“Vitamin D’s star is on the rise and researchers say it’s about time.” –AMA News, April 27, 2009
The government’s recommended intake (RDA) for D may underestimate the true amount we need by a factor of ten, according to Michael Holick MD, PhD, at Boston University Medical center.
Current recommendations are for 200-400 I.U. per day, depending on age. But Dr. Hollick suggests that our true needs may be on the order of 2,000 I.U. Since studies show that most people consume very little D and don’t get enough from sun exposure, there is a nearly universal shortfall of vitamin D in the American body.
Low Vitamin D Leads to Many Health Problems
First and foremost, weight gain and obesity. Now it’s not clear whether being overweight is associated with low D or caused by low D (the chicken or the egg situation). Still, all the weight loss doctors I have met, including myself, use vitamin D to support health during the stress of calories restriction.
Without D, our bones are weak and thin. But since vitamin D is essential for cells to be able to regulate calcium and magnesium levels, low vitamin D is associated with immune system and metabolic problems, too.
Researchers have known for decades that the RDA was too low, but since the evidence was based on cell and animals studies the government refused to change the set point. Now, after running a long-term experiment on the American public, they have the evidence they need—in the form of tens of thousands of cases of cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
According to the other cell and animal studies which the government is still ignoring, the RDA set point may be far to low for other vitamins, and minerals, too. And be aware that the D in supplements, including vitamin D fortified milk, is synthetic. Your best bet is to get natural D from foods and intelligent sun exposure.
So what do I recommend?
- Get as much sun as you can in the summer without sunscreen and (this is key) without getting a burn.
- Eat 6-12 eggs weekly, make sure they come from pasture-raised chickens who are out in the sun making D in their own skin.
- Eat oily fish twice weekly.
- Eat liver from pasture-raised cows once a week—and don’t overcook or you’ll burn the D.
- Get you vitamin D level tested!
Since cholesterol-lowering medications prevent your body from making cholesterol in the normal amounts, and vitamin D is made from cholesterol, these medications may be contributing to the problem of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.