By Dr. Karen Carbone


Iíve heard quite a bit about Vitamin D recently.  How do I know if I am getting enough?

Vitamin D has been a focus topic in both conventional and alternative medicine circles recently.  This is because studies have been done that demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency is quite prevalent and is related to many health concerns, such as cancer, osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, immune function, and other chronic conditions.

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin but is a precursor hormone; it is a building block of a steroid hormone in the human body called calcitriol.  Vitamin D works along with other nutrients and hormones to facilitate healthy bone renewal.  Researchers have also discovered that vitamin D promotes normal cellular growth to maintain hormonal balance and a strong immune system.

The body does not create vitamin D on its own.  Vitamin D is the sun vitamin.  It is manufactured through exposure to the sun.  Your body can make an ample supply of vitamin D with only a few hours per week of sun exposure; provided the UVB rays are strong enough.  Here is where the Northwest in winter time falls woefully short.  Vitamin D can also be taken in by eating foods such as fortified dairy products, cod liver oil or wild salmon.

Vitamin D Requirements

Currently the published RDAís for vitamin D are as follows:  Adults 19-50, 200 iu/day; adults 51-70, 400 iu/day; adults over 70, 600 iu/day.  Recent studies have shown that adults need 2,000-5,000 iu/day. Just recently the RDA for children was increased from 200 to 400 iu/day.

The bioavailable (readily useable) forms of vitamin D are not necessarily equal.  A few moments of exposure to the sun can produce 10,000-15,000 IU of vitamin D3 in the skin.  The skin has a natural shut-off valve to prevent overexposure build up of this fat soluble vitamin/hormone.  When we ingest vitamin D through diet or supplements, they enter the system through the intestinal tract, thus bypassing the skinís natural shut-off valve.

For those of us living above the 40th latitude, the sun is only strong enough between May and September to trigger the vitamin D conversion.  Therefore, much of the year Whidbey Islanders are at significant risk of vitamin D deficiency.

It is important to note that as we age we lose some of our ability to absorb and synthesize vitamin D.  Adequate vitamin D intake will have a positive effect on bone density in perimenopausal and menopausal women.  There is also benefit to the bones of elderly people who are more prone to falls and fractures.

There are ongoing studies to document the many mechanisms of vitamin D in the body.  Bottom line:  Our bodies rely on a certain amount of vitamin D and many of us arenít getting enough.  The only way to know whether you are deficient in vitamin D is to ask your healthcare provider for a blood test.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

While vitamin D deficiency is often unnoticed to the individual, there are several symptoms of which to be aware.  They include muscle pain, low energy and fatigue, depression, sleep irregularities, low bone density, lowered immunity, and mood swings.  Also, anyone with renal problems or intestinal issues may be deficient in vitamin D because they are unable to absorb or convert the nutrient.

My recommendation is to have your vitamin D level tested.  Eat a diet rich in whole foods with an emphasis on those containing, or fortified with, vitamin D.  Take a good multivitamin supplement as an insurance policy for all dietary deficiencies, not just vitamin D.  And, finally, consider supplementing with vitamin D3 up to 2,000 IU per day.

From our Nature's Blend Vitamin Line, the following strengths are available online for purchase:
400 IU | 1000 IU | 2000 IU

The above article is general information that is in no way intended to treat, diagnose, or cure any medical condition.  Further it is not intended, nor recommended, that this information
be used without the supervision of your medical provider.