Over the past ten years, few supplements have been marketed as effectively as vitamin D. Between 2002 and 2011, over-the-counter sales increased more than ten-fold, much to the delight of many physicians. But this year, the CDC released a study that suggests fewer than eight percent of Americans are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, while it would require a large dosage, there is a risk of over-taxing your body, which can lead to kidney damage. In light of this information, here is a summary of vitamin D benefits, the recommended dosage and who should think about taking supplements.
Recent studies have confirmed conventional wisdom about vitamin D: it helps build stronger bones. It has also been shown to prevent certain types of cancer, dementia, diabetes and other diseases. The main source of vitamin D comes from the sun. Certain foods such as milk, cheese and orange juice are often fortified with the vitamin. The nutrient is vital to many aspects of your health, so these main sources are important to keep in mind when considering adding supplemental vitamin D to your diet.
There is no general consensus about how much vitamin D is necessary. National trends show that people are spending less time in the sun and are drinking less vitamin D-fortified milk. Data also demonstrates that our population is aging and becoming more overweight, which hinders vitamin D efficiency because older people do not synthesize it as well and fatty tissue sequesters it at high levels. How much you should take depends on who you ask. Recommended supplemental dosages range from 600 IUs (international units) to 5,000 IUs per day. A 2016 study by the National Institutes of Health on vitamin D will likely shed more light on how much is appropriate for daily consumption, but until then, disagreements over usage will continue to make decisions difficult for all of us.
So who really needs to supplement? Multiple studies have confirmed that skin color plays a prominent role. Most African-Americans should at least consider taking a supplement, as a CDC report demonstrates that the majority of African-Americans have insufficient blood levels of vitamin D. This is in contrast to the twelve percent of Mexican Americans and three percent of whites whose blood levels are low. Dark skin, acting as a natural sun block, shields the underlying metabolic processes from UV exposure, decreasing the amount of vitamin D synthesis that occurs. Older people should also consider supplementing, as they are at a greater risk of falling, and having stronger bones will lessen the impact of such accidents. People who live in the northern parts of the country or who spend much of their time indoors should also think about taking extra amounts of the vitamin. Finally, winter time everywhere is generally a good time to supplement, as sunlight is at a premium in many places.
Currently, there are few risks associated with taking too much vitamin D. However, knowing what is the ideal amount for you can help you be as healthy as possible, regardless of your ethnicity, age, or place of residence. Vitamin D is studied extensively across the country, so keep current with the latest news and information available.