Even if you take supplements, it is unlikely your vitamin D requirements are being met. In fact, a recent study that I have read, in which 1200 people were screened, over 87% of those participating were deficient! 1
If you live in the United States in an area where, in the winter, you are regularly digging out from snow, unable to go outside without a heavy sweater or coat, or find yourself looking up at yet another gray, cloudy sky, your vitamin D levels are probably too low.
What is even more surprising - it is more likely that your levels of this important vitamin are in fact dangerously low!
The late winter average of vitamin D levels in the United States is only about 15-18 ng/ml -- and any levels below 20 ng/ml are considered serious deficiency states that will increase your risk of breast and prostate cancers and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
There are things that lower, even deplete - your vitamin D levels. And the 400 units of vitamin D our government recommends are simply not enough to do get the job done!. Once it gets into your bloodstream, it's spread too thin to give your cells what they need.
Vitamin D is used by every cell in your body. It keeps cells healthy and functioning at their best, and it's critical for your immune system. If you don't have enough, some cells may end up damaged and diseased. To prevent cancer, your levels of vitamin D must be much higher.
Go without vitamin D long enough, and it can be the last mistake you make. One study followed 13,000 people for more than 12 years. They found out that too little vitamin D was an independent risk factor for death.2
Why has Vitamin D Deficiency Become Such a Problem?
Our ancestors lived naked in the sun for millions of years.
But over time, we started to migrate north where there was less sun. We put on clothes, built houses, drove cars, and got jobs. We spent more time indoors... and when we did go out, we wore sunscreen.
All of these lifestyle changes reduced the levels of vitamin D in our bodies.
Suddenly, diseases of civilization began to occur. The same diseases prevented by vitamin D. We were forced to shift our focus from fighting wild animals to fighting a health disaster created by our man-made environment.
According to one of the leading vitamin D researchers in the world, William B. Grant, Ph.D., vitamin D levels generally drop by 20 percent to 30 percent during winter in mid altitudes and the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency increases markedly during this time.
So right now, many of us are running on fumes when it comes to vitamin D.
How Much Vitamin D do I need?
Ideally, when you have your vitamin D levels tested -- something that everyone should do, especially if you're taking a vitamin D supplement or have never had it done before -- the OPTIMAL value that you're looking for is 50-55 ng/ml.
A good target for you to aim for is a minimum of 2,000 I.U. of vitamin D a day. If you get your level tested and it's low, take between 5,000 and 10,000 I.U. a day from a variety of sources (discussed below).
Adults also believe they only need the minimum requirement. But if you raise the level of vitamin D, you can prevent cancers, fractures, type 1 diabetes, and many autoimmune disorders:5,6,7,8
And how about this. a group of healthy women took either a placebo, calcium alone, or vitamin D with calcium. In four year's time, most of the placebo group developed cancer. But 77% of the women who took vitamin D with calcium were cancer free.9
Unfortunately the "minimum daily requirement" of vitamin D is based on preventing a childhood disease called rickets. So you'd think our youth would be protected. Yet when 380 infants and 6,000 children were tested:3,4
12% of infants were deficient.
40% of infants had less than optimal levels - one-third already showed signs of bone loss!
9% of children, or 7.6 million were deficient.
61% of children, or 50.8 million, had less than optimal levels.
Did you know;
Cloud cover reduces vitamin D exposure by 50%.
Pollution can reduce vitamin D exposure by 60%.
Glass doesn't allow vitamin D to penetrate.
Sunscreen doesn't allow vitamin D to penetrate. 10
How Can I Boost my Vitamin D Levels?
Add sources of vitamin D to your diet. Below is a list of foods that contain vitamin D. Or take a daily supplement. Cod liver oil is one of the best natural sources. Plus, it offers a bonus. It contains vitamin A, plenty of omega-3s, and is convenient to take. Below is a list of foods that will assist elevating your Vitamin D levels.
Try to go outside and expose your body to sunlight every day. As little as 10 minutes in the midday sun produces 10,000 units of vitamin D. You will feel instantly better!
Also, there are tanning beds now available that are both safe and effective - but it must be free of X - rays and electromagnetic field emissions. For those that rarely see the sun, this can be considered.
Remember, a little sunshine is often just what the body needs!
1... Ray MM, Long AN, et al. "Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency in an Urban General Internal Medicine Academic Practice," 2009 Southern Regional Meeting Abstracts Session: SSGIM Research Abstract Session C.
2... Melamed ML, Michos ED, Post W, Astor B "25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population." Arch Intern Med. 2008 Aug 11;168(15):1629-37.
3... Gordon, CM, et al. "Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency Among Healthy Infants and Toddlers." Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(6):505-512.
4... Kumar, J, et al. "Prevalence and Associations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Deficiency in US Children: NHANES 2001-2004." Pediatrics 2009.
5... Lappe JM, et al. "Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial." Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:1586-91.
6... Garland CF, et al. "Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis." J Steroid. Biochem Mol Biol. 2007;103;708-11.
7... Hypponen E, et al. "Intake of Vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study." Lancet 2001;358:1500-3.
8... Bischolff-Ferrari HA, et al. "Fracture prevention with vitamin D supplementation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." JAMA. 2005;293:2257-64.
9... Lappe JM., et al. "Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial." Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91.
10... "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D" http://www.ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp. Accessed Jan 2010.