Vitamin D – For You’re Probably Deficient
Most people that I speak to already know that Vitamin D is both important and produced by our skin in response to the sun. It’s interesting to watch how “mainstream” it’s become with even the most conservative of doctors recommending it to their patients.
I’m all for this of course, however there are two key elements which I think are being overlooked: the difference between having a gross vitamin deficiency and having enough for optimum health, and the amount of vitamin D that it actually takes to reach a healthy level.
So what exactly is all the fuss about?
Firstly, Vitamin D is essential for normal calcium metabolism and falling short puts you at real risk of developing the debilitating bone disease.
Next up is its importance in maintaining blood sugar levels. Diabetes, once rare, is now becoming almost common place. According to Diabetes Australia, an estimated 275 Australians develop diabetes every day, 1.7 million Australians have diabetes but frighteningly up to half of the cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed. It’s thought that in 20 years the number of diabetics will double. Is this really such a big deal? Well, currently the life expectancy of diabetics is 10 years less than the average.
The link between vitamin D and diabetes is unequivacal (although interestingly there is no mention of it on the the Diabetes Australia website). Recent Australian research, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that people who had levels above 103 nmol/l were half as likely to develop diabetes of people whose levels were less than 72 nmol/l.
Vitamin D is also associated with low mood and poor cognitive performance, in particular older people and women seem to be vulnerable to negative effects on how they feel and how they think. It’s also be shown that the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and many cancers is increased if you’re deficient.
So what does deficient actually mean? In Australia the reference range for what is considered to be normal is enormous: 50 to 200 is the most common range. What this means is that if you crack 50 on a blood test your doctor will tell you that your level is fine. But is this right? I don’t think so. If you sit in the sun, your skin will make enough Vitamin D to take your blood level to around the 120 level, so there’s a very strong argument that this is in fact the optimum level for us. There is ample research that shows that levels above 130 are required to protect us from cancer.
If you’ve been told that your level is low, it’s really important that you take enough to get your level back up to a healthy level as quickly as possible. Most people are told to take one, or maybe two capsules a day, but in my experience this is just not enough for most people, especially in winter. There are no hard and fast rules regarding dose but suffice to say that I am taking 5,000 a day.