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December 2014

Vitamin D: Latest Findings

Health benefits linked to vitamin D continue to grow as research into the roles of this vitamin are ongoing.  Vitamin D has mainly been associated with strong bones since it is essential for calcium to be absorbed.  Current research suggests that this vital fat soluble vitamin plays a positive role in several medical conditions including; heart disease with modest improvements in cholesterol, colon cancer, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity and a possible link with diabetes.  Most recent studies suggest that low levels of D may be associated with a higher risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.  More studies are needed to support this claim.  With these potential health benefits it is essential that vitamin D levels are adequate.

Vitamin D Recommendations
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends an intake of 600 International Units (IU) of vitamin D daily for people under 70 and 800 IU for those 70 and above.  This amount is for individuals with adequate levels of this vitamin in their blood.  If D levels are low, the requirements will be more. 

Many leading experts believe this amount should be higher due to current indoor lifestyles, the use of sunscreens and few good food sources for Vitamin D. The IOM found no danger from taking up to 4000 IU daily.

Vitamin D and Food Sources
Less than 5% of Americans get vitamin D in their diet to meet guidelines. Boost your D by choosing these foods more often:

What is Your Vitamin D Status?
Know your blood level of vitamin D.  Have your health care professional check 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

This level should be at least 20 ng/ML for bone health according to the IOM.  For overall health, experts in the field recommend higher levels 40-60 ng/ML.

Your physician may prescribe a high dose of vitamin D for a short period of time if it is extremely low.

Fish - especially fatty fish: salmon, sardines, mackerel with moderate consumption of tuna.  Include a variety of species and have fish more often, at least twice a week.

150-400 IU D
3 oz. Fish

Dairy Products - D fortified reduced fat milk and yogurt.  The amount of D will vary depending on the level of fortification.

100 IU D
(1 c  milk)
80 IU D
(3/4 c yogurt)

Egg - the vitamin D is in the yolk.  One whole egg 3-4 times a week.

40 IU D
1 large egg

Mushrooms - if exposed to ultraviolet light.  The label must state “vitamin-D rich”.

400 IU D
3 ounces

The Bottom Line
Make the most of the few good food sources.  Maintain a healthy body weight.  Enjoy safe sun exposure. Supplement with D daily, follow the IOM guidelines. Get D levels checked, as you may be prescribed more.


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