Vitamin D and the Importance of SupplementationMarch 2, 2021
The most common food sources of vitamin D are derived from animal origin, but most natural foods are a poor source comprising less than ten percent of the RDA. Most people are not aware that 90% of vitamin D comes from the sun. Food sources like milk, margarine and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D and contribute to 50% of our vitamin D intake, but what do those individuals who do not consume dairy or orange juice do? To cover the deficiency, supplementation is key to fill in the gap that is present.
Vitamin D and the Importance of Supplementation
Have you ever gotten a sunburn by sitting near a window where there was ample sunlight on a hot day or heard that you can get vitamin D by sitting near a window? You may have felt your skin get warm but it is not possible to get sunburnt because sunlight does not penetrate through glass the same way that direct sunlight can. Direct sunlight, full body torso exposure, of thirty minutes at noon can produce 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 giving you your 90-95% daily requirement. Geography, season, time of day, cloud cover, air pollution, weight, clothing choice and time spent outdoors all impact vitamin D exposure. Your age and skin tone also affect how your body processes sunlight. Numerous studies have been conducted, with the African American population, in association with vitamin D deficiency, relating to higher incidence of cancer, diabetes and autoimmune disease.
Health Concerns From Vitamin D Deficiency
Not having enough of this particular vitamin does influence a lot of different health concerns. Osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, respiratory disease and diabetes mellitus are the top six vitamin D sensitive conditions. If you could prevent a major medical condition with just some simple changes, would you not try? Taking a daily supplement and introducing vitamin D rich foods are a start.
Based on geographical location, the risk of developing cancers of colon, breast and prostate nature are associated with living at higher latitudes because they are extremely deficient of adequate vitamin D. Taking just 2,000 IU/day would raise serum vitamin D levels enough to prevent 50,000 cases of colon cancer per year in North America. Taking 3,500 IU/day would raise serum vitamin D levels enough to prevent 80,000 cases of breast cancer per year in North America. Lastly, taking more than 500 IU/day of vitamin D decreases type 2 diabetes by 13%. Once again vitamin D is essential to help prevent these conditions.
What Does Vitamin D Deficiency Present As?
What does vitamin D deficiency present as? Most commonly patients present with muscle weakness and pain, increased falls and difficulty rising from sitting. Supplementation of just 800-1000 IU/day of vitamin D can improve muscle strength and prevent falls like in our elderly population or homebound individuals. Now that we have all these facts and figures with dosage, what is an adequate dosage for daily use? The RDA (recommended daily amount) is 4,000 IU/day. Overdosing on this vitamin can cause hypercalcemia, hypertension, anorexia, nausea, weakness and renal dysfunction. So while it is important to implement vitamin D in your supplement routine, do not follow the philosophy of taking extra to be on the safe side.
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By: Dr. Rani Sabri
Source: Dr. Marc McRae, National University of Health Sciences