Quick facts on vitamin DVitamin D
By pH health care professionals
Vitamin D: You know you need it, but where do you get it? Here’s your “sunshine vitamin” cheat sheet:
From the sun:
- Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun.
- Recommended dose is 5-30 minutes from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. on face, arms and legs with no sunscreen.
- People with darker skin don’t absorb as much vitamin D as people with lighter skin because darker skin has more melanin. Melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color, impedes vitamin D synthesis in the skin from sunlight. Because of this fact, people with darker skin require more time in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as people with lighter skin – one to three hours verses 20 minutes.
- Sunblocks decrease the conversion of vitamin D precursors (7-dehydrocholesterol) to pre-vitamin D.
- The elderly do not absorb vitamin D as well or may not be able to convert it to the active kind (vitamin D3).
- Vitamin D exposure from the sun is affected by the season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog and where you live.
- People with a higher BMI or who are overweight are often low in vitamin D or require more vitamin D based on weight.
- You cannot overdose on vitamin D from the sun because the skin stops making it from sunlight when there is enough.
- There is a drawback: Too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer and wrinkles.
- Foods rich in D include salmon, swordfish and mackerel (be careful you’re not eating too much fish high in mercury). Eating fish two times a week won’t be enough for your vitamin D needs.
- Tuna, sardines, mushrooms, egg yolk and beef liver have some D too.
- There aren’t a whole lot of natural choices to get your daily vitamin D requirements.
- Vitamin D is also found in vitamin D-fortified milk, cereal, orange juice, bread and yogurt.
What are some reasons for low vitamin D levels, aside from limited sun exposure and vitamin D-rich foods?
- Obesity. After finding obesity can cause low vitamin D levels, researchers suggested that this may be because vitamin D gets trapped in the fat tissues, so that less of it can circulate in the blood.
- Kidney disease and liver disease.
- Digestive system conditions.
- Medications like Orlistat (weight loss), Prednisone (steroid), Phenobarbital and Dilantin (seizure).
What can you do?
- Aim for at least 10-15 minutes of sun exposure three times a week.
- The RDA of vitamin D for most adults is 600 IU/day. So get tested to find out where your vitamin D levels are, and work with a doctor to determine whether you need vitamin D supplementation.
What are the side effects of too much vitamin D?
You know that the sun won’t give you a vitamin D overdose, as we discussed above. But you can overdo it with supplements. Vitamin D toxicity may cause the following:
- Elevated calcium that deposits in soft tissues like heart and blood vessels.
- Confusion, disorientation and nausea.
- Damage to kidneys.
- Kidney stones.
- Heart rhythm irregularities.
- Weakness, weight loss and poor appetite.
If you are experiencing any of the above, please seek appropriate medical care. Instead of self-diagnosing yourself with low vitamin D, we suggest a simple blood test to give you a true idea of where your vitamin D levels are. Our doctors can work with you to determine the appropriate dosage and recommend medical-grade supplements to help you remedy a deficiency, if you have one.
Enjoy Your Healthy Life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.
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