Twice a year I have my Vitamin D levels checked. After 4 years of working on my levels by taking Vitamin D supplements I am finally within normal levels but still on the low end. Normal levels of Vitamin D in blood serum are between is 30.0 to 74.0 nanograms per milliliter, but 30.0 is still on the low end and most doctors want to see their patients closer to mid-upper range. I often run into people that say “My multivitamin has D, so I must be getting enough”. Most multi’s have about 400-600IU. This may be adequate for some, but I have had to take 6,000-10,000/day to get into normal ranges, so there is definitely not a one size fits all dosage. Why is this important and vital to your health? Vitamin D is involved in muscles movement, nerve messaging between the brain and body, inflammation and the immune system’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses. Together calcium and vitamin D work together to maintain strong bones and teeth. Current studies are implicating Vitamin D in cancer prevention and treatment.
If you are low on Vitamin D you may experience lethargy, low immune system, muscle pain and weakness and other less direct symptoms. Your body uses sunlight to make Vitamin D in the skin however, there are only certain times of the year and times throughout the day when vitamin D can be synthesized from the sun. Click here for a map indicating areas that have appropriate sun exposure. In addition, if you wear sunscreen or clothing when you are in the sun, you are blocked from vitamin D synthesis. You can also get vitamin D from food sources including:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
- Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks provide small amounts.
- Mushrooms provide some vitamin D. In some mushrooms, D content is being boosted by ultraviolet light exposure.
- Almost all of the U.S. milk supply is fortified with 400 IU of vitamin D per quart. However, other dairy products such as cheese and ice cream are usually not fortified.
- Some foods such as breakfast cereals, orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and soy beverages are now fortified with vitamin D.
Vitamin D can be a big issue if you are in the habit of wearing sunscreen, if you live in a rainy cold, climate, if you are a vegan/vegetarian. Most people are low on vitamin D now, possibly due to the fact that stress depletes vitamin D stores. The best way to deal with vitamin D is to have your blood taken. If you are below normal levels take a supplement and get re-tested within 3-6 months. My need for vitamin D might be 10, 000 IU/day but yours might be less and there are toxic effects of too much vitamin D intake so it is not wise to self-dose.
On a personal and anecdotal note; Once I finally reached normal levels, my immune system kicked in full gear, I had energy and endurance. Vitamin D is still being researched, but to date is seems like a key player and vital part of maintaining a healthy and disease-resistant body.
Want to get a little more Vitamin D in your diet (not to mention essential fatty acids)? Try this grilled salmon recipe by Bobby Flay. Note that most of the butter and oil grills off so don’t panic.