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Vitamin D deficiency is a concern for most Americans

Doctors and medical experts have suggested we need to lather on the sunscreen for the last decade, but according to new reports, many Americans may be vitamin D deficient. According to a recent CNN report, the official guideline for vitamin D supplementation is set at 600 IU per day, but some say that amount is too low and claim we may need much as much as 20,000 IU each week to beat vitamin D deficiency.

Others claim the amount of vitamin D may not be easy to determine. Yes, vitamin D helps with bone growth and calcium absorption and getting the right foods and enough sunlight can help the body produce vitamin D, but medical experts still argue that we don’t know whether the casual consumption of vitamin D is enough to keep a healthy level of the nutrient circulating in the blood.

"Just about everyone is deficient in vitamin D today,” says Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., MD, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Holick. He supposes that it would take most people up to a half hour per day in the sun, every single day, to produce enough vitamin D from sun exposure. But he argues that may not be ideal for many people with certain skin cancer issues.

Who is most at risk for vitamin D deficiency?

Medical experts contend the problem may be more severe in certain risk groups. For instance, CNN reports “if you have dark skin, are of Asian, African or Middle-Eastern descent, live in a region that receives less sunlight, regularly wear sunscreen SPF 8 or higher, are a breastfeeding mother, have celiac or Crohn’s disease or live above the 37-degree latitude line you may need to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.”

Why does Vitamin D matter so much?

The truth is no one is quite sure why vitamin D is so important, but it is. For example, we know vitamin D is critical for bone health, to protect us from certain cancers, to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and protect against certain autoimmune disorders.

“Vitamin D receptors are in every cell of our body and we’ve already identified over 80 metabolic processes that are dependent on it," says Dr. Holick "There is a growing body of research which suggests that vitamin D might play a role in the prevention and treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance, multiple sclerosis and other medical conditions."

Can you consume too much Vitamin D?

Consuming too much vitamin D, however, can also be dangerous and may increase your risk of not only pancreatic cancer but also kidney damage. And unfortunately, because everyone has a variety of different health factors, such as weight, eating habits, and sun exposure levels it’s tough to give a general dosage recommendation which applied to everyone equally.

So how do you know how much vitamin D to consume? Experts suggest talking to your doctor first and following their advice. If you don’t have a doctor, experts recommend getting between 600 IU per day up to the recommended maximum of 4,000 IU.
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