A startling trend has been observed by dietitians, nutritionists, statisticians, and doctors for the past 20 years. The trend observed has been vitamin D deficiency. The Archives of Internal Medicine reported that not only is vitamin D deficiency on the rise, it targets race and ethnicity. ((Demographic Differences and Trends of Vitamin D Insufficiency in the US Population, Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-632. 1988-2004 )) Vitamin D has many roles in body systems such as bone growth and development, immune, brain, and nervous system function, as well as pancreas, skin, muscle, cartilage and reproductive organ health. Recently, research has even linked Vitamin D with protection against the development of multiple sclerosis. The authors of this particular study suggest that the current recommend daily amount (RDA) of vitamin D at 400 IU’s is much too low. Fortunately there are measures you can take to avoid vitamin D deficiency.
1. Get it from your foods!
There are many foods that contain high levels of vitamin D such as salmon, mackerel, and egg yolks. It is important to remember if you are a vegetarian that vitamin D comes mainly from animal sources and therefore supplementation or sun exposure often is needed.
2. Get it from the sun!
Contrary to what the most frightened of experts might say, getting out into the sunshine is good for your health and may help prevent disease! When the ultraviolet rays of the sun come into contact with your skin, they are converted into previtamin D3 and will be converted into the active form cholecalciferol over the next 36 hours. A good thing to remember is that sunscreens with a “Sun Protection Factor” (SPF) higher than 8 will prohibit vitamin D synthesis so you will be better off if you put the sunscreen on after a few minutes in the sun. Most people will receive adequate vitamin D from the sun if they expose their face, hands, and arms on a clear, sunny day 3-4 days a week for around 10 minutes. Be careful not too get to much sun as the benefits of vitamin D can be outweighed by the risk of developing of skin cancer.
3. Get it from the store!
If all else fails, you can always take a pill. Vitamin D should be supplemented in its “D3″ form known as cholicalciferol as this is much better absorbed than the “D2″ form ergocalciferol. In fact, if you have the stomach for it, cod liver oil packs a serious vitamin D wallop at over 1300 IU’s per tablespoon.
That is if you have the stomach for it. 🙂
Here’s to your health!