The Vitamin D Decision
My Peeps are always asking me if and why they need supplements. Ultimately YOU decide. I give you the best info I have and you make an educated choice. That My Paisanos is what empowered health is all about. So here I’m going to talk about Vitamin D with and you can decide how you would like to roll with the info. For me, I go mostly with food. Get my levels checked and supplement when they are low with a fabulous source I trust. So here’s some food for thought on D…
What vitamin deficiency affects over half of the population, is almost never diagnosed, and has been linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain, bone loss, and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis?
What vitamin is almost totally absent from our food supply?
What vitamin is the hidden cause of so much suffering that is so easy to treat?
The answer to all of these questions is vitamin D.
Two recent studies in the journal Pediatrics found that 70 percent of American kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D, and this puts them at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and lower levels of good cholesterol. Low vitamin D levels also may increase a child’s risk of developing heart disease later in life.
Overall, 7.6 million, or 9 percent, of U.S. children were vitamin-D deficient, and another 50.8 million, or 61 percent, had insufficient levels of this important vitamin in their blood.
How Vitamin D Regulates Your Cells and Genes
Vitamin D has a huge impact on the health and function of your cells. It reduces cellular growth (which promotes cancer) and improves cell differentiation (which puts cells into an anti-cancer state). That makes vitamin D one of the most potent cancer inhibitors — and explains why vitamin D deficiency has been linked to colon, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.
But what’s even more fascinating is how vitamin D regulates and controls genes.
It acts on a cellular docking station called a receptor that then sends messages to our genes. That’s how vitamin D controls so many different functions — from preventingcancer, reducing inflammation, boosting mood, easing muscle aches and fibromyalgia, and building bones.
These are just a few examples of the power of vitamin D. When we don’t get enough it impacts every area of our biology, because it affects the way our cells and genes function. And many of us are deficient for one simple reason …
For example, one study found that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of getting type 1 diabetes by 80 percent.
Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. In fact, 80 to 100 percent of the vitamin D we need comes from the sun. The sun exposure that makes our skin a bit red (called 1 minimum erythemal dose) produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in our bodies.
The problem is that most of us aren’t exposed to enough sunlight. Overuse of sunscreen is one reason. While these product help protect against skin cancer — they also block a whopping 97 percent of your body’s vitamin D production.
If you live in a northern climate, you’re not getting enough sun (and therefore vitamin D), especially during winter. And you’re probably not eating enough of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D: fatty wild fish like mackerel, herring, and cod liver oil.
Plus, aging skin produces less vitamin D — the average 70 year-old person creates only 25 percent of the vitamin D that a 20 year-old does. Skin color makes a difference, too. People with dark skin also produce less vitamin D. And I’ve seen very severe deficiencies in Orthodox Jews and Muslims who keep themselves covered all the time.
With all these causes of vitamin D deficiency, you can see why supplementing with enough of this vitamin is so important. Unfortunately, you aren’t really being told the right amount of vitamin D to take. The government recommends 200 to 600 IU of vitamin a day. This is the amount you need to prevent rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. But the real question is: How much vitamin D do we need for OPTIMAL health? How much do we need to prevent autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, depression, osteoporosis, and even cancer?
The answer is: Much more than you think.
Recent research by vitamin D pioneer Dr. Michael Holick, Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, recommends intakes of up to 2,000 IU a day — or enough to keep blood levels of 25 hydroxy vitamin D at between 75 to 125 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter). That may sound high, but it’s still safe: Lifeguards have levels of 250 nmol/L without toxicity. Our government currently recommends 2,000 IU as the upper limit for vitamin D — but even that may not be high enough for our sun-deprived population! In countries where sun exposure provides the equivalent of 10,000 IU a day and people have vitamin D blood levels of 105 to 163 nmol/L, autoimmune diseases (like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus) are uncommon.
Don’t be scared that amounts that high are toxic: One study of healthy young men receiving 10,000 IU of vitamin D for 20 weeks showed no toxicity. The question that remains is: How can you get the right amounts of vitamin D?
6 Tips for Getting the Right Amount of Vitamin-D
Unless you’re spending all your time at the beach, eating 30 ounces of wild salmon a day, or downing 10 tablespoons of cod liver oil a day, supplementing with vitamin D is essential. The exact amount needed to get your blood levels to the optimal range (100 to160 nmol/L) will vary depending on your age, how far north you live, how much time you spend in the sun, and even the time of the year. But once you reach optimal levels, you’ll be amazed at the results.
For example, one study found that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of getting type 1 diabetes by 80 percent. In the Nurses’ Health Study (a study of more than 130,000 nurses over 3 decades), vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of multiple sclerosis by 40 percent.
