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The Skinny On Vitamin D: Fat-Soluble Vitamin Important For Health!

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has recently garnered much media attention. The difficulty with Vitamin D is that it is naturally present in very few foods. Learn more...

Article Summary:
  • Learn what Vitamin D is and why it is important.
  • Daily needs vary dependent on age.
  • View a list of foods which are excellent Vitamin D sources.

  • The Skinny On Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has recently garnered much media attention. The difficulty with Vitamin D is that it is naturally present in very few foods.

    It is made in our bodies when our skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. This Vitamin D is initially biologically inactive. It then gets hydroxylated by the liver to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], also known as calcidiol. 25(OH)D gets hydroxylated in the kidney to form the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also known as calcitriol.

    Vitamin D has a multitude of functions in the human body. It promotes calcium absorption in the gut, helps with bone growth and remodeling and reduces inflammation.

    Current research shows that Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of over 200 genes responsible for cellular growth, differentiation, cell death and blood vessel generation. The cell death (apoptosis) genes are especially important when it comes to considering the anti-cancer effects of Vitamin D.

    Clayton's Health Facts: Vitamin D.
    Vitamin D - Anabolic Hormone That Works Wonders. It is mainly derived from radiation, such as sunlight. So if you are a beach bum chances are you don't need extra!
    [ Click here to learn more. ]

    The best marker to check for Vitamin D status is 25(OH)D, which has a half-life of 15 days. This is done via a blood test by your doctor. The optimal level according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements is greater than or equal to 30ng/ml.

    Unlike people with Kidney disease, we don't check 1,25(OH)2D in the normal population. 1,25(OH)2D has a short half-life of about 15 hours and is closely regulated by the parathyroid hormone, blood calcium and phosphate levels.

    Inadequate intake of Vitamin D is a leading contributor to osteoporosis, which affects 10-12 million Americans.

    Osteoporosis And Your Thoughts.
    [ Click To Join The Thread. ]
    Osteoporosis And Your Thoughts.
    So one thing that can face us ladies as we get older is the possibility of getting osteoporosis due to hormonal changes.
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    The people at most risk for Vitamin D deficiency include: elderly people; people with dark skin tones, who may require as much as six times the UV light to produce Vitamin D; obese patients, whose fat tissue sequesters the Vitamin D; and breastfed babies who receive small amounts of vitamin D from breast milk.

    How Much Vitamin D Should I Get Per Day?

      The current U.S recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is as follows:

      • Birth - Age 50: 200 IUs/day (update: new guidelines coming out soon recommend 400 IU/day)
      • Age 51 - 70: 400 IU/day
      • Age 71 And Up: 600 IU/day

    What Is An IU?
    IU stands for International Unit. In pharmacology, the International Unit is a unit of measurement for the amount of a substance, based on measured biological activity or effect. The unit is used for vitamins, hormones, some medications, vaccines, blood products, and similar biologically active substances. Despite its name, the IU is not part of the International System of Units used in physics and chemistry.

    The precise definition of one IU differs from substance to substance and is established by international agreement for each substance. For Vitamin D, 1 IU is the biological equivalent of 0.025 micrograms of cholecalciferol or ergocalciferol. (Vitamin D3 and D2 respectively)

    Which Foods Contain Vitamin D?

      It is interesting to note that the Canadian Cancer Society and many endocrinologists recommend a daily intake of at least 1000 IU/day. This is difficult to obtain through diet alone. Here is a nice little list from the NIH Health Office of Dietary Supplements website listing food sources of Vitamin D.

      • Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1,360 IUs/Serving - 340% DV
      • Salmon, cooked, 3.5 ounces: 360 IUs/Serving - 90% DV
      • Mackerel, cooked, 3.5 ounces: 345 IUs/Serving - 90% DV
      • Tuna fish, canned in oil, 3 ounces: 200 IUs/Serving - 50% DV
      • Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 1.75 ounces: 250 IUs/Serving - 70% DV
      • Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup: 98 IUs/Serving - 25% DV
      • Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon: 60 IUs/Serving - 15% DV
      • Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup: 40 IUs/Serving - 10% DV
      • Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is found in yolk): 20 IUs/Serving - 6% DV
      • Liver, beef, cooked, 3.5 ounces: 15 IUs/Serving - 4% DV
      • Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce: 12 IUs/Serving - 4% DV

    Which Vitamin D Is Best?

      Finally, a question frequently asked is whether supplementing with Vitamin D3 is better than Vitamin D2. This is an extremely controversial question and as of yet we don't have a definitive answer.

    To Prevent Osteoporosis Is Vitamin D2 Or D3 Better?

    Vitamin D2.
    Vitamin D3.
    I Have No Idea.

      Some studies show Vitamin D3 to be more than three times as effective as vitamin D2 in raising serum 25(OH)D concentrations and maintaining those levels for a longer time.

      However, new data shows Vitamin D2 to be equivalent to Vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating levels. The bottom line is you should aim to incorporate more Vitamin D rich foods in your diet, allow for moderate sun exposure as recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology, and discuss with your doctor if you should supplement with Vitamin D.


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    2. Cranney C, Horsely T, O'Donnell S, Weiler H, Ooi D, Atkinson S, et al. Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 158 prepared by the University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-02.0021. AHRQ Publication No. 07-E013. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2007.
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    6. Holick et al. Vitamin D2 Is as Effective as Vitamin D3 in Maintaining Circulating Concentrations. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.2008; 93: 677-681