The Truth About Vitamin D
If nutrients were on the cover of US Weekly, vitamin D would be a superstar.
Let me explain.
We’ve known about the role of vitamin D in bone strength for some time. But new research is showing the importance of vitamin D in preventing cancer.
Even weight loss is affected by vitamin D. One study showed that those with the lowest levels of vitamin D had the hardest time losing weight.
All this might not be much of a problem except for the fact that more than 25 percent of the population—and I’m being wildly conservative—is vitamin D deficient.
As of this writing the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU. I—and a growing body of nutritionists, doctors, and health professionals—think that’s way too low.
Oh, I’m being polite. We think it’s ridiculous.
The current (paltry) levels of vitamin D recommendations are based mostly on vitamin D’s effects on bone health. But as Denise Houston, PhD, observes, “Higher amounts of vitamin D may be needed for the preservation of muscle strength and physical function as well as other conditions such as cancer prevention.”
Vitamin D Especially Important for Older Adults
In 2007, research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine showed that older adults who don’t get enough vitamin D are at increased risk for both poor physical performance and disability.
Older adults are especially susceptible to low levels of vitamin D, because number one, they get less sun exposure, and two, their skin is less efficient in producing vitamin D from the sun in the first place. And it’s not easy to get enough vitamin D from food sources.
Should We Supplement with Vitamin D?
Michael Holick, MD, PhD, author of The UV Advantage, looked at the vitamin D levels of pregnant mothers coming into his hospital. He found that 76 percent of the mothers were severely vitamin D deficient, and 81 percent of their infants were as well.
Holick says that even 48 percent of Caucasian girls aged 9 to 11 are deficient in vitamin D at the end of the winter, and 17 percent of them remain so at the end of the summer, because they’re all wearing sunblock. African Americans are especially at risk for vitamin D deficiency because having dark skin is like wearing a permanent sun protection factor of 15 to 30.
So should you supplement with vitamin D?
In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer. I live in sunny California, play outdoor tennis 5 times a week and drive with the top down, and I still supplement with vitamin D! That’s how important I think it is.
Vitamin D supplements actually come in two “flavors,” vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Forget the D2, which has historically been the one used for supplements, but is far less well absorbed and less effective at raising blood levels. You should supplement with vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is the form most health experts today recommend.
We generally recommend 2,000 IUs as a good place to start supplementing for most people, but we also recommend that you get a blood test to see if this amount is getting your levels up to where you want them to be.
The correct test is 25 (OH) D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. (Don’t get the old 25(OH) D test.) Anything lower than 30 ng/mL is considered “deficient,” but don’t be fooled by that figure. Holik believes healthy levels are between 30-100 ng/mL, and most experts these days like to see at least 50 ng/mL if not more.
According to vitamin D expert Zoltan Roma, MD, MSc, author of Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin, “Research now indicates that the correct figure for the minimum daily requirement is 4,000 IUs,” adding that “it will probably take another decade before the government nutritional authorities acknowledge this fact and recommend higher vitamin D intakes for the population”.
There are many choices for vitamin D supplementation, but we have sorted through the dozens on the market to bring you the cream of the crop.
Vitamin D Synergy caps by Designs for Health
This provide a nice dose of 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 as well as 200 mcg of vitamin K-1, which works synergistically with vitamin D and is important for bone strength.
Emulsi-D3 Synergy by Designs for Health
This supplement also provides 2000 IUs of vitamin D3 plus 250 mcg of vitamin K1, but delivers it in a convenient liquid emulsion. Each drop delivers the full dose, there are 900 drops in a squeeze bottle, and it can be dropped into any beverage (or just put on the tongue!)
Vitamin D Supreme by Designs for Health
This is the heavyweight brother of Vitamin D Synergy, with each capsule providing a handsome dose of 5,000 IUs vitamin D3. In addition, it contains both forms of vitamin K, K1 (for bones) and K2 which is not only helpful for bones but is being closely studied for its beneficial effects on the heart and its potential anti-cancer effects.
We believe so strongly in these vitamin D supplements …
- Vitamin D Synergy caps by Designs for Health
- Emulsi-D3 Synergy by Designs for Health
- Vitamin D Supreme by Designs for Health
Wishing You Health and Wellness,
The Rockwell Nutrition Team
Holik, “The Vitamin D Solution”