Vitamin D has been in the news recently and it is important to understand why recommendations have changed.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for all ages from newborns through the elderly. It's role in the regulation of calcium absorption from the small intestine has been known for years but new evidence indicates that we all need more than we had previously thought to maximize bone health. In the past, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin D was 400 IU for adults. However, recent studies have shown that this dose failed to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D in the blood. While most of us get 90% of our Vitamin D from sunlight exposure, many people either actively avoid sun exposure or are confined indoors during daylight hours. In addition, there are only a few foods that contain high levels of Vitamin D. These include oily fish such as salmon or mackerel and milk products that have been fortified.
It has now been demonstrated that optimum Vitamin D blood levels should be greater than 30 ng/ml since this level helps prevent rickets in children and prevent falls and fractures in adults. In order to achieve these levels, children need to consume 40 IU per day and adults need to consume 800 IU per day.
How do you know if you are deficient in Vitamin D? The symptoms include low back pain, muscle aches and weakness of the lower extremities as well as bone pain over the sternum or shin bone. Risk factors include age over 65, dark skin, minimal sunlight exposure, obesity and drugs such as steroids or anti seizure meds.
If you think you might be deficient in Vitamin D, a simple blood test can check your level. If your level is low, then adequate supplementation will correct the problem.