back from a hiatus!–and vitamin D

13 Apr

Due to the pressures of…well…life, this blog has been a bit neglected of late! I begin remedying that with some information for you about vitamin D.

Recent research is showing that there are a number of benefits to making sure that your vitamin D levels are sufficient. Vitamin D has been linked to increased fertility. In addition, deficiencies of D have been linked to depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Severe vitamin D deficiency causes rickets–which are largely eliminated in the U.S. today.

There is some disagreement in the medical field about what the healthy level of vitamin D in the body SHOULD be. M.F. Holick, author of The Vitamin D Solution, believes that the optimal levels of vitamin D are significantly higher than current recommendations–so much higher that a large proportion, even over 50%, of the population may be low in vitamin D. [Just to clarify–I neither agree nor disagree with his argument, and I am not recommending the book. He is just one of the current researchers who are working in the field!]

In any case, many women don’t get enough. There are a lot of reasons this might be so, but chief among them is that we don’t spend a lot of time out in the sun without sunscreen. Of course, too much sun can lead to skin cancer and other skin problems, so it’s a balancing game. One way you can combat this is by supplementation; vitamin D is widely available, largely considered safe [at least in normal doses], and fairly cheap. There is also vitamin D in some foods: fortified dairy products, fatty fish, and eggs.

If you do think you might need vitamin D–more likely if you get little sunshine, have dark skin, or live farther from the equator–visit your doctor. An endocrinologist, especially, can help you decide what your dose should be. While there is little consensus about what dose is safe, research is suggesting that the US RDA–200 IU, for adults under 50–is woefully inadequate. The safe upper limit, according to current regulations, is 2,000 IU for normal adults [those who are not deficient], but research is showing that this number is also too low.

The bottom line: if you are concerned, ask your doctor. And make sure you find out what the actual level of vitamin D is; your doc may say that it’s normal when it’s still a bit low, if he or she is using a standard that is looking increasingly outdated and suspect! Finally, watch for new research–since it’s a hot topic, new studies are coming out often. You might get better information a couple of years down the road.

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