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Vitamin D, Part 2

Posted 04/07/2008

Last time we talked about the Vitamin D Council and its research on vitamin D deficiency. Today I’ll add some observations from the front lines of doctoring, as well as my updated recommendations on supplementing with D.

• For the past year, I’ve been measuring the vitamin D levels of patients in my Chicago practice and am shocked at the low levels I’m seeing in otherwise healthy people.

• The Recommended Daily Allowance, currently 400 IU (international units), is far too low. It’s more likely that 2,000 to 5,000 IU daily are needed when you take into account our dark northern climate. We offer vitamin D here and it’s widely available at drugstores.

• Our diet doesn’t provide enough vitamin D, but that’s not surprising considering the relatively low levels in vitamin D-rich foods. One cup of vitamin D-fortified milk has barely 100 IU. One egg yolk: 25 IU of vitamin D. On the other hand, one tablespoon of cod liver oil has more than
1,300 IU.

• We’re not allowing our bodies the opportunity to make their own vitamin D. With an overcast sky in winter, we get zero D. Then, when the sun does appear, we slather ourselves with sun block. It’s a question of degree. A half hour per day with your face and arms exposed to the sun is a lot different than eight hours a day roasting on a tropical beach (which undeniably sounds quite appealing these days).

WholeHealth Chicago patients can stop by the office (please call first) and my assistant Liz will draw blood to measure your vitamin D level. If your insurance is United or Humana, stop in for a requisition and then go to their lab (same test, lower co-pay).

• If you’re not one of our patients, ask your doctor to measure your vitamin D level. Levels closest to 50 ng/ml (that’s 50 nanograms per milliliter–common among women in Southern California) are ideal.

• An interesting book about how to use sunlight healthfully is Solar Power for Optimal Health. It’s available online here.


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