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Vitamin D Exposed: Are You Getting Enough?

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Consuming the correct amount of vitamin D can lower you risk of cancer, osteomalacia, infertility, upper-respiratory tract infections and more. But anyone who lives north of Atlanta, Georgia is unable to absorb this “Sunshine Vitamin” by the sun between November and December, said vitamin D expert Dr. Michael Holick.

For this reason, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) announced new vitamin D recommendations this week, setting the recommended dietary allowance at 600 IU per day and 800 IU per day for adults 71 years and older.

Recommended intake values serve as a guide for good nutrition and health but “determining intake levels for vitamin D is somewhat more complicated,” said the IOM.

Holick, who spoke at the 2010 Food & Nutrition Conference in Boston, Massachusetts said, “There is no downside to increasing your vitamin D intake.”

Recommending 1,000 IU for children and 2,000 IU for adults, much more than is currently recommended, he shared invaluable reasons to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

While the best way to absorb vitamin D is during the summertime hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and through limited dietary sources, Holick suggests additional supplementation for all individuals.

While the American Dietetic Association recommends “whole foods first,” a spokesperson said that “. . . vitamin D is one supplementation that may be indicated,” but to consult a registered dietitian or physician first.

Two groups who should consider vitamin D supplementation above the rest are African Americans and the obese.

While Caucasians can absorb the required amount of vitamin D after five to 15 minutes in the sun, an African American would require five to ten times the exposure. For this reason, “an estimated 30-50 percent of blacks are vitamin D deficient,” said Holick.

Additionally, two to three times the amount of vitamin D is required for an obese individual. Similarly, their ability to absorb vitamin D increases as they lose weight.

“[This is] probably the most common medical problem in the world,” said Holick, adding that lower milk consumption, more sun protection, and higher body mass indexes have all contributed to lower vitamin D level.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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