Ever wonder if you’re missing out on something? Most likely, you are missing something; recent research has suggested that the vast majority of people are deficient in vitamin D, and that the recommended daily intake of 400 IU has been woefully underestimated. In addition to this, current research indicates that vitamin D’s role in human physiology is much larger than simply regulating bone development and calcium use. Long-term vitamin D insufficiency is likely an important factor in a number of serious and chronic health concerns such as:
- Diabetes Type 1
- Various Cancers (Prostate, Breast, Ovarian)
- Autoimmune Disease
- Skin Problems (ex. Psoriasis)
- Heart Disease
- Weak Immune Function
Vitamin D’s role in healthy bone development has been well known for the last century, and so widespread programs are in place in developed countries to fortify staple foods with vitamin D in order to prevent severe bone development issues in children. These policies have been successful in preventing the most severe effects of vitamin D deficiencies, diseases like rickets and osteomalacia that used to be widespread in the late 19th century. However, current research suggests that “not clinically deficient” is simply not good enough.
There are two forms of vitamin D that are available as supplements: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D3 is the kind that is produced naturally in the skin during exposure to UVB rays. Vitamin D2 is the kind that is typically added to milk products in the U.S. D3 is significantly more potent and stays active in your system for a longer period of time.
If you suspect that you are low on vitamin D, ask your healthcare provider to test your levels of serum 25 (OHD), and inquire about supplementing with vitamin D3 if the concentration in your blood is less than around 80 nmol/L. Vitamin D3 can be found in a number of foods, such as oily fish, cod liver oil, and egg yolks. Luckily, the richest dietary source of vitamin D3 is also delicious: wild (NOT farmed) salmon.
Vitamin D3 supplements are widely available as well, in a variety of forms and potencies. Vitamin D360 by Seeking Health contains 2000 IU of D3 per drop, making it the most cost effective method of taking a vitamin D supplement. Filler-free and convenient 5000 IU vegetarian capsules are also available. It is possible to experience negative side effects from too much vitamin D, so be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.
1. Grant, William B. “A critical review of Vitamin D and Cancer,” Dermato-Endocrinology vol. 1 (1): January/February 2009.
2. Muszkat P, Camargo MB, Griz LH, Lazaretti-Castro M. “Evidence-based non-skeletal actions of Vitamin D,” Arquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia y Metabologia vol. 54 (2): March 2010.
3. Elias Toubi, MD and Yehuda Shoenfeld, MD. “The Role of Vitamin D in Regulating Immune Responses,” Israeli Medical Association Journal: vol. 12: March 2010.
4. Laura A. G. Armas, Bruce W. Hollis and Robert P. Heaney. “Vitamin D2 Is Much Less Effective than Vitamin D3 in Humans,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism vol. 89: 2004
5. Nidhi Malhotra & Ambrish Mithal & Sushil Gupta & Manoj Shukla & Madan Godbole. “Effect of vitamin D supplementation on bone health parameters of healthy young Indian women,” Archives of Osteoporosis, vol. 4(1-2): Dec. 2009.
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