As with other vitamins, getting the proper amount of vitamin D is important to optimize health outcomes. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for people ages 19 and older is 600IU per day for both men and women. People over age 70 are often recommended to consume 800IU daily. However, vitamin D deficiencies are widespread. Individuals concerned about not getting enough should ask a pharmacist the following questions.
1. What is a sign I need more vitamin D?
Low vitamin D levels can be incredibly common. However, some groups are more likely to struggle with getting enough of the nutrient. In particular, post-menopausal women, individuals on long-term steroids, the elderly, pregnant and breastfeeding women, obese people, and individuals with chronic kidney disease or parathyroid disease are more likely to have a deficiency. Fatigue, poor sleep and general aches are often signs of low vitamin D levels.
2. Do I also need calcium?
Vitamin D is interesting in that the nutrient relies on sunlight to be processed by the body but also works in conjunction with calcium to yield the best benefits for a person. In particular, vitamin D ensures the bones can properly absorb calcium, thus staving off dangerous conditions like osteoporosis. A healthcare provider or pharmacist can best advise if dietary sources of calcium are sufficient or if an extra supplement is needed.
3. How much vitamin D should I take?
The RDA guidelines are 600IU per day. If symptoms suggest a person has vitamin D deficiency a consultation with a healthcare profession is recommended before taking more vitamin D. For example, a person with a more chronic condition like advanced kidney disease might need a higher dose than an active person. Although being in the sun may provide more vitamin D, sunscreens and clothing could prevent absorption.
Enough vitamin D year-round
Natural dietary sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and swordfish. Many juices and foods are fortified with nutrients that can boost levels. Although adequate vitamin D levels are essential year-round, patients should be especially aware of the potential for low levels during the winter. A simple blood test can assess vitamin D levels, allowing for a personalized supplementation plan.