Vitamin D Shocker
For years I’ve been telling people that vitamin D is extremely important for health. I’ve also recommended that people get enough vitamin D—either through sensible sun exposure or supplementation—in amounts higher than the prevailing Recommended Dietary Allowance suggests. Now scientists at UC San Diego and Creighton University say the experts who made those official recommendations were off by a factor of 10! In fact, say the researchers, rather than about 700 IU of vitamin D3 daily, most of us should be getting closer to 7,000 IU of vitamin D3!
Scientists have been studying vitamin D with a new eye for several decades. Before then, vitamin D was viewed as a hormone crucial for bone health, and little else. But in recent decades, they’ve discovered vitamin D plays many other important roles in the body. In fact, it appears to be essential for immune system function, cardiovascular health, and even combating obesity and diabetes. People with the highest levels of vitamin D have been shown again and again to live longer while remaining in better health.
Vitamin D is so important for health, the body is able to make its own supply. All you need is sufficiently strong sunshine. Many other essential nutrients must be consumed in the diet, but vitamin D is too important to leave to chance. The problem is, many Americans no longer spend enough time in the sun. Sunscreens, clothes, hats, time spent in air-conditioned buildings and cars, long northern winters—any of these can prevent people from making the vitamin D they need to be healthy.
That’s why milk producers started adding supplemental vitamin D to their products decades ago. Vitamin D fortification was a good idea. It helped reverse crippling rickets in America and abroad. Rickets is a soft-bone disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. It left scores of kids crippled. Rickets seems quaint now, but it was once all but epidemic. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many experts believe a person’s vitamin D levels can be high enough to prevent rickets, while still being too low to prevent other illnesses, such as infections, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia, or even cancer.
Check back tomorrow for more on this important health story.
Paul Veugelers, John Ekwaru. A Statistical Error in the Estimation of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Vitamin D. Nutrients, 2014; 6 (10): 4472 DOI: 10.3390/nu6104472