"So Iím in the sun, but my D level was way low. Now I
take a 10,000 IU supplement a day and eat vitamin D foods, and
my level is almost normal."
D deficiency is not unique to people in cloudy Northern
states, said Kim Larson, a registered dietitian/nutritionist
in Seattle and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and
Dietetics. Itís a byproduct of our lifestyle."
stay inside in the North to keep warm, or in the
air-conditioning in the South to keep cool," Larson said.
"Instead of going outside to play, weíre inside, on our
computers. When weíre out, we wear clothing or sunscreen to
protect us from cancer."
the advent of D-fortified milk in 1932 eliminated widespread
rickets (soft bones) among children, milk is no longer a diet
staple. Gone are the "Ozzie and Harriet" days when
almost every meal included milk.
percent of adults are D-deficient, according to the most
recent National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey. The
percentage varies a lot by race: Blacks have the highest rate,
people she tests in Seattle lack enough vitamin D, Larson
said, and it is especially prevalent among teens. "They
complain of being sore and tired, and you think itís because
of their busy sports schedules," she said. "But they
arenít getting enough D."
the 60 adults in his 2014 study did not have enough D, said
Peter Horvath, associate professor of exercise and nutrition
sciences at the University of Buffalo in New York state.
"You might not see the effects for years, though, so you
donít know it," he warned.
D is the
closest thing to a magic bullet in the vitamin world,
affecting our health from every angle. It maintains our
calcium and phosphorous levels, which in turn strengthen our
immune system, keep us sharp and help prevent heart disease,
high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer.
D helps prevent osteoporosis (weak bones) and osteomalacia
prescribe high D levels for the treatment of a range of
ailments from autoimmune disorders to multiple sclerosis.
the right combination of food and sunlight, though, is
people are at greater risk for D deficiency because their skin
shields them from sunlight. Older peopleís skin is less able
to process sunlight. Being overweight means D is jailed by
your fat tissues instead of being used efficiently.
common medications, including diuretics and anti-seizure
drugs, counteract vitamin D.
doctor to give you a vitamin D test, which may not be part of
an annual exam, Larson said. Then a dietitian can prescribe a
custom combination of foods and supplements.
Rubin, 56, of Albuquerque, N.M., for example, a 2,000 IU
(international units) supplement of D keeps her on track. Sheís
a breast cancer survivor, has osteoporosis in her genes, eats
D-rich foods but avoids the sun ó all of which affect her D
and Leader Fuller said they read food labels because scouting
vitamin D in the grocery store is tricky. Outside of cod liver
oil and some fish, few foods meet the daily requisite of 600
IUs for people ages 1 to 70 and 800 for ages 71-plus, as
recommended by the Institute of Medicine of the National
cereals vary from 10 percent of the recommended level of D in
Raisin Bran to 25 percent in Total. The cup of 2 percent milk
you add to your cereal gives you only 25 percent.
favors D-rich sun-dried mushrooms. "Either eat mushrooms,
which you can dry yourself in your backyard, or add the
powdered form when you cook something like an omelet," he
grocery purchases for the "USP" stamp or the
triangular logo, Larson said. They tell you those goods have
been checked by independent labs.
also get some midday sunlight, sans sunscreen, although
experts concede this is not a reality for many of us. During
the winter, the Earthís tilt away from the sun reduces your
exposure. "Then, you could lie outside naked in the snow
and not get enough sun because of the sunís angle,"
next decade, weíll see a "burst of research about
vitamin D," Larson said. "Weíre learning more
about the effects of D on autoimmune diseases, cancer and
heart disease, especially."
will underscore the importance of D, Horvath said, the vitamin
we must chase "despite our immobile, indoor