Are you Vitamin D deficient?

According to this N.Y. Times article you may not be getting enough Vitamin D.

Studies show that those suffering from Vitamin D deficiency are at a greater risk for developing certain cancers, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders to name just a few.

A person’s vitamin D level is measured in the blood as 25-hydroxyvitamin D, considered the best indicator of sufficiency.  Maximum bone density is achieved when the blood serum level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D reaches 40 nanograms per milliliter or more.

The best source of Vitamin D is the sun and we may be able to absorb enough D in the summer to last the whole year.  According to Dr. Michael Holick, the author of “The Vitamin D Solution” we can get an adequate dose of D:

…by going outside in summer unprotected by sunscreen (except for the face, which should always be protected) wearing minimal clothing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. two or three times a week for 5 to 10 minutes.

The current recommended intake of vitamin D is 200 I.U. a day from birth to age 50 (including pregnant women); 400 for adults aged 50 to 70; and 600 for those older than 70.

While our bodies “make” Vitamin D from sun exposure we can also get some Vitamin D from foods such as wild-caught oily fish (salmon, mackerel, bluefish, and canned tuna) and fortified milk and baby formula, cereal and orange juice.  Experts say the amount we convert from these foods may not be enough and most recommend supplements – from an additional 200 IU’s to 2000 IUs a day – depending on who you ask.

Here’s Dr Weil’s take on Vitamin D deficiency. He recommends supplementing with 2000 IU’s a day and says:

No adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily. Exposing the face and hands to roughly 10 minutes of direct sunlight daily is also quite safe and a good way to boost vitamin D.

Here in the Pacific northwest where are especially sun deprived (sorry Portland – love you but it’s true) and we may need to supplement for optimum health.  A simple blood test will show if you are D deficient.  I suggest you discuss this with your health care practitioner if you are concerned that you may not be getting enough D.