Vitamin D

Hello Spartan Readers,

Today I figured I would talk to you about a supplement that has been in the news and medical journals a great deal in the last few years, Vitamin D.

NB Vitamin D..

Common Vitamin D Supplements available at Spartan Pharmacy

Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K). A fat soluble vitamin just means that there must be a small amount of fat in the gut along with the vitamin for your body to properly absorb it. Fat soluble vitamins are also able to be stored in the body’s own fat stores as well and released at a time when the body needs them.

Vitamin D promotes the absorption of Calcium in the gut and also helps to maintain sufficient calcium levels in the blood. Calcium is essential for the normal mineralization of bone, it also is needed for proper bone growth and bone remodeling. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to brittle, thin, and misshapen bones. Vitamin D is vital for the prevention of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Along with regular calcium supplementation vitamin D also helps to prevent osteoporosis in adults. Vitamin D also plays a role in cell growth, your nervous system, your immune system, and works as an anti-inflammatory.

Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

0–12 months*

400 IU
(10 mcg)

400 IU
(10 mcg)

1–13 years

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

14–18 years

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

19–50 years

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

51–70 years

600 IU
(15 mcg)

600 IU
(15 mcg)

>70 years

800 IU
(20 mcg)

800 IU
(20 mcg)

Vitamin D is not found in many naturally occurring foods in very large quantities. The most common sources for vitamin D in our diets are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. There is an abundance of D in fish liver oils (IE: cod liver oil). Small amounts of D are found in cheese and egg yolks as well as some mushrooms.

Fortified foods are the most common places for us to find Vitamin D in our diets. Almost all milk sold in the U.S. Is voluntarily fortified with Vitamin D up to 100 IU/cup (IU= international units). You may also find vitamin D fortification in breakfast cereals, some orange juices, yogurt and some margarines. Infant formula is mandated to contain 40-100IU of vitamin D in the United States.

Our other source of Vitamin D intake comes from our own bodies. When exposed to sunlight our bodies use UV light to convert “previtamin D” to vitamin D3. How much vitamin D your body produces varies based on the season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, pollution clouding, skin melanin content and sunscreen coverage. When the body is exposed to sunlight it converts the vitamin D and stores it in the liver and the fat stores within the body.

Sunscreens are essential for protecting our bodies from too much UV light which can lead to a painful burn, premature skin aging, and increased risk of skin cancer. But that same sunscreen also prevents your body from producing its own vitamin D! Most researchers agree that 5-30 minutes of sun exposure (without sunblock) between 10am and 3pm at least twice a week gives you adequate vitamin D for day to day bodily operation. For people who cannot be in the sun or who do not get enough sun exposure supplementation is necessary.

You may also hear from different sources that there are two types of vitamin D, D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). You will hear many things that may tout one source as better than the other. That is not entirely true. Traditionally both sources have been seen as equivalent in their ability to prevent rickets, and most of the steps involved in metabolizing D2 and D3 are identical.

Vitamin D is also essential for infants and children. Human breast milk does not contain enough vitamin d to meet the required intake. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that exclusively and partially breastfed infants receive supplements of 400IU/day. They should receive these supplements from birth until they are weaned and consume greater than 1000IU/day in Vitamin d fortified formula or whole milk. Older children and adolescents should also be receiving 400IU per day either through fortified milk or supplementation as well. If you have any questions about whether your child should be on a Vitamin D supplement please make sure to talk to your pediatrician!! This is not an inclusive list of all doses for children either.

Many studies have also been done on Vitamin D as a cancer fighter. While most of the research is promising there is not enough solid evidence to prove that vitamin D will prevent cancer. The most promising research into the health benefits of vitamin D have come with colon cancer and breast cancer. There are mixed results with other forms of cancer though. Pancreatic cancer risk has been shown to increase with high blood levels of vitamin D. Nothing is definitive with these studies but I feel this re-enforces the need to keep your intake of vitamin D within the recommended daily allowances. The only reason to take larger doses of vitamin D would be due to deficiency and under the care of a licensed physician. Remember, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!!

Too much vitamin D could lead to vitamin D toxicity, which could manifest itself as weight loss, anorexia, heart arrhythmias, and even great risk for increase blood calcium levels. Increased blood calcium levels can lead to damage of the blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. Luckily for the sun lovers of the world, there has never been a documented case of too much vitamin D due to sun exposure. (But don’t go running outside for hours unprotected to prove this). Food is very unlikely to cause an increased risk for toxicity either. Most cases have been seen only from over supplementation by individuals who were not under the care of a physician and undergoing blood tests for serum D concentrations.

Vitamin D also has the potential to interact with certain prescription medications. Corticosteroids such as prednisone (used to reduce inflammation) can decrease calcium absorption and decrease your bodies ability to break down vitamin D. Long term use of steroids can increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Weight loss drugs like Xenical or its over the counter cousin Alli as well as the cholesterol lowering drug cholestyramine can decrease the absorption of vitamin D and other fat soluble vitamins from your GI tract.

Phenobarbital and Phenytoin (Dilantin) which are drugs most commonly used to treat epileptic seizures can also increase your bodies breakdown of vitamin D and decrease your bodies ability to absorb calcium.

When it comes to over the counter supplementation you can over do it. But by consulting with your pharmacist or doctor you can add supplements to your diet safely. Please stop by and see us in the store if you have questions about dietary supplements. Never assume that because an item is available over the counter that it is 100% safe. Many of the items sold over the counter are powerful medicines that can cause you a great deal of harm if you take them incorrectly or over do it.

-Ron

Blog disclaimer:

Reasonable effort and care have been taken to prepare this blog, and the information provided is believed to be accurate at the time of posting. However, this information is not intended to constitute and “authoritative statement” under food and drug administration rules and regulations. When in doubt please make sure to contact your pharmacist or physician when making dietary changes, or regarding medical treatment and other related issues. This blog is meant to be informative, Spartan Pharmacy asks that you please use this information as a reference and not a replacement for proper medical treatment. Please, leave that to the professionals!

All Photos unless otherwise noted are copyright protected and owned by Ronald P Obringer, any unauthorized use without permission of the owner is strictly forbidden.© Ronald P. Obringer

 

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