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Monday, February 21, 2011

D for deficiency

Who would have thought vitamin D would become anything more than calcium's friend in absorption and be so diverse in human physiology? Recently, vitamin D has been popping up everywhere in the news. The news ranges from the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency to the abundance of it's positive effects. Here are some examples:

Three highly respected medical journals (see below), among many others, have stated there are approximately 1 billion people worldwide who are vitamin D deficient. One billion? The world's population is 6,900,372,014 as of February 16, 2011 in the afternoon. So, approximately 1/7th of the world does not receive enough vitamin D.

The current role of this humble vitamin in daily nutrition has increased dramatically. Research has uncovered its necessity in flu protection, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, depression, muscle weakness, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroid disease and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). This is only the beginning.

So, how does this research affect vitamin D recommendations? According to the February 2011 issue of Better Nutrition (and they aren't the only ones), people should be taking far more than the amount suggested by the National Institute of Medicine - 600 IU's daily. Better Nutrition says, "The committee's recommendation to take 600 IU of vitamin D daily is probably sufficient to maintain strong bones; however, if you want to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, pain, and colds and flus, you would most likely do better taking at least 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D each day, maybe more."

When it comes down to brass tacks, it's up to you to decide who is right about how much to take and if you want to believe the vast research that's appeared everywhere, from credible to not-so-credible sources alike, over the past few years. Remember, it's a vitamin that has quickly raised the conservative upper intake levels by the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, to 4000 IU's for anyone over the age of 9. There must be something to all this buzz.

Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:266–281.

Gordon CM, DePeter KC, Feldman HA, et al. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:531–537.

Lips P, Hosking D, Lippuner K, et al. The prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy amongst women with osteoporosis: an international epidemiological investigation. J Intern Med. 2006;260:245–254.

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