Vitamin D

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vitamin d

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin with properties of both a vitamin and a hormone.

It’s needed for the absorption and utilization of calcium and phosphorus.

It’s necessary for growth, and is especially important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth in children.

It protects against muscle weakness and is involved in regulation of your heartbeat.

It’s also important in the prevention and treatment of breast and colon cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and hypocalcemia; enhances immunity; and is necessary for thyroid function and normal blood clotting.

There are several forms of vitamin D, including vitamin D2, which comes from food sources; vitamin D3, which is made in your skin in response to exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays; and a synthetic form known as vitamin D5.

Of the three, vitamin D3 is considered the natural form of vitamin D and is thought to be the most active.

The form of vitamin D we get from food or supplements isn’t fully active.

It needs to be converted by your liver, and then by your kidneys, before it becomes fully active.

This is why people with liver or kidney disorders are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.

When your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, a compound in your skin is changed into a precursor of vitamin D.

Exposing your face and arms to the sun for 15 minutes 3 times a week is an effective way to get adequate amounts of vitamin D in your body.

Vitamin D has been an ignored vitamin until recently.

Studies have shown at least 40% of people have less-than-optimal levels of this vitamin in their blood.

As much as 70-80% of Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans may be deficient in vitamin D.

Those with more coloring in their skin have a harder time absorbing vitamin D from sunlight.

In addition, those who live above the 37th parallel get virtually no vitamin D from sunlight between November and March.

Not getting enough vitamin D in your diet or from direct sunlight has been linked to the development of several diseases including heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancers like breast and colon.

As baby boomers age, the risk of osteoporosis increases.

Taking more than 400 IU of vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by 20% in those over 65 years of age.

But how much is needed for optimal health is still open for debate.

Some have argued it’s necessary to consume very high amounts of vitamin D – in excess of the UL for safety – in order to keep blood levels associated with reducing the risk of disease.

Before the FDA considers increasing the UL for vitamin D, more research is needed to assure there’s no risk of toxicity at the upper levels.

We don’t recommend exceeding the UL for vitamin D until further research has been done.

Sources

Fish liver oils, fatty saltwater fish (especially mackerel), dairy products, and eggs all contain vitamin D.

It’s also found in butter, cod liver oil, dandelion greens, egg yolks, halibut, liver, milk, shiitake and chanterelle mushrooms, oatmeal, oysters, salmon, sardines, sweet potatoes, tuna, and vegetable oils.

Herbs containing vitamin D include alfalfa, nettle, and parsley.

Vitamin D is also formed by your body in response to sunlight on your skin.

Of all the nutrients, this is one of a few that’s hard to reach the DRI from food alone so supplementation may be needed.

Comments

Intestinal disorders and liver and gallbladder malfunctions interfere with the absorption of vitamin D.

Some cholesterol-lowering drugs, antacids, mineral oil, and steroid hormones like cortisone also interfere with absorption.

Thiazide diuretics such as chlorothiazide (Diuril) and hydrochlorothiazide disturb your body’s calcium/vitamin D ratio.

Taking excessive amounts of vitamin D (over 1,000 IU) daily may cause a decrease in bone mass.

Cautions

Toxicity may result from taking excessive amounts of supplemental vitamin D.

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