Monday, September 21, 2009

Vitamin D Part II - How to Ensure You're Getting Enough

Continued from Part I

Now that we know why we need vitamin D and who is at risk for deficiency, let’s explore the daily requirements and how to achieve them.

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 200 IU (5 mcg) for children and adults up to age 50. 50 to 70 year-olds require 400 IU (10 mcg), and men and women over age 70 need 600 IU’s (15 mcg), due to the decrease in absorption rates with age. However, some medical research is inclined to believe these RDA’s are rather low. Preventative benefits can be achieved with up to 1000 IU’s and therapeutic applications for cancer or diabetes might prescribe a consumption of 2000 IU’s daily.

Vegetarians and vegans (especially) have a more difficult time achieving healthy vitamin D levels than omnivores. Fish has an abundance of D, with a 3 ounce can of tuna fish providing 200 IU’s. A tablespoon of cod liver oil contains a whopping 1350 IU’s. Non-meat sources have significantly less amounts.

Vegetarian food sources of vitamin D (based on RDA of 200 IU’s):

One cup fortified milk: 50%
One cup fortified soymilk: 50%
One tablespoon fortified margarine: 30%
One egg: 12%
One cup fortified cereal: 20%
Silk brand soy yogurt (8 oz.) 60%
One cup diced swiss cheese: 30%
One cup sliced white mushrooms: 12%

Foods that will impede calcium absorption

Since vitamin D works as an assistant to calcium, if you are losing too much calcium, you will require higher amounts of D. Salt, alcohol, caffeine, excessive ingestion of animal protein and a lack of exercise can rob your body of valuable calcium.

Vegetarians and vegans should eat a good deal of dark green vegetables, sesame seeds and blackstrap molasses to increase calcium levels while enjoying benefits from non-dairy sources.

Again, check out this unique vitamin D sunshine calculator based on your location and race.


Vitamin D ingestion through retail supplements is the fastest way to get more D in your diet. Vitamin D in liquid form will enable your body to absorb the nutrient quickly. Most supplementation is specifically vitamin D3, and is derived from sheep's wool, and therefore not suitable for vegans.

A product such as this one can make it easy to get 1,000 IU's in no time.

Too much vitamin D can be a bad thing

Excessive intake of D can lead to hypercalcemia and other health problems. Do not consume over 2,000 IU’s vitamin D daily for a prolonged period.

Drug interactions

Vitamin D has been known to interact with the following medications: Estrogen, Isoniazid, certain diuretics, antacids, channel blockers, cholesterol medications, anticonvulsants, mineral oil and weight loss supplements such as alli and olestra. Each of these products may inhibit or encourage vitamin D levels, or affect the efficacy of the medications.

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