Health with Dr. Paula: The importance of Vitamin D

Health with Dr. Paula: The importance of Vitamin D

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Recent studies have shown Vitamin D may be more important to our overall health than previously thought.

Dr. Paula Walker-King from Columbus State University stopped by the morning show on Tuesday to talk about Vitamin D deficiency and the importance of the so-called "sunshine vitamin."

Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium which is important for bone health.

In addition, studies suggest having adequate levels of Vitamin D are important in keeping the heart healthy and the blood pressure normal. Vitamin D has also been shown to provide protection against cancer, osteoporosis and immune system disorders like autoimmune diseases, the flu and colds.

Why are Americans especially finding themselves deficient in Vitamin D?

  • Diet (inadequate)
  • Sun exposure (too little sun exposure due to sunscreen use/weather/long sleeves, etc.)
  • Use of sunscreen (sunscreen blocks the production of vitamin D)
  • Skin color (greater amounts of the melanin, in darker skin, reduce the skin's ability to produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight)
  • Obesity (prevents Vitamin D from being spread throughout the body; the increased subcutaneous fat sequesters the vitamin so that less is available for circulation)

Who is at high risk for Vitamin D deficiency?

  • Elderly (skin less efficient as producing vitamin D in skin; kidneys less able to convert vitamin D to its active form)
  • obese individuals
  • exclusively breast-fed babies
  • Individuals w/limited sun exposure
  • People who have darker skin
  • People w/fat malabsorption as seen w/Crohn's disease; celiac disease, cystic fibrosis {Reason: vit. D is a fat soluble vitamin. As such, it requires some fat in the intestine for absorption}

What are some good sources of Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods. Some dietary sources include:

  • Fortified milk*
  • Fortified cereal
  • Fish
  • Fish liver oil i.e. Cod liver oil
  • Eggs
  • Some brands of orange juice are fortified w/Vitamin D

How much vitamin D should individuals consume per day?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: infants, children and adolescents should consume 400 IU (International Units) per day. Most experts agree that adults should consume 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day.

What are some tips for viewers to increase their Vitamin D consumption?

  • Be sure to include vitamin D rich food sources in the diet on a daily basis
  • Ask your doctor if vitamin D supplementation is right for you. At the very minimum, most healthy adults can benefit from a good multivitamin with Vitamin D as a dietary supplement.
  • Sun exposure for at least 20-30 minutes/day without sunscreen (We're fortunate in Georgia to have adequate sunlight even during the winter months to facilitate optimal vitamin D production/levels); you may put sunscreen on after this window of time has elapsed.

Copyright 2015 WTVM. All rights reserved.