Posts Tagged ‘vitamin d’

Vitamin D is often associated with strong bones. The major biological function of Vitamin D is to keep the serum calcium and phosphorus concentrations within the normal range which maintains essential cellular functions and promotes mineralization of the skeleton. But more is not necessarily better. Research has found that those who take large amounts of vitamin D not only did not see any benefits in regards of bone density, but actually ended up with worse bone density in the long run.

vitamin D graphic

It has been found that high doses of vitamin D do not provide additional benefits for bone health. There are are a few instances where doctor’s believe higher doses of vitamin D are beneficial with those that have conditions that prevent the body from absorbing nutrients properly: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. But increasing vitamin D in hopes your bones will be stronger, is not recommended for most people.

There are simple tactics you should follow to maintain your bone health. It is safe and sensible to take small amounts of vitamin D, like 1,000 International Units (IU), if you believe that you are not getting enough of this vitamin naturally. Get tested to see if you have sufficient vitamin D. Supplements are best for those who consume a small amount of vitamin D in their diet but it is recommended that you get vitamin D through diet and sun exposure rather then supplements, when possible. Some good sources of vitamin D are cheese, milk, yogurt, fatty fish like tuna or salmon, and cereals. People that don’t spend a lot of time outdoors should also consider taking small doses of vitamin D supplement. This vitamin is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” as it is produced by your body after exposure to the sun. As you get older, your body produces less and less vitamin D. People that are over the age of 65 make about 25% of the vitamin D they did in their twenties. Doses of vitamin D 4,000 IU or higher should only be taken under the advice of your primary care physician. In rare cases, a high dosage can actually be toxic. It can even lead to hypercalcemia, which is a condition that causes high amounts of calcium build up in the blood. This condition could cause a formation of deposits in soft tissues or arteries. It could also cause a predisposition to kidney stones, which are pebble like masses, created when high levels of minerals in your urine begin to crystallize in the kidneys. Again, the preferable method of getting your vitamins and minerals is through your diet. You can check food labels on the back of packaged foods to see the amount of vitamin D they contain.


Nowadays, most people lead extremely busy lives, and it’s common for people to feel worn down. If you are burning the candle at both ends and sacrificing sleep, the source of your fatigue may be pretty obvious. But if you are getting enough sleep, yet still feel constantly exhausted, it may be caused by a vitamin or a mineral deficiency.  The following are a few vitamin levels you may want to have tested if you feel like you are always feeling worn out or drained:

  • Iron: Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, but if you don’t have enough of these cells, or if your red blood cells do not have sufficient amounts of an iron-dependent protein called hemoglobin, anemia can result. Fatigue is often one of the first symptoms experienced by people with anemia. Fortunately, anemia is easy to diagnose with a blood test that measures the number of red blood cells in the blood and amount of hemoglobin in those cells.  If you are suffering from anemia, you must first increase your body’s iron supply with iron-rich foods such as red meat, eggs, rice, and beans. With your doctor’s okay, over-the-counter iron supplements are another option for boosting iron levels, though these can cause constipation.
  • Vitamin B12:In addition to iron, vitamin B12 is also crucial for the body’s production of healthy red blood cells, and a vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause anemia. Good dietary sources of vitamin B12 are meat and dairy products, so most people on a traditional Western diet get enough of this key nutrient through their food. However, vegetarians and vegans can become deficient in B12. Additionally, with age and certain health conditions–including gastrointestinal problems like Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease–it becomes more difficult for the body to absorb enough B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency is usually resolved with oral supplements and/or dietary changes to increase B12 consumption. For some people, B12 deficiency is treated with regular vitamin B12 injections.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is unique. There are few natural dietary sources of vitamin D, however, it is naturally produced by the human body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is imperative to maintain bone and muscle health. A deficiency of this vitamin can also cause insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and reduced immune function. Some examples of dietary sources of vitamin D is tuna, salmon, and fortified products like milk, orange juice, and breakfast cereals. Another way to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D is nutritional supplements. If you decide to take the supplement route, the D3 form is easier for your body to absorb than other types of vitamin D.
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Temperatures are beginning to cool (in some parts of the country, at least!), and the days are getting shorter, which means that many people will not be spending as much time in the sun as during the warm summer months. Could this retreat indoors result in a vitamin D deficiency?

How do we get vitamin D?

Humans have two natural sources of vitamin D:

Exposure to sunlight
The most effective means of attaining proper vitamin D levels, the sun (specifically ultraviolet [UVB] radiation) converts a prohormone in the skin into vitamin D3. For people who have sub-par vitamin D levels, spending some time in the sun can increase levels naturally.

The diet of the average American is very low in vitamin D, with only a handful of foods–like fatty fish, egg yolks, and beef liver–naturally containing it. (Some foods like milk and cereals are fortified with vitamin D during manufacture.)

Critical to good health

Doctors have long known the importance of vitamin D in forming strong, healthy bones–it stimulates the absorption of calcium into the bone. Conversely, a vitamin D deficiency can cause bone calcium loss, which can lead to conditions like osteoporosis, osteomalacia, and rickets.

But more recent research has shown that vitamin D is also crucial for overall health and proper cellular function in numerous other organ systems.

  • The risk of certain cancers, including prostate, endometrial, skin, pancreatic, and colorectal, is reduced by higher bodily levels of vitamin D.
  • Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of developing certain autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
  • During pregnancy, low maternal vitamin D levels have been correlated to increased odds of a Cesarean section.
  • In children, vitamin D deficiency has been tied to severe asthma.

Could I have a vitamin D deficiency?

It has been estimated that up to 50% of the U.S. population, including seemingly healthy children and young adults, are actually vitamin D deficient. And because initial symptoms are typically subtle, most people don’t even know it.

There are several factors that can contribute to lower-than-desired levels of vitamin D including:

  • Age–older adults have an increased risk
  • Insufficient sun exposure, including living in higher altitudes
  • Inadequate dietary vitamin D
  • A dark complexion
  • Some malabsorption conditions, as well as liver and kidney disease

A simple blood test can tell you if you are low on vitamin D. Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin and is absorbed from the intestine, vitamin D levels are sometimes monitored in individuals with diseases that interfere with fat absorption, such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease.

Learn more about our low-cost vitamin deficiency tests on >>

Learn more about our low-cost vitamin deficiency tests on>>


If a blood test determines that your vitamin D levels are too low, your doctor may recommend a dietary supplement. The Institute of Medicine’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin D is 600 international units (IU) for people ages 1-70, and 800 IU for those older than age 70 to optimize bone health. For breastfed babies, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a supplement of 400 IU per day of vitamin D.

Vitamin D tests are also used to determine the effectiveness of treatment when vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, and/or magnesium supplementation has been prescribed. Of note, a 2004 study showed that dietary supplementation with vitamin D3 may be more effective than adding D2 supplements to the diet. Find out if your vitamin supplements are effectively increasing your bodily levels >>