires are iron, zinc, iodine, chromium, copper, fluoride, molybdenum, manganese, and selenium.
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Should Everyone Stop Vitamin D
It’s important to put this new study into context. It didn’t look at babies and children under 5, so does nothing to undermine the current Public Health England guidance that they, along with pregnant women, should take a daily supplement. People who are at risk of vitamin D deficiency because they cover up for religious reasons or don’t get outside at all should also continue to take supplementation.
In addition, this study was only looking at the impact of vitamin D on bone health. In recent years, we’ve discovered that vitamin D regulates at least 1,000 genes in the body – affecting blood vessels, immune system, muscle strength and more. Tiredness and muscle pains are the most common symptoms, but low levels have been linked to an increased risk of depression, heart disease and even multiple sclerosis.
As yet, there haven’t been any large scale studies looking at whether taking a vitamin D supplement, if you’re at risk of deficiency, protects against any of these. But vitamin D at the recommended levels doesn’t appear to have any adverse side effects: so if Vitamin D supplements does offer any protection at all, the risk: benefit ratio is likely to come down in favour of taking them.
Which Type Of Vitamin D Is Best For You
If you would like a little more of the sunshine vitamin in your life, but do not know which type of vitamin D is best for you, dont worry – were on the case!
Our nutritionists have created a handy guide outlining which type and form of vitamin D will help you thrive.
Whether you are looking for vitamin D for adults, vegans, children and babies or for when you are pregnant, there is a suitable type for everyone.
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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.
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.
What Is The Difference Between Vitamin D
There are two forms of vitamin D. Vitamin D-2 or ergocalciferol and vitamin D-3, cholecalciferol. Both forms are biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation. The first occurs in the liver which converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D , also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D , also known as calcitriol.
There are a limited number of foods that are sources of these compounds. Vitamin D-2 is found mostly in mushrooms and fortified foods such as cereal. Vitamin D-3 is found primarily in animal-based foods such as fish, liver, eggs and America’s old favorite, cod-liver oil.
While both versions are effective in increasing vitamin D concentration in the body, vitamin D-3 is thought by many to be more effective in raising vitamin D levels. It is widely available as an inexpensive over-the-counter supplement in a variety of dosage forms and dosages.
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Designs For Health Hi
The Designs for Health website says that this supplement is highly concentrated and bioavailable, meaning that it is easy for the body to absorb. It contains 2,000 IU of vitamin D in each drop, and the drops quickly disperse in liquid.
A person can add this product to drinks or put it on their tongue. However, because it is high strength, it is important not to take too much. A doctor can advise on the right amount to take.
Advice For Adults And Children Over 4 Years Old
During the autumn and winter, you need to get vitamin D from your diet because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D.
But since it’s difficult for people to get enough vitamin D from food alone, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D during the autumn and winter.
Between late March/early April to the end of September, most people can make all the vitamin D they need through sunlight on their skin and from a balanced diet.
You may choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.
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