Of all the vitamins needed by the body, the easiest one to get in sunny California is vitamin D because the greatest source of vitamin D comes free of charge in the everyday sunlight. Actually, vitamin D already exists in the skin and becomes active (think “more usable”) vitamin D3 when sunlight hits the skin for about ten minutes daily. Fish, eggs, and cod liver oil, as well as fortified milk, are food sources of vitamin D.
In the last few years, there has been more information, and speculation, on what vitamin D does for the body. It has been known since 1940s that vitamin D was needed to prevent weak bones in such conditions as rickets (seen in children), and osteomalacia (seen in adults as soft bones, muscle weakness and bone pain). Vitamin D and calcium work together for bone and muscle health. Treatment with vitamin D has also been useful in the treatment of psoriasis (a skin condition) and to enhance the function of parathyroid glands, which are responsible for controlling calcium levels. Leading us back to bone and muscle function.
There are some studies that show that Vitamin D can: prevent cavities; prevent falls in nursing homes and osteoporosis; decrease the severity of asthma; reduce inflammation and possibly prevent autoimmune disorders such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease; increase bone density in children, as well as prevent bone disease in adults; prevent certain forms of cancer; increase mental performance in those with Alzheimer’s disease; help with fertility, high blood pressure, weight loss; and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, at this time, much more research is needed before many of the newer claims are either proved or disproved.
How much do you need? Ten minutes in the sun daily without sun screen; the increased use of sunscreen might be contributing to the increased incidence of vitamin D deficiency. The US RDI recommends 600-800 international units (known as IU) daily. There are some recommendations that 1,000-2,000 IU or more can be safe to be taken daily. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is known that 50,000 IU daily for several months can lead to toxicity, but ill effects can be felt at lower levels depending on how the body works with the vitamin D. Unlike the vitamin B family, vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that it is stored in the fat tissue of the body and isn’t urinated out. Too much vitamin D can cause an increase in calcium levels, which can cause a lack of appetite, weakness, nausea, vomiting. You cannot get too much vitamin D from foods or the sun because the body was designed to control and balance it. Taking vitamin D, like many other nutrients, in an unnatural form such as supplemental pills, etc., remove the body’s control and can lead to trouble. ALWAYS talk to your doctor BEFORE taking any supplement. With vitamin D, ask your doctor for a blood test to determine if you need more D, or not.