As a new winter approaches us rapidly, everything you wanted to know about vitamin D but were afraid to ask.
Vitamin D is well known as the sunshine vitamin we get from natural, pure sunlight.
After years of research, scientists have been unable to identify the true nature of vitamin D and what it can do for health. Scientists do know that vitamin D helps the body absorb many major nutrients and minerals such as silica, calcium and magnesium.
On one side, in just a few years, vitamin D has gained a reputation as a “miracle” vitamin with power over heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other serious illnesses.
On the other side, frequent reports reveal the myth of these vitamin D health claims.
Some doctors contend the population is severely deficient in this significant vitamin, while others caution the population is dangerously over-supplementing with vitamin D.
The truth about vitamin D must be somewhere in the middle.
These questions need to be answered:
• Are individuals getting enough or excess vitamin D?
• What are the true effects on our health?
• Are there severe side effects if we take too much?
• What amount is considered too much?
Here’s What We Know For Sure About Vitamin D
What we do know for certain is that vitamin D assists the body in absorbing calcium. For that single reason alone, it’s vital that we get enough of this vitamin D in our diets. Calcium, in addition to phosphate, is the crucial building block of bones. If a person doesn’t get enough calcium in his or her diet, or if they aren’t absorbing the calcium they do get, bone growth and bone tissue are severely impacted.
Despite strong bones, the role of vitamin D and its effect on health is greatly debated. There are additional benefits to supplementation; however, more data in support of those benefits is needed.
Why Vitamin D Supplements Are Essential
It’s estimated that approximately a billion people worldwide, don’t get enough vitamin D.
There are minimal food sources of vitamin D; however, cheese, mushrooms, beef liver, and egg yolks provide small amounts.
Fatty fish provide more; the best way to get vitamin D is to get 15 minutes of sun every day, drink fortified milk, or take supplements.
It’s extremely difficult for a person to get all the vitamin D he or she needs from food sources.
Also if a person lives in a northern part of the world it can be harder to garner vitamin D from sunshine. In addition, individuals with dark pigmented skin will have trouble getting enough of vitamin D from the sun as well.
Lastly, the elderly need more vitamin D than the younger segments of the population.
For all these reasons, vitamin D supplements are among the most necessary supplements around the globe.
Vitamin D toxicity
With the extreme need for vitamin D there’s also a something called vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D supplements could be necessary for a large segment the population, but more vitamin D doesn’t always mean better. Vitamin D toxicity almost always results from supplementation.
It’s easier to get too much vitamin D than other vitamins. Similar to vitamins A, E and K, (a fat-soluble vitamin) they are easy to overdose.
As a result, it’s important to understand what’s officially referred to as the Safe Upper Limits for daily vitamin D intake. The levels below are considered to be the MAXIMUM safe levels allowed (400 IU is equal to 10 mcg.)
The U.S. National Library of Medicine establishes the following vitamin D Safe Upper Limits:
• Infants: 1,000 to 1,500 IU per day
• Children 1-8 years: 2,000 to 3,000 IU per day
• Everyone else: 4,000 IU per day
Staying within these Safe Upper Limits, it’s understood that vitamin D provides a wide range of health benefits. Unfortunately, with all of this information things are still confusing.
Confusion over the cause and effect of vitamin D causes confusion
Extra vitamin D has been credited with a plethora of wonderful benefits, the most notable of these benefits is preventing fractures in the elderly. This benefit to the elderly appears to be well grounded in scientific data; however, other health benefit claims unclear.
Research continues to reveal numerous possible applications of vitamin D supplements, but at this point the confusion starts.
With each new a new study, the media manipulates the news and runs with it.
For example, a very a weak data connection between vitamin D and reduced cases of cancer elicits a wave of reports stating that vitamin D is the new cancer-preventing drug. Even a suggestion that individuals who live longer typically have an optimal level of vitamin D results in reports that vitamin D supplements will help us live longer…Despite the fact there’s no clear indication whether vitamin D is the cause of this or its just coincidence appears between longevity and vitamin D.
What Can Vitamin D Supplements Really Do For You?
There is in fact, some promising research indicating that vitamin D can help in numerous areas of health. Below are the areas than have shown more than just a slight possibility of good things resulting from vitamin D supplementation:
• Cancer – 30 years ago, it was discovered that individuals residing in northern areas developed higher rates of colon cancer. This fact led to the theory that lower vitamin D levels could increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Dozens of studies have been conducted since that time that strongly support this theory; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean vitamin D supplementation will reduce that risk.
• Heart Disease – A 20-year study discovered that men with vitamin D deficiencies doubled their risk of having a heart attack. There’s a solid link between heart health and vitamin D; although more research is needed.
• Multiple Sclerosis – MS instances are also higher in the north. One study showed that light skinned individuals with increased vitamin D levels had a 62% reduced risk of contracting MS. The same study did not find this to be the case with dark skinned individuals. The link between vitamin D and MS is weak. Although, there is hope.
• The Common Cold – A study performed in 2012 indicated that when kids took vitamin D supplements they reduced their chance of getting a cold by 50%.
• Type 1 Diabetes – A child residing in Finland is approximately 400 times more likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes as opposed to a child residing in Venezuela. There is less sun exposure in Finland, resulting in reduced vitamin D levels. This suggests a link between vitamin D and the disease.
It is dangerous to take too much vitamin D. Although vitamin D has been shown to improve bone health; the disease-fighting benefits are not yet to be confirmed by scientific research.