I finally found a vitamin D3 supplement that I am willing to take for my presumed deficiency. I say presumed because I haven’t actually had my 25-Hydroxyvitamin D serum levels tested. I’m skipping that step because the values haven’t been standardized and, besides, I’d have to self-pay.
But, why wouldn’t I have low vitamin D levels? The most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) estimated that 25% to 57% of adults have insufficient levels of vitamin D. Other studies set the number as high as 70% for some segments of the population.
Vitamin D is made when the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit the skin. There are many reasons why I wouldn’t get enough. I work indoors (UVB rays don’t penetrate glass), live in the northern latitude, often wear sunscreen, and I’m getting older. Those factors push me towards the brittle bones that are conclusively related to a lack of vitamin D. Less conclusive are the links to cancers, heart disease, autoimmune conditions, and, it seems, to whatever else ails you including colds and flu and forgetfulness.
The RDA for vitamin D is set at 600 International Units (IUs) per day from food. That amount meets the needs of 98% of healthy people. But Americans don’t eat nearly enough vitamin D. According to NHANES, average intake is 204 to 288 IU/day for males, and for females, the range is 144 to 276 IU/day. Vitamin D is found in only a few foods: oily fish and cod liver oil are the most important sources, followed by egg yolks, liver, and mushrooms. And while 3-ounces of cooked salmon supplies 477 IUs, one egg has only 40. Milk has been fortified with vitamin D since the 1930s, but 16 ounces supplies a little more than half of the RDA. Some brands of orange juice, yogurt, cheese, margarine, and breakfast cereals are also fortified. Scroll down to see the vitamin D content of selected foods.
I thought I should take some vitamin D, but I couldn’t stomach another pill. I take a multivitamin, a prescription med, two fish oil capsules, a curcumin capsule, and a calcium tablet sometimes. But then the folks from Nature Made invited me to look at a few of their products, and I accepted the offer because they are big on scientific research and purity, and because we met at 250 Greenwich Street, the new World Trade Center Tower 7. I’m a sucker for a skyscraper with a fantastic view.
Nature Made’s vitamin D3 (the active form) comes in a grape-flavored chewable tablet that tastes like a sweet tart. Each tablet supplies 1,000 IUs, the daily amount commonly advised. The leading vitamin D scholar, Dr. Michael Holick, recommends taking up to 2,000 IU per day (4,000 IUs is the Tolerable Upper Limit.) And so now, if I get about 250 IUs from milk, 500 IUs in my multivitamin, and 1,000 IUs in one sweet-tart. I am covered.
Your thoughts: How do you manage to get enough vitamin D?