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December 2018

Disease Fighting Vitamin D

Although Vitamin D has long been associated with maintaining strong bones, it also plays a role in fighting inflammation, boosting the immune system and helping muscles function.  Research suggests there may be added health benefits linked to Vitamin D including: heart health, reduced risk of colon cancer and type II diabetes, helping to manage pain, and may act as a probiotic.  With all these potential health benefits it is essential that vitamin D levels are adequate.

Vitamin D Recommendations
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends 600 IU of vitamin D daily if under age 70, and 800 IU for those over 70.  This amount of vitamin D supports maintenance of bone health and calcium in healthy adults.

However, this does not take into account if your D levels are low or additional needs for other possible disease fighting roles of this vitamin. Some experts recommend 1000 IU of vitamin D.

Additional vitamin D may not benefit your bones if you are not D-deficient. It may support other health benefits. If you choose to take more than 800 IU/day, check with your physician, especially if you have had kidney stones.

Know Your D Status:
It is important to ensure your vitamin D is adequate. Have your physician check it.

The best indicator of vitamin D status is the blood test 25(OH) D.When tested, the level should be a minimum of 30 nmol/L. For overall health it should be at 30-50 nmol/L.

You may be prescribed a high dose of D if your blood level is low.

Are You at Risk for D-Deficiency?
Factors contributing to D-deficiency include:

• over age 50 • excess body fat • liver disease
• little sun exposure • gastrointestinal disorders
• dark skin • medications such as: antacids, mineral oil, calcium channel blockers

Symptoms of deficiency can be bone pain or muscle weakness; however, it is very subtle. That is why it is best to have your D-level checked.

Get Your Vitamin D
There are three ways to get vitamin D: your diet, the sun or from supplements.

FOOD: Few foods naturally have vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are the best sources. Sardines and D-fortified products (mainly dairy) along with ‘vitamin D-rich’ mushrooms are relatively good sources. Egg yolks also contain some D. The new Nutrition Facts label will include the vitamin D content. 

SUN: We rely on sunlight for most of our vitamin D. Sun on the skin enables the body to make vitamin D. Try ‘safe’ sun exposure (15 min. before10 or after 2) daily.

SUPPLEMENTS: Getting adequate vitamin D from food and the sun may be difficult. If the D levels in your blood are low or you are at risk, you may need to supplement.


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