How Much Vitamin D Do You Really Need?

Vitamin D written in the sand

How much of the sunshine vitamin do you need?

Not long ago, the vitamin appeared to almost rival fish oil in health benefits it provides. Now, contradicting studies and reviews seem to be the order of the day. Do you really need vitamin D supplements? If so, how much per day should you take?

Let’s first look at some of the latest “findings” about the so-called “sunshine vitamin”.

Obviously, the supplements industry is not happy with this one. According to the new Institute of Medicine guidelines on vitamin D, nearly 80 million Americans do not need vitamin D supplements. The guidelines are based on a study by Loyola University, which suggests lower blood levels of the vitamin for one to be considered deficient.

The new guidelines advise that almost all people get sufficient vitamin D when their blood levels are at or above 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). Older guidelines said people needed vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml.

The study, which you can read on the Science Codex website, goes on to list the different guidelines for various health conditions, all lower than previous ones. But there is no consensus yet on this. Some would even deem this study controversial. Quoted from the same article:

However, the Institute of Medicine guidelines are controversial. For example, the Endocrine Society continues to endorse the older guidelines. Kramer said that people who are confused about how much vitamin D they need should consult with their doctors.

However there is a different view on this that borders on conspiracy theory. This one suggests that the federal government may be “keeping you sick by hiding facts on vitamin D”. According to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lee Hieb, the federal government’s guidelines for vitamin D may not offer sufficient amounts of the vitamin.

Dr. Heib, a new columnist at WND explained how the daily allowance of Vitamin D, mainly D3 is lacking in millions of people through the federal government’s guideline of (600-800 IU) and that such levels are misleading and unhealthy. She said such recommendations by the federal government are based on so-called medical “consensus” rather than actual scientific facts.

She said as a result, such a “consensus” has been robbing patients of their health. See full the post

Dr. Hieb is not alone on this one. Celebrity doctor, Mehmet Oz, recommends supplementing with at least 1000 IU of vitamin D3 (which is said to be the most active form).

So, what is the right dosage of vitamin D supplement? Well, this is one tricky animal. Consider this:

  • You can’t really tell how much of the vitamin you get from the sun.
  • Your geographic location may determine how much you get from the sun.
  • You get more or less from the sun depending on the season.
  • Those who work outdoors typically get more exposure than those who work indoors.
  • Older people absorb less vitamin D through the skin than younger people.
  • The amount of skin pigment plays a part.
  • Your body weight may determine your blood levels of the vitamin.

In 1997, the recommended amounts of vitamin D were changed to account for different ages. Amounts are now given in Adequate Intake (AI) and not Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The recommendations are significantly lower than those suggested by Dr. Hieb and Dr. Oz.

The nearer you are to the Equator the less likely you are to be in need of vitamin D supplements, presuming you spend approximately 15 minutes or more everyday in out the sun without sunscreen. For most healthy, younger people, taking a good daily multivitamin may be sufficient. Of course, consulting a knowledgeable healthcare professional would be the best way to find out if you need a supplement, and the dosage.

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