“If there were a miracle drug in the vitamin world it might just be Vitamin D” — Joel Fuhrman MD.
Frankly, all 13 essential vitamins are important but nutritional research into Vitamin D has become a very hot topic. The reason is simple; because it is derived from the sun and produced in the skin, the need for its supplementation, how much and in what form is attracting a great deal of debate.
Some even describe Vitamin D as a hormone, even though that appears to have been debunked—25-hydroxy-Vitamin D is appropriately described as a pre-hormone, i.e. a glandular secretory product that is converted peripherally to an active hormone.
Vitamin D insufficiency affects almost 50% of the population worldwide and over 50 million people in the US alone. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide, across all ethnicities and age groups, have a vitamin D deficiency (VDD).
Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin D deficiency…
Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can mean you have a vitamin D deficiency. However, for many people, the symptoms are subtle. Yet, even without symptoms, too little vitamin D can pose health risks. Low blood levels of the vitamin have been associated with the following:
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
- Cognitive impairment in older adults.
- Severe asthma in children.
This pandemic of “hypovitaminosis D”, which is medical speak for low vitamin D, can mainly be attributed to lifestyle (for example, reduced outdoor activities) and environmental (for example, air pollution) factors that reduce exposure to sunlight, which is required for ultraviolet-B (UVB)-induced vitamin D production in the skin.
How Much Vitamin D Do We Need?
High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency, not characterized by deficiency syndromes such as rickets, but rather subtle symptoms of decrease function, is a particularly important public health issue because low vitamin D is a now known independent risk factor for total mortality in the general population. The traditional recommended Adequate Intake (AI) for Vitamin D for most adults was 5 ug (200 IU) to 15 uf (600 IU) depending on the source and the age group. Though recently, the Institute of Medicine upped its mean recommendation of 400 IU to 600 IU for children and adults under 70 years of age and 800 IU for adults over 70 for vitamin D sufficiency. You would think the issue would have come to a rest. It hasn’t.
Current studies and consensus within the scientific community suggest that we may need more vitamin D than presently recommended to prevent chronic disease. One well-known nutritional researcher in particular who supports an increased intake of Vitamin D over IOM recommendations, at safe and tolerable limits, and who has compiled the needed insights to hang your hat on is Joel Fuhrman MD. He recently wrote about this in the Huffington Post and did a great job in his summary.
As the number of people with VDD continues to increase, the importance of this pre-hormone in overall health and the prevention of chronic diseases are at the forefront of nutritional research. As few “healthy” foods contain vitamin D, (mushrooms are one good example because fungi hang out in the sun for pretty long time) best practice guidelines recommend supplementation at suggested daily intake and tolerable upper limit levels which we will describe below.
Note, About Mushrooms: Mushrooms are one of the few plant foods which contain ergosterol, a precursor to vitamin D2. The two major physiological forms of active vitamin D for humans are ergocalciferol (D2) and cholecalciferol (D3). The amount of vitamin D2 in mushrooms can be significantly increased by exposing mushrooms to ultraviolet (UV) light
How Do You Know You’re Low?
It is also suggested you get a test to measure your serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level as the initial diagnostic test in test your body for deficiency. Treatment with either vegan D3 or animal D3 is recommended for deficient patients. See the difference between Dd and D3. A meta-analysis published in 2007 showed that vitamin D supplementation was associated with significantly reduced mortality.
Known as the “Sunshine vitamin”, most people think they’re going to get all their vitamin D from the sun. So why are so many people deficient in this all too important vitamin among other deficiencies?
For many it’s just a disbelief in supplementation, thinking it’s all about money and unnecessary when there are at least 16 reasons why you might need to supplement, even if you are eating predominantly nutrient-rich superfoods.
Regarding Vitamin D, There are 4 Primary Reasons Why You Want to Supplement. It’s simple:
- Lack of sun exposure because of indoor jobs:
- Skin color, and distance from the equator.
- Their climate (colder climates); plus,
- With the depletion of the ozone layer, the amount of sun most people would require to achieve these levels may result in too much skin damage and skin cancer.
The main risk factors for low vitamin D levels include older age, female sex, higher latitudes, winter season, darker skin pigmentation, less sunlight exposure, dietary habits, and the absence of vitamin D fortification in common foods. Further factors include the increase in urbanization, where people tend to live and work indoors, as well as cultural practices that tend towards sun avoidance and the wearing of traditional clothing that covers the skin.
For these reasons, it is appropriate to supplement with vitamin D – however, the doses in standard multivitamins (400 IU’s) are insufficient. For most supplementation with 800 to 2000 IU’s optimizes serum 25(OH) D levels (35-55 ng/ml) for protection against cancer and osteoporosis According to a review by leading nutritional researcher Joel Fuhrman MD, safely without and negative consequences.
It’s not just for your bones
Vitamin D is known to have protective effects on bone health, by increasing calcium absorption. But that’s not it. It is also has many other critical functions in the body. Vitamin D may help prevent many human diseases including several cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and autoimmune diseases. Scientists have found that Vitamin D has biological actions in almost every cell and tissue in the human body.
So when most people aren’t in the sun enough nowadays to be making sufficient vitamin D you now have a better understanding for why you must supplement vitamin D everyday.
It’s extremely important for individuals with limited sun exposure to supplement their vitamin D intake. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, is crucial for healthy immune function, and is even more effective than calcium for protecting and building bone.
Now that is amazing!
John Allen Mollenhauer is widely recognized as a leading authority on how to live a healthy performance lifestyle. John helps people renew their personal power and achieve their goals in life, business, or sport—without selling health and well-being short. He is also the creator of the new Nutrient Rich® Superfoods line: organic, non-gmo superfood products for people who want to fuel their body right on the go.
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4. Joel Fuhrman MD, drfuhrman.com/library/article24.aspx
5. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/vitamin-d-deficiency Mary Anne Dunkin, Reviewed by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on May 24, 2014