Tuesday, October 16th, 2018

The 1 Vitamin Most of Us Are Deficient In

Published on February 25, 2010 by   ·   6 Comments Pin It
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Today your mission is to get the one vitamin most of us are deficient in. And Guest Blogger Marisa Miller Wolfson (of Kind Green Planet) will tell you exactly how;

This vitamin is actually acts more like a hormone, and we produce it naturally when we get enough sunlight. You know where I’m going with this–it’s vitamin D!

girl with sunglasses

Look at some of the cool things that D does:

– protects our immune system
– regulates cell growth
– prevents inflammation
– does your taxes (kidding–just making sure you’re awake!)
– promotes calcium absorption and builds strong bones

In fact, without D, only 10 – 15 percent of dietary calcium is absorbed by the body.

Unfortunately, 1 billion people don’t get enough vitamin D, which includes the majority of people who live at higher latitudes. In winter months, we’re especially at risk, and those who have darker skin are even more at risk.

New studies come out every few months, it seems, linking D deficiency to all kinds of conditions and diseases, including but not limited to:

-osteoporosis
-multiple cancers
-heart disease
-diabetes
-musculoskeletal diseases
-thyroid disease
-depression

It’s D or die, man!

So, what can we do?

Dr. Fuhrman says in this article that sunlight “is perhaps the most important source of vitamin D because exposure to sunlight provides most humans with their vitamin D requirement.”

Here are the challenges we face in relying solely on the sun:

-Most of us work indoors during prime sunlight time.
-Glass filters UV rays, so sitting by a window doesn’t work.
-We need to wear sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, yet even weak sunscreens (SPF 8) block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by 95%. In the summertime, an easy solution might be to skip sunscreen on your legs for the first 15 minutes in the sun.

world latitudes-The farther you are from the equator, the more sunlight you need.
-If you live north of 42 degrees latitude, you will probably need additional vitamin D from supplements during the winter.

Vegan registered dietitian Jack Norris explains in his page on bones, Vitamin D, and calcium:

If you get exposed to the following amounts of midday sun (10 am to 2 pm), without sunscreen, on a day when sunburn is possible (i.e., not winter or cloudy), then you do not need any dietary vitamin D that day:

On all other days, you should take 25 mcg (1,000 IU) of vitamin D2.

Country Life makes one that is commonly available in natural foods stores in the U.S. and is fairly inexpensive. Deva makes one that can be ordered by mail.

Meanwhile, Dr. Fuhrman’s vegan Osteo-Sun supplement contains 1800 IU of D2, plus 375 mg of calcium and 150 mg of magnesium. That’s what I take. Dr. Fuhrman also has a non-vegan Osteo-Sun made with D3 (usually from sheep’s wool or fish), whereas his vegan version is made with D2 (usually from yeast). Most non-dairy milks are fortified with D2, whereas most cow milks are fortified with D3, although unless you’re chugging milk all day, it probably won’t be enough D to get you through winter.

So, if you’re thinking about kicking up your intake of this important nutrient, I say, “just D it!”‘

Marisa Miller Wolfson is the Outreach Director for Kind Green Planet, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching people about healthy, humane, eco-friendly living. She’s currently in post-production for her documentary about veganism and is co-drafting a city council resolution to lower NYC’s global warming “foodprint.” She also loves coaching people on plant-based living through Vegan at Heart, a free email mentoring program for treehuggers, animal lovers, and health nuts who consider themselves vegans at heart but not necessarily in practice.

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Readers Comments (6)

  1. Kathy says:

    I was deficient and a bit shocked by that! I wrote about my experience here: http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2010/02/vitamin-d-discussion-d2-vs-d3-vegan.html

  2. Great article, I’ve started taking more vitamin D in the winter time and noticed such a big difference.

    I WISH Vitamin D did my taxes!!!

  3. Lere says:

    In a word you are wrong

    Mad dogs and ….

    CONTRARY to what is expected, many studies have come to the conclusion that vitamin D concentrations are generally higher among people in northern Europe than among people in southern Europe [30], [31]. Our average serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are in line with the earlier Swedish values estimated in the MORE study [30]. These values were, independent of season, approximately 30% higher than the average among people from central and southern Europe. The results have been explained by a diet containing more vitamin D-fortified foods, lighter skin and wearing lighter clothing when being outdoors during the summer [30], [31]. Our results indicate that our genes, as well as environmental factors, contribute to our vitamin D status. Higher vitamin D concentrations in northern countries may have a genetic basis.

    Why are Europeans white?

    For a given amount of sun whites will have higher levels of vitamin D than blacks for genetic reasons, in fact they have higher levels for the same exposure than even southern Europeans. There are dangers in humans of tropical ancestry trying to raise their vitamin d levels to Northern Europeans’ natural levels, let alone trying to attain the very high putative ‘optimums’ that are now close to being officially recommended for everbody and which only 3% of English people reach with normal sun exposure.

    UNFORTUNATELY our norms for adequate vitamin intake are based on subjects or populations of European origin. We are thus diagnosing vitamin-D deficiency in non-European individuals who are, in fact, perfectly normal. This is particularly true for African Americans, nearly half of whom are classified as vitamin-D deficient, even though few show signs of calcium deficiency which would be a logical outcome. Indeed, this population has less osteoporosis, fewer fractures, and a higher bone mineral density than do Euro-Americans, who generally produce and ingest more vitamin D .
    […]
    By pathologizing non-Europeans as being vitamin-D deficient, modern medicine is paving the way for programs that are well intentioned but ultimately tragic in their consequences: mass vitamin-D supplementation to be dispensed through the school system and awareness campaigns. Such public health programs have already been proposed for African Americans and northern indigenous peoples.

    What will be the outcome of raising vitamin-D levels in these populations? Keep in mind that we are really talking about a hormone, not a vitamin. This hormone interacts with the chromosomes and gradually shortens their telomeres if concentrations are either too low or too high. Tuohimaa (2009) argues that optimal levels may lie in the range of 40-60 nmol/L. In non-European populations the range is probably lower. It may also be narrower in those of tropical origin, since their bodies have not adapted to the wide seasonal variation of non-tropical humans.

    If this optimal range is continually exceeded, the long-term effects may look like those of aging:”

  4. […] GirlieGirl Army, “Unfortunately, 1 billion people don’t get enough vitamin D, which includes the majority […]

  5. Abby says:

    During the winter months when you can’t get the right amount of vitamin d from the sun…what about another option instead of a supplement…Dr. Mercola has a tanning system that is a safe and effective way of getting the natural vitamin d your body needs…
    any thoughts about this?

  6. Marisa says:

    A friend of mine got a Happy Lite in addition to her Vitamin D supplement and totally licked her Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those who don’t do D, a safe sun lamp is a great alternative.




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