Vitamin D is a critical nutrient today, and can help prevent some cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health conditions. Vitamin D affects the immune response, among many other body systems. Food and sunshine do not provide enough vitamin D today.
Most adults need a supplement of 5000 iu daily of vitamin D3, and rarely even more. This is much more than the Minimum Daily Requirement or what most doctors recommend.
Children below about age 5 or 6 do not need extra vitamin D. Children over that age need some supplementation for rapid development.
An excellent alternative to a supplement for adults is to eat 3-4 cans of sardines weekly (and less for children). The sardines provide many other vital nutrients, and they are less costly that taking supplements of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are also high in sardines.
NOTE: The label says that sardines contain only about 200 iu of vitamin D per can. However, it is far better utilized than any vitamin D supplement. As a result, 3-4 cans per week is plenty. Do not eat 3-4 cans of sardines weekly and take a vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin D is a fascinating nutrient that is shrouded in controversy because some researchers believe that we all need much more of it than we are able to get from our food and from spending time in the sun. Most adults need about 5000 iu daily of vitamin D3.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
Newer research indicates that going out into the sun does not seem to help one’s vitamin D status much, unless perhaps you are outside all day long. Tanning beds can be used to obtain more vitamin D, but they may not be safe. Cod liver oil, dairy products or pasture-fed meats for vitamin D.
While these are sources of Vitamin D, they do not contain enough, by themselves, to supply the correct amount.
An excellent source of vitamin D is to eat three or four cans of sardines per week. Those with the lowest level of mercury are the skinless and boneless sardines. In our view, this is the only way to avoid the need for a vitamin D supplement.
Salmon and tuna
These are also rich in vitamin D, but are not recommended to eat, at all, due to their high mercury content. Black cod also has some vitamin D, but not most other fish or seafood. Black cod is also too high in mercury for regular consumption.
Vitamin D supplements
Unless you will eat 3-4 cans of sardines weekly, we find that all adults need a supplement of vitamin D3 of about 5000 iu daily for adults, and less for children. Sources for vitamin D pills include lanolin, salmon oil or other fish oils.
Vitamin D2, a synthetic form of vitamin D available by prescription, is not considered as good as vitamin D3.
Notes about vitamin D.
1. Do not take both a vitamin D supplement and sardines, except in rare cases.
2. Children under age 5 or so usually do not need extra vitamin D from either a supplement or from sardines. However, some sardines are fine for a young children.
3. Any brand of sardines is fine. Boneless sardines have the least mercury, but all are okay.
4. Raw dairy products contain some vitamin D, but the amount is variable therefore it’s not the best for regular use.
ASSESSING VITAMIN D LEVELS
This is the standard way to assess vitamin D. A good level is about 50-70 ng/ml or more. Blood tests sometimes are not that accurate, so it’s best not to depend upon blood tests alone. One reason is that vitamin D metabolism is somewhat complex and one can measure various fractions and compounds.
Instead, we just make sure all adults are obtaining about 5000 iu daily of vitamin D, either from sardines, or from a supplement.
MORE TECHNICAL INFORMATION ABOUT VITAMIN D
The following is an excellent summary of vitamin D knowledge to date that we have borrowed for this article:
In recent years vitamin D has emerged as a star of the “vitamin” world. For example, there are currently over 800 studies showing vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer. Optimizing your vitamin D levels can literally cut your risk of several cancers by 50 percent!
Further, middle aged and elderly people with high levels of vitamin D could reduce their chances of developing heart disease or diabetes by 43 percent. Dark-skinned people tend to have even lower levels of vitamin D than others, and this may account for some of their worse health statistics for conditions such as heart disease and cancers. Diabetics may also need more vitamin D than some other people.
How Does Vitamin D work?
Vitamin D is involved in multiple repair and maintenance functions, touches thousands of different genes, regulates your immune system, and much more.
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 anti microbial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This is one of the explanations for why it’s so effective against colds and influenza.
In addition, since vitamin D also modulates (balances) your immune response, it can prevent an overreaction in the form of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Crohn’s disease for example.
Vitamin D may influence nearly 3,000 genes. his is the bigger picture of its true impact on your health can be easily understood. It may, in fact, have literally thousands of health benefits!
ARE YOU VITAMIN D DEFICIENT?
Vitamin D deficiency is a growing epidemic across the world and is contributing to many chronic debilitating diseases. Sunshine is not giving people enough vitamin D today, although the reasons are not clear. Unfortunately, sun blockers and sunscreen blocks the rays that also help produce vitamin D in the skin.
VITAMIN D AGAINST CANCER
A study by Dr. William Grant, Ph.D., internationally recognized research scientist and vitamin D expert, found that about 30 percent of cancer deaths -- which amounts to 2 million worldwide and 200,000 in the United States -- could be prevented each year with higher levels of vitamin D.
Other studies showed that you can decrease your risk of cancer by more than half simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure. Vitamin D has a protective effect against cancer in several ways, including:
• Increasing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which, if allowed to replicate, could lead to cancer)
• Reducing the spread and reproduction of cancer cells
• Causing cells to become differentiated (cancer cells often lack differentiation)
• Reducing the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, which is a step in the transition of dormant tumors turning cancerous. As you can see there are many benefits of vitamin D, and why it’s so critical to make sure you and your family maintain healthy levels at all times.
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All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. Article by - Dr. Wilson, MD (graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT)