Vitamin D Deficiency | About Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency has become an unrecognized epidemic.  Rickets a disease from vitamin D deficiency afflicting children is making a comeback. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with numerous serious diseases and health problems. Dark skinned individuals are twice as likely as lighter skinned individuals to be vitamin D deficient.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored in your body fat. The history of Vitamin D can be found here.

Benefits of Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D is essential for the absorption and use of calcium in our bodies. 
  • Adults who consume 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily might lower their risks of colon, breast and ovarian cancers by up to 50%.
  • Children whose mothers get plenty of vitamin D during pregnancy have bigger, stronger bones at age 9. In fact, maternal vitamin D matters more than all the milk children drink in those first nine years.
How do you get Vitamin D?

We obtain vitamin D from foods and from exposure to sunlight. Our skin when exposed to spring, summer and fall sunlight for 10 to 30 minutes without sunscreen makes about 1000 IU per minute of vitamin D.  

During the winter months it is best to take a vitamin D nutritional supplement to keep your vitamin D level higher.  If you live north of Atlanta, Ga. (greater than 35 degrees latitude), you basically cannot make any vitamin D from November through February due to the angle of the sun; for New York and Boston, it's mid-October through mid-March. Those who work indoors, live at higher latitudes, wear extensive garments, regularly use sunblock, are dark skinned, obese, aged, or avoid the sun, are at high risk for deficiency. These persons should take vitamin D supplements and have a vitamin D blood test screen performed as part of any physical examination.

Vitamin D3 is often pared with vitamin A in a supplement known as "Vitamin A and D."  Clacium and vitamin D supplements are also available.  They can be purchased at little cost.  Vitamin D overdose or too much vitamin D is very rare.

Foods with Vitamin D

Sources of vitamin D include most meats, oily fish, eggs, cheese, fortified milk, fortified rice or soy milk, fortified orange juice and breakfast cereals. Mushrooms and food products that contain milk are other foods with vitamin D. 

How much Vitamin D do I need?
It is difficult to know how much vitamin D your body makes from sunlight. For 20-30 minutes of full body summer exposure, the body can easily produce 20,000 IU of Viatmin D, the equivalent of 200 glasses of milk.  

Adequate Intakes (AI) guidelines have been established for vitamin D to help you know the amount of vitamin D needed from dietary and/or supplemental sources regardless of your sunlight exposure and body stores. The AI is a safe level for individuals even if adequate vitamin D is already obtained from the sun.
Adequate Intakes of Vitamin D*
Age (years)Vitamin D (IU/day)**
Birth to age 50600
71 and older600
**IU = international units/day
*Dietary Guidelines For Americans, National Academy of Sciences, 2010
Medical studies of recent years are often suggesting much higher daily amounts, more in the range of a mininimum of 1000 IU per day. For individuals with certain conditions, a physician may recommend slightly more vitamin D than indicated in the table above. For example, some scientists have reported that homebound individuals or people over age 65 should consume approximately 800 IU to 2000 IU vitamin D daily. It is important to follow your medical professional's advice and get a vitamin D test.
Children and Vitamin D

Children that are obese with lower vitamin D levels may be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, a new study shows.
"Our study found that obese children with lower vitamin D levels had higher degrees of insulin resistance," Micah Olson, said in a media statement. "Although our study cannot prove causation, it does suggest that low vitamin D levels may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes."  Micah Olson, MD, led the study as a clinical fellow at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. 

Obese children often skip breakfast and drink more soda and juice, factors that may contribute to vitamin D insufficiency levels and obesity.

Rickets can be identified by looking at a childs body.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency
Rickets, Vitamin D Insufficiency
  • rickets in babies and children
  • increased breast cancer risk 
  • bone loss
  • arthralgia
  • falls
  • muscular weakness
  • feeling of heaviness in the legs
  • fatigue or easy tiredness
  • low mood
  • cognitive impairment
  • high blood pressure
Treatment of Vitamin D Deficiency 

Treatment should be sufficient to maintain levels found in humans living naturally in a sun-rich environment, that is, > 40 ng/ml, year around. Three treatments exist: sunlight, artificial ultraviolet B radiation (such as a tanning bed) or supplementation. All vitamin D3 deficiency treatments have their potential risks and benefits. Benefits of all treatments outweigh potential risks and greatly outweigh the risk of no treatment.

Vitamin D 50000 IU, Vit D
The only prescription vitamin D preparation available in the US and England is the vitamin D analogue, ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), available as 50,000-IU (1.25-mg) dose capsules. Physicians can easily replete most vitamin D deficient patients by giving one or two 50,000-IU doses of ergocalciferol weekly for 8 – 16 weeks and then maintain 25(OH)D levels > 40 ng/ml with 50,000-IU doses every 1, 2 or 4 weeks.

However, ergocalciferol is not human vitamin D, it may be a weaker agonist, it is not normally present in humans and its consumption results in metabolic by-products not normally found in humans. It is also two- to four-times less effective than colecalciferol (vitamin D3) in raising 25(OH)D levels.

It is important to understand that neither the regular consumption of recommended amounts of vitamin D (e.g., 600 IU of vitamin D in a multivitamin) nor the regular consumption of vitamin D fortified foods (e.g., 100 IU/8-oz glass of milk) effectively prevents or cures vitamin D deficiency.

It has been recommendation that 3000 IU per day of vitamin D3 be taken for the average American.  3000 to 5000 IU for healthy males, and for toddlers and children who do not go into the sun, 1000 IU and 2000 IU respectfully. Lactating mothers should take 6000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.

Has this information been helpful? How are you feeling?  When was the last time (if ever) you had blood work done?  At that time, did you have a vitamin D screen performed?  How many babies have you seen in the last year with bowed legs?  Share your thoughts with other viewers below.

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