Last week I wrote about vitamin D and how it can help prevent colds and the flu. But vitamin D does even more than that! Research is showing it may have many other benefits as well, including:
- reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease
- reducing high blood pressure
- reducing depression
- reducing the risk of certain cancers, specifically breast, prostate and colon cancer
- reducing inflammation (helping with rheumatoid arthritis)
- reducing the risk for osteoporosis
- reducing the risk for type 2 diabetes
- treating psoriasis and other skin conditions
As mentioned in my previous post, many of us don’t get enough vitamin D, but a deficiency is even more common if you are
- obese, defined as BMI over 30 (Get your BMI number)
- over age 50
- live in a northern climate
- have dark skin
- have celiac disease or Chrohn’s disease
How much do you need?
The recommended daily allowance is 600 IUs for adults under age 70 and 800 IUs after age 70. But many researchers recommend more than that. The Institute of Medicine says not to exceed 4000 IU/day because too much vitamin D (from supplements, not sunshine) can cause harm in some people. The upper tolerable limit is set at 4,000 IU/day but the National Institutes of Health fact sheet says that “symptoms of toxicity are unlikely at daily intakes below 10,000 IU/day.” Talk to your doctor to discuss what amount of vitamin D is best for you.
Vitamin D Supplements, Medications and Health Conditions
It’s important to note that some medications can reduce or impair vitamin D absorption and/or metabolism. These include corticosteroids, weight loss drugs that affect fat metabolism, and certain cholesterol lowering drugs. For the list of affected drugs, scroll down to “Interactions with Medications” on this site. Vitamin D supplements can also interfere with certain medications, such as drugs to treat high blood pressure. Some of the medications are found under the “interactions” tab on this list or at this site. Lastly, if you have these health conditions, (listed under the “side effects” tab) you may not want to take vitamin D supplements at all. Again, always talk to your doctor.
Testing Your Vitamin D Levels
If you’re not sure if you’re deficient in vitamin D, you could ask to be tested for it. But keep in mind that blood tests that check for vitamin D levels can be misleading, as this article states.
There’s a lot of information out there on vitamin D. I hope this helped you sort out the basics about this important vitamin.