When it comes to healthy eating habits one should never overlook the need to supplement our diets with the right vitamins. Vitamin D has been getting a lot of press lately as a result of recent studies that are showing that we need much, much more of it. Experts are now arguing that the Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin D should be higher than the recommended 200 IU if you’re under 50 and 600 IU if you’re over 70. In fact, most are now recommending a minimum 1,000 IU a day. The reason for these recommendations is the beneficial effects that are being attributed to larger doses.
The strongest evidence for taking more Vitamin D comes from trials involving older adults that were giving vitamin D to reduce the incidence of bone fractures and falls and to increase muscle strength. What they found is that daily doses of 400 IU had little or no effect whereas larger doses of at least 800 IU had very positive effects. Daily doses of between 800 IU and 1,000 IU get the 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood level up to where it needs to be to lower the risk of breaking your hip or other bones and improve muscle performance and prevent falls.
It’s not a surprise that vitamin D would help prevent fractures since researchers have known for a long time that it helps the body absorb calcium from food, but the surprise findings are how it also helps with muscles, and stronger muscles lead to less falls in older people and falls are a huge risk as you age. In addition, vitamin D seems to affect the brain and help in maintaining your balance, again reducing the incidence of falls.
But more studies are coming fast and furious showing that vitamin D can have a positive impact on a wide range of other diseases.
There is growing evidence that having higher levels of vitamin D can lower the risk of breast and prostate cancer and even stronger evidence when it comes to colon cancer.
A number of studies are showing that people with higher levels of vitamin D had a 64% lower risk of diabetes. Vitamin D is required for optimal secretion of insulin as well as having a positive impact on the bodies responsiveness to insulin.
Periodontal disease is another area where higher levels of vitamin D are showing positive results. There is growing evidence that vitamin D impacts oral health by decreasing inflammation and can reduce the effects of gingivitis and tooth loss.
In a study of Army and Navy recruits in the U.S., researchers found that those with high levels of vitamin D had a 62 per cent lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis. There is much research going on regarding the impact of vitamin D on a number of auto-immune diseases but multiple sclerosis is showing the strongest link to vitamin D.
So clearly there are many benefits to be had by taking doses of vitamin D between 800 IU and 1,000 IU daily, but, what about the risks of taking too much. So far, research is showing that it would take mega doses to cause any serious side effects. In fact, in one study conducted at the University of Toronto, researchers gave patients with multiple sclerosis up to 40,000 IU per day with no ill effects.
One final note as to why vitamin D supplements are so important and should be a part of your healthy eating habits. Vitamin D is produced in our bodies by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light and of course, if you live anywhere where you experience winter you know that getting enough sunlight can be a problem, and since the concern for toxicity is low it’s prudent to just take a supplement all year-round.