Vitamin D - a dilemma of modern life
It is estimated that up to 90% of Americans have sub-optimal levels of Vitamin D without even realising it.
Vitamin D is a micronutrient that plays a vital role in bone formation, mood regulation and numerous other bodily functions. While it has been enshrined as one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, it is not technically a vitamin. Like other vitamins, it is essential for health and well-being and only very small amounts are required.
However, it is unlike any other vitamin in that it is produced by the human body rather than derived from other sources such as food. Vitamin D is found in limited food sources such as egg yolks and fish but even when eaten, it still has to go through a transformation process before it can be used by the human body. How do our bodies create Vitamin D?
Sunlight is the key. Ultraviolet B (UVB) energy converts a natural chemical present in our skin into vitamin D3 which is then carried to the liver and then the kidneys to transform it into active vitamin D.
The Dilemma of Modern Life
It used to be simple: get enough daylight and your body will create all the Vitamin D you need. However, sunscreen and desk jobs or any indoor based careers have changed all of that. Not only that but people living in more northerly latitudes simply won’t get enough Vitamin D from daylight, especially during Winter. Basically, anyone living north of the 37-degree-latitude line which is roughly the imaginary line from Philadelphia to San Francisco. Conversely, people who live in sunnier climates south of this latitude can actually overdose on UVB which can increase the risk of skin cancer, wrinkling and premature ageing. That’s why most doctors will recommend avoiding sunlight and taking Vitamin D orally instead.
How much Vitamin D do we need?
Up until 1997, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), for Vitamin D was 200 IU for adults. However, with growing evidence of Vitamin D deficiencies in Americans, the RDA was increased to to 400 IU for 71-70 year olds and to 600 IU for people older than 70. New research suggests that more is actually better with many authorities recommending 800 to 1000 IU per day. Just like anything, you can also have too much of a good thing and so overdosing on Vitamin D can be toxic. However, it takes very large doses to produce toxicity and doses of up to 2000 IU are considered safe.
Getting enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D supplements are essential as it’s difficult to get enough from food sources alone. Oily fish is best but to get 400 UI, you’d need to consume 5oz of salmon, 7oz of halibut, 30 oz of cod or nearly 2 8oz cans of tuna. An egg yolk will provide around 20 IU. Other foods are sometimes fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, yoghurt and cereals but it can be tricky to eat enough to get the required daily quantities of Vitamin D. A quality Vitamin D supplement is therefore the best way to ensure an optimal daily intake of Vitamin D to support your mind and body. Beware – Vitamin D deficiency is very common and often goes undetected. Some of the most common side effects of a deficiency to look out for include chronic fatigue, irritability, skin problems, bone abnormalities and even reductions in muscle strength.
Make sure your not Vitamin D deficient by taking a good quality, easily absorbable Vitamin D supplement