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What You Need to Know about Vitamin D

October 16, 2009

The RDA for vitamin D3 cholecalciferol (pronounced koh·luh·kal·sif·uh·rawl) is 200 IU per day for most people. This is way too small. New research by Dr. Michael Holick is showing that we need closer to 5,000 IU per day!

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to:

17 varieties of cancerheart disease, stroke and hypertension
autoimmune diseases
Diabetes
Depression
chronic pain
Osteoarthritis
Osteoporosis
muscle weakness
muscle wasting
birth defect
periodontal disease

..and many other disorders. This new research on Vitamin D shows just how much vitamin D our body will easily and readily produce with proper exposure to sunlight and  has profound implications for human health and disease prevention.

Technically not a “vitamin,” vitamin D is in a class by itself. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a secosteroid hormone that targets over 2000 genes (about 10% of the human genome) in the human body. Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more.

Vitamin D’s influence on key biological functions vital to one’s health and well-being mandates that vitamin D no longer be ignored by the health care industry nor by individuals striving to achieve and maintain a greater state of health.

Sunshine and Your Health

If well adults and adolescents regularly avoid sunlight exposure, research indicates a necessity to supplement with at least 5,000 units (IU) of vitamin D daily. To obtain this amount from milk one would need to consume 50 glasses. With a multivitamin more than 10 tablets would be necessary. Neither is advisable.

The skin produces approximately 10,000 IU vitamin D in response 20–30 minutes summer sun exposure—50 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 200 IU per day!

How To Get Enough Vitamin D

There are 3 ways for adults to insure adequate levels of vitamin D:

  • regularly receive midday sun exposure in the late spring, summer, and early fall, exposing as much of the skin as possible.
  • regularly use a sun bed (avoiding sunburn) during the colder months.
  • take 5,000 IU per day for three months, then obtain a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Adjust your dosage so that blood levels are between 50–80 ng/mL (or 125–200 nM/L) year-round.

For more information about Vitamin D, check out the Vitamin D Council as well as these research papers by Dr. Michael Holick for you scientifically-minded readers:

Symposium: Vitamin D Insufficiency: A Significant Risk Factor in Chronic Diseases and Potential Disease-Specific Biomarkers of Vitamin D Sufficiency

Vitamin D: the underappreciated D-lightful hormone that is important for skeletal and cellular health

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