Yesterday I got a phone call from my friend. She had just been to her doctor, who informed her that her serum Vitamin D levels were very low. Consequently, he prescribed a pretty serious supplementation regimen for her to follow for several weeks in order to raise her levels back to a normal range. Naturally, my friend (who is a pretty darn health conscious individual) was pretty alarmed. Not only was she concerned that what she believed to be a healthy diet was resulting in a pretty serious vitamin deficiency, but she learned that a chronic insufficiency of Vitamin D put her at risk for developing all kinds of problems in the future.
For the past year, Vitamin D has been the major topic of research and discussion in academic/research circles. Researchers are discovering that low serum levels of Vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for osteopenia, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, asthma, and even a spectrum of mental health problems. Please note, these are ASSOCIATIONS, not known CAUSATIONS.
Additionally, reputable organizations (like theInstitute of Medicine) believe that the current DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) of 400 International Units seems to be way too low. Consequently, they are performing some pretty serious research and it looks like they will be making recommendations to significantly increase the DRI in the next year or so.
Interestingly enough, about an hour after I spoke to my friend, I received this article in my inbox. In short, Harvard recently issued a publication stating their rationale for recommending supplementation for Vitamin D. Typically, Harvard recommends obtaining vitamins and minerals from food, but Vitamin D seems to be an exception. The article states ‘ “Even a low-calorie diet can deliver all the vitamins and minerals you need, with one exception – vitamin D. So plan to take a vitamin D supplement.” ‘ It’s actually a really great article and pretty short, so I recommend reading it.
Like Harvard, I typically recommend a well-balanced diet to get all of the nutrition you need. But Vitamin D is certainly one exception. I advocate for every adult to be taking a 1,000 IU supplement of Vitamin D3 every day. Both Vitamin D2 and D3 are sold over the counter. But research seems to indicate the D3 is more effective at raising serum Vitamin D levels and D2 is potentially toxic in supplement form.
One important thing to take note of is the fact that without adequate amounts of Vitamin D, our body is not able to use Calcium to effectively strengthen our bones. Sufficient Vitamin D is ESSENTIAL for bone health. So the next time you are in to see your doctor, ask him/her about testing for Vitamin D levels and pick up your Vitamin D3. It’s one of the simplest things you can do for your health today.