The Magical D Word
Last week, I had a turkey dinner with my MD brother, who opined that the best thing since sliced bread, at least today, is Vitamin D. He touted numbers that imply that daily 1,000 mg doses of Vitamin D tends to lessen a person’s tendency for various cancers, and, in this day of approaching geezerdom, reduced incidences of Alzheimer’s disease. Since I am always looking for the ever-elusive silver bullet, I took great interest in his statements.
In my opinion, my brother’s background in western medicine has influenced him to look first at pills to fix a problem, so I looked askance at his recommendation to take pills to achieve the required dosage. I, on the other hand, am always looking for low-tech ways to maintain my health, so using sunshine as the vitamin D vehicle would be my choice. Sibling rivalry, etc., being what it is, I decided that I wanted to do some of my own research on the matter.
First, my handy “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” handbook says:
- There are three kinds of Vitamin D:
1. Vitamin D2, which comes from food sources,
2. Vitamin D3, which is synthesized in the skin in response to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, and,
3. Vitamin D5, which is a synthetic form.
- Sunshine on the face and arms for 15 minutes three times a week will give the recommended vitamin D dosage.
- The form of vitamin D that we get from food or supplements is not fully active, and requires conversion by the liver to become fully active.
- You must take calcium with vitamin D5. Toxicity may result from taking excessive amounts of supplemental vitamin D.
Google time. I went to the web and found what appear to be some responsible articles about vitamin D requirements. The Canadian Government has done work in this area, and has developed a strong case for supplemental vitamin D. Their studies reveal that in northern latitudes, the angle of the sun is such that it is impossible to get adequate vitamin D AND a person would have to eat unreasonable amounts of vitamin D rich foods to make up the difference. So, they recommend vitamin D supplements.
The National Institute of Health, Department of Health and Human Services (http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Nutrition/default.asp )is a little more encouraging about using the sun as your source of vitamin D, but the article goes on to say that supplements may be in order.
There are many more articles available that describe the need for supplemental vitamin D (along with calcium)…
In summary, there appears to be a lot of information about the benefits and dosages of vitamin D on the web, and it looks like my brother, dang it, is right. Sunshine can be a valuable source of vitamin D but supplements (along with adequate calcium) is the most viable way to get optimum benefits.
So…what is your knowledge about this issue? Can you help me turn sunshine into the vitamin D answer?