Monday, December 15, 2008

Vitamin D Delima


What does vitamin D do?
The medical books will tell you the function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. It is also helps neuromuscular and immune system (lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue just to name a few) to function properly and reduce systemic inflammation.

The classic explanation of vitamin D deficiency is it caused rickets (soft bones) and osteomalacia. In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, which results in skeletal deformities. In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, which results in muscular weakness in addition to weak bones. Populations who may be at a high risk for vitamin D deficiencies include the elderly, obese individuals, exclusively breastfed infants, and those who have limited sun exposure. However, we now know there is more to the vitamin D story.

The new information is vitamin D reduces your risk.
Recently, research suggests vitamin D may provide protection from osteoporosis, hypertension (high blood pressure), cancer (colon and skin), heart attack/failure, stroke, depression and several autoimmune diseases.

Vitamin D and the sun.
Although you do get vitamin D from the sun there is a great deal of controversy as to how much sun exposure it would take to give you the amount of vitamin D required to maintain good health. However, most experts agree the the past standard of 10 - 15 minutes in the sun each day is not enough.

If you live in a place that gets very little sunshine, especially during the winter months, it’s harder to get enough vitamin D. To figure out if you live in one of these places, look at a map of the United States and imagine a line running between San Francisco and Philadelphia. If you live North of this imaginary line, it is necessary for you (during the winter) to get your daily intake of vitamin D through food or supplements.

How much do I need?
For adults: Between 1,000 iu and 4,000 iu of vitamin D3.
For children: www.aap.org American Academy of Pediatrics

In today's environment, worry of UV exposure and current lifestyle trends it is very difficult to obtain the amount of vitamin D3 needed to reduce your risk of major diseases and provide your body with sufficient amounts to sustain good health. Therefore supplementation is a good idea.

When supplementing always remember to look for brands that are non-toxic. With vitamin D3 look for a product that is free of mercury and has third party research to prove it is mercury free. All brands are not created equal. A good resource is www.consumerlabs.com.

Vitamin D the test.
A blood test is available. Low blood levels of 25 hydroxy vitamin D may mean that you are not getting enough exposure to sunlight or enough dietary vitamin D to meet your body’s demand.

Vitamin D is in food too?
Cod liver oil 1 TB 1,360 iu
Shitake mushrooms 4 dried 249 iu
Eggs (organic) yoke 26 iu
Tofu 3 oz. 120 iu
Salmon, Mackerel, Sardines 3 oz. 530 iu
Tuna fish, canned in oil, 3 oz 200 iu
Fresh Herring 3 oz. 1,383 iu
Pickled Herring serv. 578 iu

Some foods are fortified (orange juice, cereal, milk) with Vitamin D however not a good source since it does not occur naturally in these foods.

Remember, the sunshine vitamin may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. What's more, sunlight has other benefits such as protecting you against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system.

Be sure and take care of yourself ... if you don't who will?