It’s unlikely that you or anyone you know has had rickets, the extreme case of vitamin D deficiency. But many people have serum vitamin D levels near what the medical community would consider deficient. At these depressed levels, you may not feel symptomatic, but will likely miss the benefits of an adequate amount of vitamin D circulating throughout your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, adequate vitamin D can help you avoid winter maladies like seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and can boost your immune system to prevent the flu. And there is compelling research which links adequate vitamin D intake to the prevention of more serious ailments like heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, depression and even cancer.
Are you are taking vitamin D supplements?
If you aren’t getting vitamin D from the sun or from supplementation, you are most likely deficient. I was!
To illustrate my point, here are the results of two vitamin D tests I had a couple of years ago. In December 2009, after consuming a daily dose of 2000 International Units (IU) of vitamin D from cod liver oil (CLO) my level was only 22 ng/mL, which put me at borderline deficient, but actually higher than most Americans.
My second measurement was taken four months later (April 2010) after adding a daily dose of 5000 IU to the 2000 IU I was getting from CLO. My test results indicated that I had brought my level up to 46 ng/mL, a much more appropriate reading.
What Do the “Experts” Say?
In late 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a 999 page report with updated recommendations for vitamin D intake. The report impressively tripled the recommended intake of vitamin D from 200 IU per day to 600 IU.
On the surface this seems like a significant change, but many prominent healthcare providers think the recommendations are woefully inadequate. This article, Why Many Experts Take Issue with the IOM’s New Recommendations, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman provides a thoughtful rebuttal.
What level of vitamin D is appropriate?
What is the appropriate level of vitamin D supplementation that elevates us above deficiency into a more ideal range? Should we rely on the advice of the IOM or should we be supplementing at levels approaching 10,000 IU?
This article, What is a reasonable vitamin D level, provides a thoughtful starting point for some intelligent research. We know that with a limited amount of sun exposure during the summer, our bodies can make around 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Certainly our early tropical ancestors spent a lot of time in the sun. Modern humans: not so much.
However, some people are pushing their levels extremely high through daily supplementation above 10,000 IU. As Chris Masterjohn states in this article:
“…if you are trying desperately to maintain year-round 25(OH)D status between 50-80 ng/mL using vitamin D supplements, you have entered the land of speculation. Enter at your own risk.”
What about you? Do you take some form of vitamin D supplementation and if so, how much?
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