Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) | Deficiencies, Excesses, and Recommendations
Vitamin d is naturally present in only a few foods. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin d in the American diet. Vitamin d is produced in the body while skin is exposed to direct sunlight, by using our body’s cholesterol.
Despite this readily available source of vitamin d, at least mild deficiency is a common problem in many populations, particularly in older adults.
Vitamin d is essential for bone mineralization and calcium regulation. It is also necessary for promoting a proper immune system and for healthy cellular function. More recently, this nutrient was determined to be important for brain function.
What Can Happen If I Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D?
- Bone pain
- Muscle weakness
- Rickets (children)
- Osteomalacia (adults)
- Increased risk of cancer
- Cognitive impairment in older adults
- Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Vitamin d deficiency may not be the result of an inadequate intake of vitamin d. There are other factors that may affect its absorption or utilization:
- Dark skin
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Inflammatory bowel disease (malabsorption)
- Age (skin loses its ability to create vitamin d from sunlight)
- Breastfed infants from mothers with low levels of vitamin d may have a vitamin d deficiency.
- Limited sun exposure (overuse of sun screening products can also be counter productive)
What Can Happen If I Get Too Much Vitamin D?
- May increase risk of falls
- Bone problems, including bone pain
- Nausea, vomiting and poor appetite
- Elevated blood calcium levels (dangerous)
- Calcium stones in kidneys, or kidney failure
- Stomach pain,poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
Vitamin d has been shown to be extremely toxic when taking 60,000 IU per day over several months. R
Although rare, because of its fat solubility, it is possible for this vitamin to build up and reach toxic levels in the body. Vitamin d blood levels should be tested along with your other routine blood work.
Get 15 minutes of direct sunlight daily. Eat fatty fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel. A little extra vitamin d can be obtained from beef, liver and egg yolks. The only plant source of vitamin d are mushrooms, and this is not a significant amount. Sunlight is truly the best natural source!
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Potential Life Enhancements
- May reduce risk of diabetes
- May reduce risk of depression R
- May reduce risk of heart disease
- May help reduce risk of hip fracture in older adults
- May help reduce the risk of several types of cancer
- May reduce risk of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and lupus