How to Know If You're Getting Enough Vitamin D
There are numerous health benefits to Vitamin D. Studies show that it can have effects far beyond the well established benefits to bone health, and could also reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune disease, etc. Together with Calcium, Vitamin D can help build strong bones and teeth and prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin D is unique in the sense that it is not only a vitamin but also a hormone the body can make from the sun. despite the fact that people can get Vitamin D from the sun and also from food, approximately 40 to 75 percent of people are are deficient in it.
Why is that? This is mainly because Vitamin D is not abundantly found in food, and the sun is not a reliable source for everyone. Getting Vitamin D from the sun can be affected by many factors, including the time of day, the season, air pollution, cloud cover, wearing sunscreen, age and others. Therefore it is recommended to get Vitamin D from food and supplements.
How Much Vitamin D Is Needed?
The Institute of Medicine has recommendations for how much Vitamin D people need, solely to maintain bone health. For adults up to the age of 69 the recommendation is 600 IU per day. For adults 70 and above it is up to 700 IU per day.
The reason that bone health was the only factor considered in recommendation is that the committee making the recommendations determined that there was inconclusive evidence to include any other health benefits. While other health other benefits haven’t been dismissed, there hasn’t been consistent evidence to support the role of Vitamin D.
Best Sources of Vitamin D
The sun is one of the best sources of getting Vitamin D. However, it is difficult to quantify how much Vitamin D one can actually get from spending time in the sun, and the risk of developing skin cancer may outweigh the benefits. This makes food the best source of getting the vitamin.
A diet that includes a lot of fatty fish and fish liver oil can supply plenty of Vitamin D. However, this is not everyone’s diet. Therefore taking Vitamin D supplements and eating fortified foods like milk and some yogurts and cereals can give the individual the amounts they need. Other foods like mushrooms, eggs, cheese and beef liver contain also contain the vitamin in small amounts.
Is there such a thing as too much Vitamin D? Yes. Since the vitamin is fat soluble, it can build up in the body and not be excreted as easily as water soluble vitamins. Using Vitamin D blood levels is the best estimate of adequacy that accounts for dietary intake and sunshine.
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