I’ve seen many patients with chronic muscle aches and pains and fibromyalgia who are vitamin D deficient — a phenomenon that’s been documented in studies. Their symptoms improve when they are treated with vitamin D.
Finally, vitamin D has been shown to help prevent and treat osteoporosis. In fact, it’s even more important than calcium. That’s because your body needs vitamin D to be able to properly absorb calcium. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the intestine absorbs only 10 to 15 percent of dietary calcium. Research shows that the bone-protective benefits of vitamin D keep increasing with the dose.
So here is my advice for getting optimal levels of vitamin D:
- Get tested for 25 OH vitamin D. The current ranges for “normal” are 25 to 137 nmol/L or 10 to 55 ng/ml. These are fine if you want to prevent rickets — but NOT for optimal health. In that case, the range should be 100 to 160 nmol/L or 40 to 65 ng/ml. In the future, we may raise this “optimal” level even higher.
- Take the right type of vitamin D. The only active form of vitamin D is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Look for this type. Many vitamins and prescriptions of vitamin D have vitamin D2 — which is not biologically active.
- Take the right amount of vitamin D. If you have a deficiency, you should correct it with 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day for 3 months — but only under a doctor’s supervision. For maintenance, take 2,000 to 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D3. Some people may need higher doses over the long run to maintain optimal levels because of differences in vitamin D receptors, living in northern latitudes, indoor living, or skin color.
- Monitor your vitamin D status until you are in the optimal range. If you are taking high doses (10,000 IU a day) your doctor must also check your calcium, phosphorous, and parathyroid hormone levels every 3 months.
- Remember that it takes up to 6 to 10 months to “fill up the tank” for vitamin D if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 to 4,000 Units a day.
- Try to eat dietary sources of vitamin D. These include:
And the winner is………..Grandma! Yes, she was right..Cod Liver Oil Rocks!
#1 Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil has been a popular supplement for many years and naturally contains very high levels of vitamin A and vitamin D. Cod liver oil provides 10001IU (1667% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 1360IU (340% DV) in a single tablespoon.
Various types of fish are high in vitamin D. Typically raw fish contains more vitamin D than cooked, and fatty cuts will contain more than lean cuts. Further, fish canned in oil will have more vitamin D than those canned in water. Raw fish is typically eaten in the form of sushi. Raw Atlantic Herring provides the most vitamin D with 1628IU (1667% DV) per 100 gram serving, 2996IU (499% DV) per fillet, and 456IU (76% DV) per ounce. It is followed by Pickled Herring with 680IU (113% DV) per 100g serving, Canned Salmon (127% DV), Raw Mackerel (60% DV), Oil Packed Sardines (45% DV), Canned Mackerel (42% DV), and oil packed Tuna (39% DV).
In addition to vitamin D, Oysters are a great source of vitamin b12, zinc,iron, manganese, selenium, and copper. Oysters are also high incholesterol and should be eaten in moderation by people at risk of heart disease or stroke. Raw wild caught Eastern Oysters provide 320IU (80% DV) per 100 gram serving, 269IU (67% DV) in six medium oysters.
#4 Caviar (Black and Red)
Caviar is a common ingredient in sushi and more affordable than people think. Caviar provides 232IU (58% DV) of vitamin D per 100 gram serving, or 37.1IU (9% DV) per teaspoon. And it’s so glamourous!
In addition to vitamin D, eggs are a good source of vitamin B12, andprotein. Eggs provide 37.0IU (9% DV) of vitamin D per 100 gram serving, or 17.0IU (4% DV) in a large fried egg.
More than just a high vitamin D food, mushrooms also provide Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) and copper. Lightly cooked white button mushrooms provide the most vitamin D with 27.0IU (7% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 7.6IU (2% DV) per ounce. Be careful with raw mushrooms. I think they are pretty tricky to digest. I suggest ALWAYS eating them cooked.
So I say…check it out. Get your vitamin D tested. Information is power. See what you think, and feel free to ask me any and all questions. I love talking about this stuff.
Love and lots of Salmon,
Ciao for now,
I live WAY upstate NY and they say that everyone here is low in vitamin D and they don’t even bother checking us anymore. They say we can take some OTC supplements if we want, but they’ve never given us the information you have. Thank you very much. I didn’t know anything about mushrooms giving you vitamin D, and I could eat my own weight in them. 🙂
I live in sunny California, but I’m pale and look 10 years younger than I am because I never let my skin see the sun, and I’m not about to ruin it now… so I take a D supplement. I really do notice when I stop taking it for a while. I can’t eat fish so I have to take a special one, but it’s worth the price for me.