Let's understand vitamin D

By Rob Hawley
Posted 2/25/20

Although the diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies had been apparent for many years, it was not until the 1900s that those vitamin deficiencies, due to diets low in vitamin-rich foods, were recognized as the culprit.

You have exceeded your story limit for this 30-day period.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Let's understand vitamin D

Posted

Although the diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies had been apparent for many years, it was not until the 1900s that those vitamin deficiencies, due to diets low in vitamin-rich foods, were recognized as the culprit.

Vitamin D was discovered in 1913. At the time, it was thought that its primary role was to help in the formation of bone and the prevention of rickets, the terrible bone-softening disease common in children. As scientists continued to study the importance of vitamin D, it was discovered that its deficiency also causes health problems in adults, including thinning of the bone (osteopenia and osteoporosis), periodontitis (inflammation of the gums due to loss of bone in the jaw and maxilla) and even depression.

New science has proved that vitamin D is critical for the immune system and that its deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infection and reduced overall immune response.

Vitamin D comes in two main forms: vitamin D2 from plants (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 from animal sources (cholecalciferol), and both come from a number of sources. Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D that our bodies need, so when we consume vitamin D2 we have to convert it to vitamin D3.

First, and perhaps most important, our skin makes vitamin D3 when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin D3 is also available in foods such as fatty fish, liver, milk and cheese. Vitamin D2 is found in plants and has to be converted by the body into vitamin D3.

An interesting fact is that lighter-colored skin is more efficient in converting sunlight into vitamin D3 than more deeply pigmented (darker) skin. A theory on how light skin evolved is that when dark-skinned peoples from equatorial Africa migrated north to follow game or escape drought, nature selected for lighter skin to permit adequate production of vitamin D. This is necessary because northern latitudes of our earth tend to be cloudier and receive fewer ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Today we know that most people are vitamin D-deficient and that people with darker skin, especially those who work indoors and don't get out into the sunlight, tend to be most deficient in vitamin D. Currently, amid concerns of broken hips due to thinning of the bones in our aging population, along with new research showing the critical role vitamin D plays in immune response, medical doctors are now testing for vitamin D deficiency and prescribing vitamin D to patients who do test low in this critical nutrient.

The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin D is 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for people 1 to 70 years old and 800 IU for people over 70. Keep in mind that "Recommended Daily Intake" for vitamins is the minimum amount required to prevent diseases associated with a deficiency of the vitamin, so the RDI is not usually the amount you would actually take. Normal dosages of vitamin D available are 1,000 IU, 2,500 IU, 5,000 IU and 10,000 IU. A normal adult dosage is 5,000 IU daily.

Excessive doses of vitamin D (above 10,000) on a daily basis can cause a condition called hypercalcemia, which actually pulls calcium out of the bones and into the bloodstream. However, it is not uncommon for your doctor to prescribe doses of 50,000 for short periods of time as a means of bringing vitamin D levels up.

Consult your health care practitioner about the use of herbs or supplements, especially if you are taking prescription medication.

Rob Hawley is co-owner of Taos Herb Company. For more information, call (575) 758-1991 or go to taosherb.com.

Comments

Private mode detected!

In order to read our site, please exit private/incognito mode or log in to continue.