Vitamin D Deficiency

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January 8, 2013 by Cassy

So I got my lab test back from my annual checkup with my doctor, and I thought everything turned out okay…except it wasn’t.  My Vitamin D level was below the specified range (30-100), so naturally I Googled everything there is to know about Vitamin D.

How to Get More Vitamin D

01

  1. Go outside between the hours of 10am-2pm.  This is the cheapest (it’s FREE) and easiest way of taking in extra Vitamin D.  If you’re working indoors with no exposed windows (like me), take a break outside or walk during your lunch hour.  Asians are deathly afraid of the sun, but like plants we need sunlight to keep us healthy.  However, you need to take things in moderation and only stay out in the sun long enough to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for those who have very pale skin.  You can get 30% of your Vitamin D from just being outside.  Additionally, Vitamin D can help prevent cancer (see this article).  It is very difficult to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone, as very few foods naturally contain vitamin D, and those that do will not contain enough to optimize your levels.
  2. Take Vitamin D supplements.  The Food and Nutrition Board recommends the daily intake of 600 IU for children and adults up to 70 years old, and 800 IU if you’re older.  There are different forms of Vitamin D you can take:
      • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the type of vitamin D the body naturally produces in the skin in response to sun exposure.  Cholecalciferol is 87% more potent in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations and produces 2- to 3-fold greater storage than does D2.  However, Vitamin D3 supplements are not vegetarian and are not likely to be derived from American products. If an individual has ethical concerns over D3, D2 can be an effective replacement.
      • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) comes from fungi and plants grown through UV lights.  Good vegan substitution for your Vitamin D supplement needs.  Some studies showed that ergocalciferol is comparable to cholecalciferol.
  3. Eat foods high in Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is oil soluble, which means you need fat to dissolve it.  You also still need to take 600 IU of Vitamin D.
      • Cod Liver Oil – not vegan (duh), but it’s a popular food product that is high in Vitamin A and D.  It also has 1000 IU per 100g serving.
      • Fortified Cereal – vegan, but not always gluten-free.  Check the labels to make sure it doesn’t contain any processed sugar and hydrogenated oil.  Cereals can provide over 3000 IU per 100g serving (2 cups).
      • Fish like herring, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and your basic sushi meal.  Raw fish is better than cooked fish, and canned fish in oil is better than canned fish in water.  This is a great way for pescaterian to get their Vitamin D, but not so much for vegans/vegetarians.  IUs depend on the type of fish, but herring has the most at over 1500 IU per 100g serving.
      • Other seafood like oysters and caviar.  These provide 1/3 to 1/2 of your daily IU recommendation, with raw oysters at 320 IU per 100g (269 at 6 oysters), and caviar at 230 IU per 100g.
      • Fortified tofu and soymilk.  Vegan and gluten-free.  Fortified Tofu can provide up to 157 IU per 100g serving (44 IU per ounce). Fortified Soy Milk can provide up to 49IU per 100g serving (119 IU per cup). Amounts of vitamin D vary widely between products, so be sure to check nutrition facts for vitamin D content.
      • Salami, Ham, Sausages can be taken in moderation since they are high in sodium and cholesterol.  They provide a little Vitamin D, averaging about 9% of your 600 IU per 100g serving.
      • Eggs, Cheese, Butter and Milk are good source of protein and calcium, but Vitamin D levels tend to be less than 100 IU per 100g serving.
      • Mushrooms, especially white button mushrooms provide 27 IU per 100g serving.

So the bottom line is that people are not taking enough Vitamin to protect their health.  While people can make vitamin D from the sun, getting too much sun increases the risk of skin cancer, so it’s not always the best way to get vitamin D.  By comparison, Vitamin D supplements of 800 to 1,000 IU per day are fairly inexpensive and safe and provide a reasonable approach to avoiding Vitamin D deficiency.

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