Whenever we’re exposed to sunlight, our skin cells synthesize vitamin D3. Unfortunately, for many – especially the elderly – vitamin D3 from sunlight alone just isn’t enough.
Why vitamin D3? Count the ways!
Vitamin D and bone health†
Historically, vitamin D has been associated with bone health.† It’s critical for healthy skeletal development and bone mineralization.†
Since most of the calcium in the body is found in the bones, it’s crucial that dietary calcium intake is put to good use by getting there in the first place. Vitamin D helps make sure this happens by supporting calcium (and phosphorus) absorption through the intestinal tract, and reducing the excretion of calcium through the kidneys.†Vitamin D intake seems to make a big difference – and many clinical trials have demonstrated the benefits of vitamin D to support bone strength and density.†
Vitamin D and immune health†
So even if you’ve heard all about vitamin D and bone health, you may not have automatically made the connection between vitamin D and immune system support.†
Many cells, including breast, brain, prostate, and colon tissue, as well as immune cells, have receptors which can be activated by the hormonal form, 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D. –known as vitamin D3.†
And some of these cell studies have shown that vitamin D3, in the form of cholecalciferol, supports normal prostate cell replication and division, too.†
Additionally, vitamin D is a potent immunomodulator, and has been shown to stimulate human macrophage cell activity – something that anyone can appreciate – especially given current headlines.†
Vitamin D intake and dosage levels – time for a change?
Dosage levels are probably not what they should be. For older adults – especially those in institutions with already limited mobility and sun exposure, approximately 38-60% have been found to be lacking in vitamin D intake (depending on the time of year tested).
This may be due to both a failure to gain exposure to adequate amounts of sunlight and because the vitamin D synthesis process becomes less efficient with aging.
However, this concern isn’t limited to the elderly. In a study of women living in Michigan, with an age range of 21 to 65 years, (average around 48 years old), 67% were lacking in vitamin D.
Ethnic differences in vitamin D levels
As it breaks out ethnically, non-Caucasians were 3 times more likely than Caucasians to have low vitamin D levels.Study participants with less than 400 IU per day from their diet and supplementation were 10 times likely to have low vitamin D levels than others meeting or exceeding that level.
A study of pregnant women living in the northern United States found that 83% of African American mothers were either deficient or had insufficient levels of vitamin D, while 47% of Caucasian mothers were either deficient or had insufficient levels.
All of this points to current daily Adequate Intake. For adults (19 – 50 years old) the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set the recommendation at 200 IU. They have also set the tolerable upper intake levels (UL) at 2000 IU daily, based on serum levels of vitamin D associated with hypercalcemia.
However, not everyone feels this is correct.
In 1997, several nutrition scientists challenged these ULs. They feel that the minimum recommended intake needs to be raised, pointing to newer clinical trials in healthy adults that support a UL as high as 10,000 IU per day.
And, although extremely high levels of vitamin D intake have been associated with hypercalcemia, toxicity of vitamin D has not been reported in dosages up to 10,000 IU daily.
Sensible and delicious!
If the idea of taking a single-ingredient supplement in the past has seemed like a bit of yawn, consider the new Chocolate Flavored Vitamin D3
2000 IU supplement from Enzymatic Therapy. It may easily become one of the best-tasting, sunshiny-est parts of your day.