For quite a few years now, some physicians have been checking for a vitamin D deficiency when ordering routine annual blood work during a physical. What is it about this vitamin, its link to cancer survival and the many reasons for deficiency that may have you stumped?
1. The Right Vitamin D Dosage is 600 IU
Six hundred international units (IU) is the recommended daily dosage for adults, the Skin Cancer Foundation explains. For adults over the age of 70, the recommended dosage goes up to 800 IU.
2. Ten Minutes of Sun Exposure Help Prevent Deficiency
Weighing in on the various avenues that Americans can prevent the development of a vitamin D deficiency, Mayo Clinic experts explain that 10 minutes of sun exposure “is thought to prevent deficiency.” Consuming foods that contain the vitamin is also possible. Choices include fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and fortified milk. Mind you, milk products like cheese or yogurt do not usually include the added vitamin.
3. There are Two Types of Vitamin D
Just when you thought that you had figured out how much you need and where to get it, there is additional data to digest. While discussing the 10-minute sun exposure suggestion, Mayo Clinic researchers note that this only allows your skin to make vitamin D3. Fortified foods may contain D3 or D2.
4. High Levels of Vitamin D May Increase Your Odds of Surviving Breast Cancer
University of California at San Diego (UCSD) researchers have discovered that high levels of the vitamin in the blood makes breast cancer patients “twice as likely to survive the disease.” Target levels are 30 ng/ml, which differs considerably from the 17 ng/ml that characterizes the average breast cancer patient’s levels.
5. Obesity or Dark Skin May Lead to Vitamin D Deficiency
The darker your skin, the less able it is to make vitamin D during sun exposure, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explain. Obesity also puts you at risk of deficiency since body fat tends to prevent some of the vitamin from actually reaching the blood stream.
6. More Vitamin D is Not Always Better
It is tempting to greatly increase your daily vitamin D dosage just to hedge your bets. Yet this is foolhardy. NIH experts warn that there can be too much of a good thing. A higher pancreatic cancer risk, constipation, general weakness and nausea are just some of the side effects that overdoses of the vitamin can cause. While prolonged sun exposure does not lead to an overdose, an overuse of supplements does. The upper limit of an acceptable daily intake for the average adult is 4,000 IU.