Vitamin D – An Old Friend Finding New Respect
By Nurse Mark
Vitamin D, once dismissed as little more than “the sunshine vitamin” important only for healthy bone development in children, is suddenly finding new respect – even within the conventional medical world, which is normally quick to pooh-pooh anything natural or vitamin-related as unimportant compared to Big Pharma’s patented toxic offerings.
Vitamin D is suddenly receiving positive press on a number of fronts, and many experts are now acknowledging that vitamin D is actually misnamed; for it is more akin to a hormone than a vitamin.
Long known for it’s relationship to calcium and for it’s importance in preventing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, new research is linking vitamin D to a wide range of other health issues: it may be a major factor in the pathology of many cancers as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.
In just one of many recent medical news articles about vitamin D, researchers found that babies born to mothers who had low levels of vitamin D were far more likely to have low birth weight and other developmental problems:
“If a mother was vitamin D deficient, the birth weight of her baby was 46 g lower after accounting for other characteristics of the mom. Also if moms were vitamin D deficient in the first trimester, they had twice the risk of delivering a baby that suffered from growth restriction during the pregnancy.”
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-12-mother-vitamin-d-linked-birth.html#jCp
There is even evidence that vitamin D, taken in supplement form at 2000 to 5000 IU (International Units) daily, is highly protective against the H1N1 influenza virus (and presumably all other influenza viruses as well!)
So, how can you be sure you are getting enough of this newly respected “wonder-vitamin”? Well, they don’t call it “the sunshine vitamin” for nothing! Perhaps our most important source of vitamin D is from within our own bodies – given adequate exposure to sunlight our own skin produces vitamin D for us in healthy amounts.
Just how much sun and how much vitamin D? Medical scientists have found that the skin produces approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin D in response to as little as 20 to 30 minutes of unprotected summer sun exposure. Amazingly, that is 50 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 to 400 IU per day! (Which is why the acronym ‘RDA’ – which the government claims stands for ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ – actually means ‘Really Dumb Advice’!)
But, you say, you live in Boston, or Seattle, or Nome in Alaska, and the sun goes away in November and isn’t seen again until April (I’m kidding – sort of – I know it really does peek through the gloom of winter once or twice during that time…) or if you live in Minnesota where it’s just too cold to expose any skin for much of the winter – what then?
Well, vitamin D can be obtained from food too. Since rickets in children is such a crippling but preventable condition, governments have long encouraged the “fortification” of dairy products and breads and cereals with token amounts of vitamin D. In the United States and Canada, for example, fortified milk typically provides 100 IU per glass – a far cry from the 10,000 IU of vitamin D made by the skin in response to sunlight! Most kids love milk, but try getting a hundred glasses into a kid; at 16 glasses per gallon… well, you do the math!
Other foods high in vitamin D include fish liver oils: cod liver oil contains around 1,360 IU per tablespoon. Mom was right – and now you know why it was good for you to gag down that awful stuff!
If you don’t care for cod liver oil (and who does?) maybe you like fish better: Herring is the vitamin D champ, with a 3 ounce portion providing around 1383 IU – other fishes lag behind with catfish providing 425 IU from that 3 ounce serving and salmon giving 360 IU from a 3.5 ounce portion.
Don’t care for fish at all? Well, a whole egg will serve up a whopping 20 IU of this important vitamin…
You say you are a vegetarian? You’d better be sure you are getting plenty of sunshine, because other than tiny amounts that may be found in UV-irradiated mushrooms, there just aren’t any vegetable sources of vitamin D.
What to do? Should you just throw your hands in the air and accept the negative health consequences of vitamin D deficiency? No! You can easily achieve meaningful, health-restoring vitamin D levels with supplementation. The Wellness Club offers vitamin D in both capsules of 5000 IU per tab and liquid form that provides 2000 IU per drop. Either of these supplements makes it easy to tailor a daily dosage to your individual needs.
How can you know how much you should take? The Vitamin D Council, a non-profit group dedicated to vitamin D research and education recommends people take 5,000 IU per day for 2–3 months, then perform a vitamin D test. They then suggest adjusting the dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.
But wait – that sounds like big dose – and didn’t someone once tell you that too much vitamin D can be toxic? Maybe they did, but research does not support that concern. One source found that in adults, a sustained intake of 50,000 IU daily could produce toxicity within a few months and 40,000 IU per day in infants has been shown to produce toxicity within 1 to 4 months. That is ten times the recommended dose – so just don’t do that! And, if you are using high doses of vitamin D, vitamin D testing is good insurance and will allow you to fine-tune your dosage to your actual needs. Be careful though, since not all testing is the same and lab references and standards vary – be sure that you are comparing ‘apples to apples’ and obtaining useable results when you are tested.
The 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test (25(OH)D blood test) is a test that measures the amount of calcidiol circulating in the blood. This is the most accurate measure of the amount of vitamin D in the body. The Wellness Club offers this testing too – from a lab that adheres to standardized references and values so that you know what you are getting when you receive your results.
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