Newsflash…Before you ‘D’ know the facts. New recommendations from EMAS.

Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in bone health, diet | 0 comments

Vitamin D. Lately it’s been touted as the cure-all for all that ails. From bone health and diabetes, to cancer and infections, vitamin D is the go-to supplement. But, do you really need it? And how much should you be taking on a daily basis?

Vitamin D levels are reportedly low in women undergoing menopause and because it is necessary to maintain bone health, there is no question that it’s in great demand by our bodies. This is especially true of fair skinned individuals, women, and people who live at higher altitudes. In fact, research shows that a number of factors can influence how the body synthesizes or produces Vitamin D, including altitude, time of year (e.g. winter) time of day, amount of exposed skin at any given time, skin pigmentation, extensive use of sun protection (i.e. sunscreen, protective clothing, shade) and air pollution). However, the more news that comes out about vitamin D, the more confusion abounds as to its true benefits and how much you should be taking.

Some of that much needed detail is provided in a recent statement issued by the European Menopause and Andropause Society. Rather that put you to sleep with all the details, here a few highlights that sets current knowledge about vitamin D on the correct path:

  • Although there have been a ton of studies on vitamin D, linking it to outcomes and risks and benefits in a variety of conditions, evidence for its benefit is strongest in terms of bone/skeletal health.
  • Osteoporosis is very common in postmenopausal women leading to increased fracture risk. It appears that adequate levels of vitamin D may help preserve bone structure and contribute to the function of muscles. In studies, women with the lowest vitamin D blood levels were shown to have the highest fracture risk.
  • Healthy postmenopausal women can insure that their body’s levels of vitamin D are optimized by exposing skin to the sun, 15 minutes at a time at least three to four times a week during Spring, Summer and Fall. This does not include artificial UV exposure from tanning booths.
  • Experts recommend that women supplement sun exposure with no more than 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D supplements a day.
  • If you are someone at risk for low vitamin D levels, you should see your doctor or health care practitioner for screening to achieve optimal vitamin D levels.
  • Women who are obese, have conditions that prevent proper absorption of nutrients (for example, HIV or chronic diarrhea) or have liver or kidney issues need to have tailored vitamin D recommendations.

And the news about over supplementation and toxicity? First of all, you can never get vitamin D toxicity through sunlight (although as we know, too much sun can lead to other problems, like skin cancer). And, toxicity issues have been linked to dosages above 50,000 IU over several months time. Last, women with cancer are likely to convert vitamin D in the body faster, so need lower levels. Again, this calls for monitoring by a health practitioner.

Overall, before you ‘D.’ know the facts. These recommendations are a great start.


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