We are all certainly deficient in some way, but there are some deficiencies that can be hazardous to your health and your mental well-being. Vitamin D is one of them.
Most of us don’t think much about vitamin D. We figure that if we drink enough milk and get outside once in a while, that our vitamin D should be fine. Unfortunately, particularly as we get older, that may not be enough.
Here are some surprising facts about vitamin D:
- Most vitamin D that we need is made in the body
- Vitamin D occurs naturally in very few foods
- According to the National Center for Health Statistics, as many as 36% of Americans are vitamin D deficient
- Vitamin D is critical to calcium absorption
- Vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to osteoporosis, osteomalacia (softening of the bones), certain cancers, autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular problems
- Men between 40 and 70 with low levels of vitamin D have higher risk of heart attack (Archives of Internal Medicine)
- 30%-40% of patients that come to the hospital with a hip fracture are vitamin D deficient
Who is at risk?
- Older adults, whose skin cannot synthesize vitamin D are efficiently and whose kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D are at risk
- If you are a strict vegetarian, you may be at risk since you don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time because most of the natural sources are animal-based (fish, fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver)
- Obese adults. Since vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, people with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D
- If you have issues with your digestive tract, you may not be able to adequately absorb vitamin D. Medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.
- Sunscreens with an SPF of 30 or above prevents you skin from producing vitamin D
What can you do?
If you are worried about your vitamin D level, a simple blood test can determine whether or not there is a problem. If you are over 50, you should have the blood test. If there is, getting out in the sun and drinking fortified milk may not be enough.
For most people over 50, 400 to 600 IU a day is recommended (the average multivitamin contains 400 IU). As you get older you need even more (up to 800 IU for someone over 70). You can’t really take too much (you would have to take 2,000 IU a day for six months to become intoxicated with vitamin D)
A blood test is the only way to test your vitamin D levels and supplements, such as the Liquid Vitamin D3 with K2, are almost the only way to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin D. Don’t underestimate the importance of this simple vitamin to your health.