Vitamin D Revisited
A new study by University of California-San Diego and Creighton University looked at the basis for the current RDA for vitamin D as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Institute of Medicine (IOM).
What they found is nothing short of shocking. According to their research, the RDA recommendation is a mere one-tenth of what we should be getting.
Looking at the Numbers
Researchers analyzed the same studies that provided the basis for the IOM recommendations. They found lapses in the statistical analysis that led to the current RDA of 600 IU per day for adults up to age 70. Their analysis found that a RDA of approximately 7,000 IU per day from all sources would better fill the nutritious needs and reduce deficiency risks.
The findings are significant, given the important role that vitamin D plays in muscle function, cardiovascular health, and brain development. Some studies even suggest that it may play a role in colon cancer.
The Importance of Vitamin D
The importance of vitamin D can not be overestimated. A study by Wellcome Trust found that it influences expression in over 200 genes. This fat-soluble nutrient also has unique characteristics.
Our bodies can produce vitamin D with exposure to sunlight. Getting adequate amounts isn’t an issue if you’re outdoors a lot. But that isn’t the case even in winter. The sun angle at northern latitudes prevents adequate sunlight exposure to produce vitamin D.
Other groups may have a similar risk. If you work indoors primarily, you may not produce enough vitamin D. Other than fortified products, it can be difficult to get adequate amounts. The best dietary sources include egg yolks, fatty fish, and beef liver. If you don’t get enough, diet changes and possibly supplements can help you meet the RDA.
Changes in Recommendations
The idea that the RDA for vitamin D wasn’t enough isn’t new. The non-profit organization, the Vitamin D Council, has campaigned on this issue for years. The council offers affordable home vitamin D test kits if you have any concerns about your nutrient levels.
The disconcerting thing about this study is that it brings to light a statistical error that has significant impacts on public health. Considering that vitamin D influences calcium uptake in your body, the implications are compelling. And it’s certainly a worthwhile topic to bring up at your next doctor’s appointment. Vitamin D deficiencies and their complications are preventable.