Friday, December 3, 2010

vitamin D

Last summer I commented to a stranger neighbor that her yard was beautiful. She came off her porch and started chatting with me. After about 5 minutes of talking, somehow the conversation led to the fact that she KNOWS that almost everyone in oregon is vitamin D deficient and that everyone SHOULD take a 1000 IU supplement because it's impossible to get enough vitamin D in oregon.

Vitamin D is the new buzzword. Everyone thinks that they are so smart because they know that they should be taking vitamin D. I can't tell you how many people have encouraged me to take it not knowing that I am a dietitian. "Oh really"....is what I often say........

It is true that oregonians don't make vitamin D in the winter. On my commute to salem I pass the 45th parallel - above that line you certainly don't get a full blast of the suns rays in the winter and thus aren't able to make vitamin D. But that doesn't mean that you need to be super supplementing - which is something that a lot of people have been recommending recently.

The institute of medicine recently updated the recommended intake of vitamin D. http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13050 They suggest that 600 IU is enough for most people and warn that over supplementing can be dangerous. I like this level headed recommendation because people tend to overdo it when they hear that this or that vitamin is important. There is just so much research out there that proves something and then disproves something that I think it's important to stick somewhere in the middle - which is what this recommendation does.

but it should be known that vitamin D is tricky. They are different recommendations on what the appropriate blood levels of the vitamin should be. Some scientists suggest the previous normal was sufficient, but not optimal - thus the squabble in recent news that you should be taking loads of vitamin D to make sure your level is OPTIMAL. I don't know how I feel about that. I try to avoid taking supplements at all costs. I think that god created the earth and our bodies and as long as we are consuming the things god created for us we should be just fine. But the problem is that most of the times we consume more man-made food than god-made food. And in vitamin D's case, we also use sunscreen which limits our natural ability to make vitamin D....

So what do I do to make sure I'm getting enough vitamin D? I would prefer to eat salmon 3 days a week (~450 IU per 3 oz) - but that doesn't fit in the budget - so I drink at least 4 cups of milk every day (100 IU each cup), eat 1/2 cup of yogurt (~100 IU each serving), eat at least 2 and sometimes 3 cans of tuna per week (~200 IU each) and I eat a wide variety of other foods that likely contain little bits of vitamin D here and there. I take a prenatal vitamin year round because of Anna and my usual limited in take of iron - but there is 400 IU of vitamin D in there - which is a bonus. Next summer when i am free from breast feeding and pregnany I won't take a supplement because I'll get plenty of vitamin D from the sun - all other vitamins and minerals from the garden - and won't need that extra Iron for anna.

so what should you do? Well do you drink milk? do you eat fish? Do you live where the sun shines? If you answered no to those questions, then you should probably take a supplement when you don't see the sun - and I would keep it to 600-800 IU - unless you doc. tells you otherwise.

But I am just another opinion in the crowd. I didn't read all the research, I didn't do any of the research and I am by no means an expert. Like I said before, I think we need to eat what god meant for us to eat - there are many more benefits to eating fish than vitamin D- like the omega threes and other god created components that we simply don't know about! - so when you can, get it from food (or the sun) - otherwise you can try to patch up your diet with vitamin supplements (and fortified foods like milk and yogurt) and pray that it works......

6 comments:

Jessica and Bronson said...

Well put Nicole!

Liv said...

This was really nice to read. My pediatrician wrote Aspen a prescription for VD and I was like... um, why? It's summer! I didn't even bother filling it.

I drink milk like it's going out of style, so I'm hoping that is sufficient for the winter!

amylynn said...

I love it... you should add that to the papers editorial. They should hire you to write a colomn called something like, "So, you think you're a dietician?" or "Warnings against being a WACKO!"

Paul said...

I also read the reports this wee & I agree with your posting. Food is always the best choice. But I mean food - not "food-like substances". The debate goes on as to the need for & value of any vitamin, mineral, or phytochemical supplementation for those without an obvious deficiency. Vitamin E was the miracle supplement of the 70s & 80s - to very little benefit. The hype has continued - first one substance, then another. How much glucosamine has been sold - & yet the studies do not show concrete benefit? Eat a variety of food - less processed - more fruits & veg. And learn to be moderate - a hard thing for humans. RD MOM

Kristin said...

Thanks for sharing Nicole. I had been wondering about vitamin D. Looks like I should up my intake of tuna since we can't afford salmon very often either. :)

Oblad girl said...

Wow... I had no idea this was an issue.