Vitamin D

Posted by Pharmacist on August 12, 2010

Many doctors are now checking vitamin D levels at routine physicals.  Why?  Well, new research has shown that vitamin D plays a major role in 17 different types of cancer along with stroke, heart disease, diabetes, depression, hypertension, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, autoimmune disease, birth defects and more.

How do you obtain enough Vitamin D?  The easiest way is to get adequate sun exposure.  As little as 10 minutes per day of sun exposure is thought to be enough to prevent deficiencies.  Skin cancer is always a concern, so it is a fine line to obtain adequate vitamin D from the sun and to avoid some of the sun’s harmful effects.  Vitamin D is also found in dietary sources such as fortified milk, eggs, fish and cod liver oil.

Even with adequate sun and daily dietary sources, deficiencies can be found.  Recommendations for vitamin D are as follows and can usually be found in a multivitamin:

All individuals under the age of 50 years- 5 mg or 200 IU

Individuals aged 51-70 years- 10 mg or 400 IU

Individuals aged 71 and older- 15 mg or 600 IU

The upper limit for vitamin D is recommended at 2000 IU to avoid toxicities.

There are some groups that are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.

Breastfed infants. Infants who are breastfed cannot meet intake needs by human milk alone.

Americans aged 50 years and older.  With age comes a decreased ability to synthesize vitamin D as efficientls

Those with limited sun exposure. Most often those in northern latitudes or individuals with occupations that prevent any sun exposure.

People with dark skin. The pigment melanin that is present in greater amounts in darker skin, reduces the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D form sunlight exposure.

Any individual with fat malabsorption. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that requires fat to be absorbed in the gut.

As always, check with your doctor about your risk of vitamin D deficiency and appropriate doses for you.

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