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.