Vitamin D is commonly known as the sun’s vitamin, because the skin produces it when exposed to sunlight. Getting enough vitamin D is important for good health, as it helps keep bones strong and healthy, strengthens the immune system and can protect the body against many damaging conditions.
Despite its importance, approximately 42% of people in the United States have a vitamin D deficiency. This number amounts to a staggering 69% in Spanish-speaking people. However, there are other groups of people who have greater needs for vitamin D because of age, where they live and certain health conditions.
Discover how much vitamin D you need daily to maintain your long-term health.
Vitamin D Guide
1.What is vitamin D?
It belongs to the family of fat – soluble vitamins , including vitamins A, D, E and K . These vitamins are absorbed very well with fat, and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. There are two main ways in the diet:
- Vitamin D2: found in plant foods such as mushrooms.
- Vitamin D3: found in foods of animal origin such as salmon, cod and egg yolks.
However, sunlight is the best natural source of vitamin D3. The ultraviolet (UV) rays of sunlight convert cholesterol into the skin into vitamin D3. Before the body can use dietary vitamin D, a series of steps must be activated.
First, the liver converts dietary vitamin D into the storage form of vitamin D. Later, the kidneys transform the storage form into the active form of vitamin D used by the body.
2.What is the role of vitamin D in health?
The main role of vitamin D in the body is to control blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are important for healthy bones.
Research shows that vitamin D strengthens the immune system and can reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. A low level is related to increased risk of fractures and falls, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, various cancers and even death.
3.How much vitamin D is needed for good health?
It suggests a consumption of 10-20 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D to meet the needs of all healthy people. However, many experts believe that it is a low amount.
The needs for vitamin D depend on a variety of factors. These include age, skin color, and current levels of vitamin D in blood, location and sun exposure. For example, an analysis of five studies examined the relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and colorectal cancer, finding that people with the highest levels of vitamin D had a 50% lower risk of colorectal cancer than those with high levels of vitamin D. Lower.
Based on science, consuming 25-100 mcg of vitamin D per day is ideal to reach healthy levels of this vitamin in the blood in most people.
4.How to know if we have vitamin D deficiency?
A vitamin D deficiency can be discovered by blood tests. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the following are the reference values that determine your vitamin D status:
- Deficient: level below 12 ng / ml (nanograms per milliliter).
- Insufficient: level between 12-20 ng / ml.
- Sufficient: level between 20-50 ng / ml.
- High: level higher than 50 ng / ml.
The IOM also states that a value of more than 20 ng / ml should meet the vitamin D needs of 98% of healthy people. However, it has been found that a level of 30 ng / ml could be even better to prevent fractures, falls and certain cancers.
5.What are the sources of food with vitamin D?
The best way to increase vitamin D levels in the blood is through sunlight. However, people who do not live in sunny countries need to consume more vitamin D through food and supplements.
In general, very few foods are excellent sources of vitamin D. However, the following are the exceptions:
- Cod liver oil: 1 tablespoon contains 227% of the recommended daily intake (RDI).
- Swordfish, cooked: 85 grams contains 94% of the RDI.
- Salmon, cooked: 85 grams presents 75% of the RDI.
- Canned tuna, drained: 85 grams has 26% of the RDI.
- Beef liver, cooked: 85 grams contains 7% of the RDI.
- Egg yolks, large: 1 yolk has 7% of the RDI.
- Cooked mushrooms: 1 cup presents 5.5% of the RDI.
If you choose a vitamin D supplement, look for one that contains D3 (cholecalciferol). It is better to raise the levels of vitamin D in blood.
6.Is it safe to take a lot of vitamin D?
The toxicity of taking too much vitamin D is very rare. In fact, you would need to ingest an extremely high dose (more than 1250 mcg) or more over a prolonged period. It should also be noted that an overdose of vitamin D from sunlight is impossible.
Although 250 mcg is established as the maximum amount of vitamin D you can safely take, several studies have shown that taking up to 600 mcg daily will not cause side effects but will not provide additional benefits. The best, therefore, is to take 25 to 100 mcg per day.
7.Who needs more vitamin D?
There are certain groups of people who need more dietary vitamin D than others. These include older people, with darker skin, those who live far from the equator and those with certain medical conditions.
7.1 People of legal age
There are many reasons why people need to consume more vitamin D with age. For starters, the skin becomes thinner as you get older. This makes it more difficult to produce vitamin D3 when exposed to sunlight.
Also with age is usually received less exposure to sunlight and bones become more fragile. It is suggested to consume between 25-50 mcg of vitamin D daily.
7.2 People with darker skin
Research shows that people with dark skin are more prone to vitamin D deficiency. This is because they have more melanin in the skin, a pigment that helps determine the color of the skin and protects it from UV rays.
However, it also reduces the body’s ability to produce vitamin D3 from the skin, which increases its deficiency. It is also recommended to ingest 25-50 mcg of vitamin D daily, especially during the winter months.
7.3 People with adverse medical conditions
Because vitamin D is soluble in fat, it depends on the ability of the intestine to absorb fat from the diet. Therefore, people who have medical conditions such as irritable bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and liver disease are more likely to lack it. It is advisable in your case to take vitamin D supplements in an amount prescribed by your doctors.
7.4 People living farther from the equator
The countries near the equator receive a lot of sunlight throughout the year, contrary to the most distant countries. This can cause low levels of vitamin D, especially during the winter months.
If you live far from the equator, then you need to get more vitamin D through diet and supplements. Many experts believe that they should consume at least 25 mcg daily.
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