Vitamin D is cheap, easy to take, has no side effects except in very high doses, and most of the U.S. is deficient. And its costing us hip fractures, muscle strength, common cancers and autoimmune system function. 1 billion people worldwide are deficient.
About 50 percent of patients with hip fractures admitted to the hospital from home have severe vitamin D deficiency. And 75 percent among patients admitted from nursing homes or assisted living.
Severe vitamin D deficiency means vitamin D levels below 30 nmol/L. The right vitamin D level to ask your doctor to measure?
Its 25-(OH)D, meaning 25 hydroxy D. To improve leg function and strength, or prevent hip fracture, your level should be from 50 to 100 nmol/L. To prevent fall related fractures, taking the standard 400 IU is not nearly enough.
The rule of thumb: about 100 IU raises your vitamin D blood level by 1 nmol/L.
So, if you want to supplement precisely, get your level measured. Most people will need at least 1000 IU.
If you live above a line drawn between San Jose and Norfolk, Virginia, you have to get it with a supplement from October through April.
The suns angle is so low during the winter months that light cant make it through the atmosphere with enough intensity to activate the Vitamin D in your skin.
If you live below that line, youre in luck: 12 minutes on your arms, face and legs, without sun block, will get you about 3000 IU daily. Twice a week should do it for many people.
Or, just look for vitamin D3 on the shelf, and make sure to take it with food with a little fat—vitamin D is best absorbed when it is in oil, or surrounded by it.