A blood test to evaluate the level of Vitamin D in your blood was offered at this year's Delta County Health Fair. Here are the answers to some of the frequently asked questions asked at the Health Fair.
How important is Vitamin D?
The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, we can't form enough of the hormone calcitriol (known as the "active vitamin D"). This leads to insufficient calcium absorption from the diet. When this occurs, the body must take calcium from its stores in the skeleton, which weakens existing bone and prevents the formation of strong, new bone.
How much Vitamin D do you need?
Birth until 50 years of age: 200 International Units (IU)
Ages 50-70: 400 IU
Age 71 and older: 600 IU
How do you get Vitamin D? You can get vitamin D in three ways: through the skin, from the diet and from supplements. Vitamin D is formed naturally by the body after exposure to sunlight. Fifteen minutes in the sun a few times a week without sunscreen is plenty for many people to manufacture and store all of the vitamin D they need.
What are some food sources of Vitamin D? Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.
Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet. For example, almost all of the U.S. milk supply is fortified with vitamin D. Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals often contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice, yogurt and margarine. In the United States, foods allowed to be fortified with vitamin D include cereal flours and related products, milk and products made from milk and calcium-fortified fruit juices and drinks.
Why do we need Vitamin D? "Vitamin D's best-known role is in building strong bones and we know that we need calcium to strengthen bones," said Mary Grosvenor RRay Jensen RD, Delta County Memorial Hospital registered dietitian. "What you may not know is that calcium can't do the job well if you are low on vitamin D. The two nutrients work together, and a deficiency in either can lead to osteoporosis and associated bone fractures."
Are there additional benefits of Vitamin D? During the last 10 years, researchers have made a number of exciting discoveries about vitamin D. A growing number of scientific studies suggest important new roles for vitamin D.
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon
Salmon, cooked, 3.5 ounces
Mackerel, Coocked, 3.5 ounces
Tuna fish, canned in oil, 3 ounces
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 1.75 ounces
Milk, nonfaat, reduced fat, and whole,
vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon
REady-to-eat cereal, frotified with
10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup
(more heavily fortified cereals
might provide more of the DV)
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in yolk)
Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce
|IUs per serving*
| *IUs = International Units
** DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin D is 400 IU for adults and children aage 5 and older. Food labels, however, are not required to list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.
Cancer: Limited research suggests that synthetic vitamin D may play a role in the treatment of certain cancers. However, it remains unclear if vitamin D deficiency raises cancer risk, or if an increased intake of vitamin D is protective against some cancers. Until additional trials are conducted, it is premature to advise the use of regular vitamin D supplements to prevent cancer.
Muscle weakness/pain: Limited research has reported vitamin D deficiency in patients with low-back pain, and supplementation may reduce pain in some patients.
Psoriasis: Synthetic vitamin D3 appears to control skin cell growth and is used for moderately severe skin plaques, particularly skin lesions resistant to other therapies or located on the face. Vitamin D3 ointment has been reported to be safe and well-tolerated.
Other conditions: While more evidence is needed, a growing body of research suggests that vitamin D might play some role in the prevention and treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions.
Are there health risks associated with Vitamin D? Too much vitamin D can make the intestines absorb too much calcium. This may cause high levels of calcium in the blood. High blood calcium can lead to calcium deposits in soft tissues such as the heart and lungs. This can reduce their ability to function. Kidney stones, vomiting and muscle weakness may also occur if you have too much vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements have the potential to interact with several types of medications. You should talk with your health care provider before taking a vitamin D supplement.
Source: National Institutes of Health.blog comments powered by Disqus