Do You Take Vitamin D?

Sorry for the radio silence, everyone. Siobhan and I are slowly emerging from our very amazing (slash very exhausting) week!

As promised, we wanted to discuss the latest news about vitamin D. Many of you probably know that vitamin D has emerged in the last few years as a kind of miracle worker. Studies were conducted and, all of a sudden, D was being touted as a cancer-curing, body-scanning catch-all for health. (We reported as much in the book.) And just like that, everybody and their dog was diagnosed as vitamin D deficient while the market for supplements soared.

Now an expert panel is saying that the new higher recommendations for D are actually totally unfounded. Ruh roh. Here’s what the New York Times reported last week:

The 14-member expert committee was convened by the Institute of Medicine, an independent nonprofit scientific body, at the request of the United States and Canadian governments. It was asked to examine the available data — nearly 1,000 publications — to determine how much vitamin D and calcium people were getting, how much was needed for optimal health and how much was too much.

The two nutrients work together for bone health.

Bone health, though, is only one of the benefits that have been attributed to vitamin D, and there is not enough good evidence to support most other claims, the committee said.

Some labs have started reporting levels of less than 30 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood as a deficiency. With that as a standard, 80 percent of the population would be deemed deficient of vitamin D, Dr. Rosen said. Most people need to take supplements to reach levels above 30 nanograms per milliliter, he added.

But, the committee concluded, a level of 20 to 30 nanograms is all that is needed for bone health, and nearly everyone is in that range.

It sounds like the research is thorough and balanced, and the committee is being applauded by other reputable groups like the Mayo Clinic and the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. Of course, there are still vitamin D defenders who are saying there is no proven harm in dosing up either. As with all scientific studies, nothing is conclusive.

So where does that leave us, the guinea pigs? It’s unprofessional opinion time. As a rule I’m pretty skeptical of supplements and recommendations for high doses of them. Like cosmetics, the vitamin business is an unregulated industry and Siobhan and I are both of the mind that we should be getting our vitamins through food when possible. But because vitamin D is produce by the body through sun exposure, and not so much in food (unless you drink enriched milk), that’s a little trickier.

I, for one, do not take the supplements, though I had every intention to. I have a little milk in my Earl Grey, and I try to get very moderate sun exposure. But I do that mostly because I think it feels good (this is one of the only things Siobhan and I disagree on—in fact, it may be the only thing; she doesn’t do sun).

For now I think that’s sufficient but I will follow new research closely. What about you? Have you been tested for D deficiency? Do you take supplements? Do you think we’ve been foiled by industry once more?

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16 Responses to “Do You Take Vitamin D?”
  1. Angelys says:

    My doctor have me taking Vitamin D after a recent blood work and I have to go back soon for more blood work. If I don’t take it, I can have liver failure or something like that. IDK why, but I am going to take what’s needed to get better. Drinking lots of water helps too. I feel better.

  2. Kris says:

    I was tested a couple of years ago and my levels were low so my naturopath at the time put me on some supplements.
    To be honest, after using them for a while I wasn’t sure if it was the vitamin d supplements or the other supplements/herbal mixtures/change in diet I was put on that was making me feel healthier and more energetic.
    I have always said that I sometimes feel as though I am ‘solar powered’. Through Winter I struggle big time not seeing much sun. I think just getting out there and getting some rays for a short amount of time each day (where possible) is good for your overall wellbeing, helping to clear the mind and giving you a little happiness boost :)

  3. GFF says:

    I’m not sure if this is relevant, but I go to a holistic doctor and he recommended 15 minutes a day of sun exposure (without sunscreen) to me for insomnia. I don’t remember his exact explanation but it had to do with the natural sunlight as I woke up in the morning to help aid my sleep at night. Also, my father was diagnosed with skin cancer on his face 3 years ago and as a result avoids the sun at all costs and was recommended to take a vitamin D supplement because of his lack of sun exposure.

  4. J Dubbs says:

    the only vitamin D I get is from the sun! how do you get tested for vitamin D? it’s something I would never think to worry about

  5. ComaGirl says:

    I have never been diagnosed with a deficiency nor do I take supplements. I believe I receive enough Vitamin D from the sun because of where I live, although I do not unnecessarily expose myself to it.

    Annually, it seems there is always one nutrient that becomes a superstar and subsequently falls from grace. Remember Oat Bran anyone?

  6. rachel says:

    There is a lot of information about Vit D out there. is a good resource for anyone interested. We aren’t big supplement takers, but vit d is one that we do take. Living in Montana, we don’t get to have much sun exposure for a large part of the year. We spend most of our summers outside…hiking, camping, boating, etc, so we don’t supplement with vitamin d during the summer. It really does seem to help, though, during our long, gray winter days. I’ve noticed increased energy, better sleep and no colds or flu in our house…nary a sniffle :-).

    I absolutely believe in getting what your body needs through good, organic, whole foods. Sometimes, however, we just can’t get everything we need.

  7. x says:

    I take 2 glasses of milk every day, so I don’t think I need another vitamin pill. I think that its benefits are largely exaggerated.

  8. x says:

    I do take daily Vit C (ascorbid acid), though. Not sure if I technically need it or not, but it hasn’t hurt me yet.

  9. Heather D. says:

    After a recent blood work came back my PCP indicated I was vitamin D deficient. I do not like being in the sun for long because I would prefer not to get skin cancer. So I am taking a vitamin D supplement, when I remember. But I haven’t noticed a big difference since taking them.

  10. Rebecca says:

    I live North of 60, and Vit D has always been kind of on my radar…..being sufficient for bone health is only one part of the battle. As I understand it, your Vit D levels can affect your serotonin production and that’s not something I want to get on the low side….it’s hard enough getting up in the morning when it’s pitch black, if you add SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder/Winter-Blues) to the mix, it’s even harder.

  11. Genny G. says:

    I don’t take Vitamin D, I considered taking it right before this study came out during the winter. But now I am just going to try and go outside when the sun is actually out. I would probably take it if I lived any more north than I already do-these short days in the winter are sometimes hard to deal with. I do take extra Vitamin C (Emergen-C, which contains some other supplements in it) and an iron supplement because I don’t eat much meat and I run quite a bit which can put me at risk for anemia…when I have been running high mileages without iron I am considerably more irritable and tired.

    In general, I don’t like taking too many supplements and I think a balanced diet is the best idea to get what our bodies need!

  12. Carolyn says:

    I take 50,000 IU Prescription once a month as well as 1,000 + daily. I live in Texas where the sun is almost always out. I hate our summers so I stay out of the sun for about 6 months a year. Probably why I’m deficient!

  13. Raspberry Swirl says:

    I was recently diagnosed with melanoma, so I don’t plan to be soaking up any UV rays unprotected anytime soon. I’ve started taking Vitamin D to compensate for the lack of direct sunshine in my foreseeable future. Please be careful with your sun exposure ladies – the sun is a nuclear reactor and its rays can do your skin a lot of harm.

  14. Steffie says:

    Vitamin D deficiency is linked to problems with preterm labor, amongst other things. The current research now suggests increasing intake of D to something like 2000 IUs daily. I am not deficient, but I am lactating, so I take several supplements, D, iron, and omegas, and others. My son’s neurological development has been amazing as a result (omegas are especially good for the brain), but that might also be the daily infant massage in conjunction. Ladies, if you’re of childbearing age, I highly recommend increasing your D intake!

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