September 29, 2010 | Comments: 5 Comments
I asked Dr. Alicia Arbaje, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of Transitional Care at Johns Hopkins Bayview, for her opinion on vitamin D and she believes that it living up to its press, referring to it as “the new aspirin.” She stated that in her geriatric patients with a deficiency of vitamin D, supplementation improves mood, muscle strength and, therefore, coordination, and can help with weight loss, particularly in post-menopausal women. The problem is, most of us don’t get enough. In fact, if you live north of 40º latitude (a line from approximately Sacramento to Baltimore), there isn’t enough sunlight year round for you to make all the vitamin D you need. Not only that, but the darker a person’s skin, the more difficult it is for them to produce it. If that weren’t bad enough, that sunscreen you wear to protect from skin cancer also prevents your body from producing vitamin D.
The recommended dosage depends on who you ask. The Institute of Medicine‘s current opinion is that an upper limit of 2,000 IU is safe for most people. This is the same number suggested to me by Dr. Arbaje and also naturopath, Dr. Lidia Tomulet. However, most dietitians who are following older guidelines will recommend much less. Others, like Dr. John Jacob Cannell, executive director of The Vitamin D Council, believe that this limit is too low.
The good news is, there are many foods that contain vitamin D and supplementation can be helpful in overcoming the deficiency. Three ounces of wild-caught salmon has up to 794 International Units (IU), eight ounces of fortified milk has up to120 IU and one egg yolk has 20-40 IU. Some breads and cereals are also fortified with vitamin D.
How do you know if you are deficient? Ask your doctor to do a 25 hydroxyvitamin D3 test. If your results are less than 20 nanograms/milileter (ng/mL), you are deficient according to Dr. Roberta Lee, Internal Medicine Specialist at BethIsraelMedicineCenter in a video for WebMD. Vitamin D is fat soluble, which means that excess can build up in your body over time and can lead to unwanted side effects including weakness, heart arrhythmia and kidney stones.
Vitamin D does interact with other chemicals in the body, so if you are taking steroidal medications, choletserol-lowering drugs, orlistat (Alli, Xenical), and some anti-seizure drugs, talk to your doctor before adding vitamin D to your daily routine. Statins, probably including red yeast rice, can raise vitamin D levels.
There is much more to know on this topic and if you would like more information, follow the links below or feel free to send me any questions and I will do my best to get you an answer from an expert!