According to two studies published in the Journal of Pediatrics a high 70% of children in the USA are vitamin D deficient.
This eventually leads to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease.
In fact, the study results revealed that 9% of children were vitamin D deficient, while 61% were getting insufficient levels.
How vitamin D regulates cells and genes
Vitamin D is essential for proper body function. What vitamin D does is reduce cellular growth and improve cell differentiation, which makes it one of the most powerful inhibitor of cancer. Actually, vitamin D deficiency is linked to some types of cancer, including colon, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.
Vitamin D has an effect on a receptor which sends messages to our genes, thus controlling different functions such as cancer prevention, inflammation reduction, mood improvement, muscle ache reduction and bone formation. As it significantly affects your gene and cell function, any deficiency in this vitamin also affects the proper function of your body.
Sun exposure triggers our body’s inherent ability to create vitamin D. But this isn’t possible all year long, and plus, most people wear sunscreen when exposed to sunlight to ensure proper protection against UV radiation. Unfortunately, sunscreens also block up to 97% of the vitamin D we get from the Sun. Another factor that contributes to vitamin D deficiency is aging as older skin creates less vitamin D. Skin color and clothes are also factors.
Although the daily recommended dose of vitamin D is between 200-600 IU, according to Dr. Michael Holick, Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, 2,000 IU per day is a sufficient amount to keep a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration between 75-125 nmol/L. Even though this sounds rather high, it is completely safe. For one thing, a number of autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel movement and rheumatoid arthritis are uncommon in regions where the sun exposure is between 105-163 nmol/L.
Moreover, it has been proved that vitamin D can prevent and even treat osteoporosis. Plus, calcium absorption depends on this vitamin, which makes it equally important as calcium itself. Therefore, insufficient vitamin D levels result in insufficient levels of calcium. On the contrary, a higher dose of vitamin D significantly improves bone health.
Tips on getting the right amount of vitamin D
There are many factors that define the right vitamin D levels for each person and these include your age, how north you live, how much time you spend in the sun and last, but not least, the time of year. The following tips can help you optimize your vitamin D intake:
1. Get tested for 25 OH vitamin D
Although the normal range of 25-137 nmol/L. is enough to prevent rickets, it’s not sufficient for optimal support of your health. The optimal range should be between 100-160 nmol/L.
2. Take the right type of the vitamin
Be sure to know the difference between D2 and D3, both of which are forms of vitamin D. To be more specific, D3 is the active form of vitamin D, the one your body needs, as opposed to D2, which is biologically inactive. The latter is mostly found in prescribed medicines.
3. Take the right amount of vitamin D
If you vitamin D deficient, you should take between 5,000-10,000 IU every day for a period of three months. If you are just looking to maintain proper vitamin D levels, you need between 2,000-4,000 IU.
4. Monitor your vitamin D status until you reach the optimal levels
Be cautious to have calcium, phosphorus and parathyroid hormone levels tested every three months in case you’re taking higher doses of vitamin D.
5. It takes 6-10 months to fill up the vitamin D tank
When you reach the desired levels of vitamin D, reduce your intake to the maintenance dose (2,000-4,000 IU).
6. Try to get it from food
Vitamin D can also be obtained from proper diet so increase your intake of cooked wild salmon (3.5 ounces/360 IU), cooked mackerel (3.5 ounces/345 IU), canned sardines (3.5 ounces/345 IU), eggs, and cod liver oil.