Like vitamin C there has been a lot of talk about vitamin D. For good reason. There’s a great deal of clinical research to suggest that vitamin D plays a major role in treating a variety of issues and I look closely at vitamin D levels of individuals I’m treating because it plays a factor in so many functions within the body.
Vitamin D deficiency itself does not have a specific diagnosis associated with it (except in extreme, chronic cases), but lack of optimum vitamin D levels is often among underlying factors that create the root cause of some common chronic issues. Of course, vitamin D is tied to bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis, but there’s much more to the role it plays in the body.
Studies suggest that there’s a link between long-term vitamin D deficiency and the development of autoimmune conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin D also helps regulate inflammatory processes (think weight, reactive/itchy skin, joint pain) and it is an essential component in healthy thyroid function.
Higher levels of vitamin D may help reduce cancer risks. It has been suggested that higher levels of vitamin D can be an indicator for optimal prognosis if you get a cancer diagnosis.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report that estimated that a vitamin D level of 20 ng/ml or higher was adequate for good bone health, and subsequently a level below 20 was considered a vitamin D deficiency. While values above 30 ng/ml are helpful for prevention of osteoporosis, Vitamin D is so valuable in other functions that my recommended goal, when assessing lab values, is 60-80 ng/ml.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children up to age 12 months, 600 IU for people ages 1 to 70 years, and 800 IU for people over 70 years. But for optimal health and prevention benefits, I usually recommend a dose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D per week, for maintenance.
If you’re out in the sun a great deal, you won’t need as much vitamin D (but please use sunscreen and be mindful!). Typically, though, you can’t rely solely on sunlight exposure for optimum vitamin D levels. A diet high in sources of vitamin D can help, incorporating foods such as:
- fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna
- egg yolks
- beef liver
- fortified milk
- fortified cereals and juices
But for most people to achieve ideal levels of vitamin D, sufficient to provide the full spectrum of benefits it offers, a good supplement will be necessary. Appropriate dosing will vary by individual and you should consult your wellness provider to check your levels to ensure you’re getting the best results.