This time of year, I find myself talking a lot about vitamin D, but I have to remind myself to also talk about what vitamin D is and does and why the hell it’s so important. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that plays a big role in the regulation and absorption of calcium and phosphorous, making it an important factor in bone health. It’s also important in many body processes, including immune function. There has been a lot of research on its effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and some forms of cancer, among numerous other conditions. It’s also been used to treat certain skin ailments.
Current vitamin D recommendations are 400 IU per day for infants up to 12 months, and then 600 IU per day for kids and adults ages 1-70. Adults over 70 need about 800 IU per day.
In this part of the world, many of us are deficient in vitamin D, in no small part because we spend so much time indoors. Most of the vitamin D we synthesize and absorb comes from the sun. The get what we need, most doctors recommend 10-15 minutes of exposure. The way it works is thats unlight converts 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin to previtamin D3, which is then converted to vitamin D3 and enters the blood. Okay, end of biochem lesson.
Food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna. If cod liver oil if your thing, that’s an option too. Eggs and some types of mushrooms are also great sources. To make vitamin D more widely available, foods such as milk, cereal, and orange juice are often fortified with it.
Vitamin D supplements are also a convenient, cost effective way to make sure you get enough. In my day-to-day work with overall healthy people, I usually recommend 1000 IU of vitamin D3 per day or sometimes 2000 in the winter months. For people with diagnosed deficiencies, higher doses, sometimes given on a weekly basis may be appropriate, though a prescription may be required.
Do you pay attention to your vitamin D intake?