2000 IU vitamin D is often recommended as a daily dose maximum but in many people's opinions, whether professional or lay person, this falls way too short in terms of our general health needs, never mind when we are not well and need a boost. Vitamin D has been a regular feature in the health news recently, with many scientific reports claiming that it provides for extra protection against everything from high blood pressure to a variety of cancers. Where the jury is still out on its ability to prevent most of these conditions, vitamin D is mostly not questioned for its ability to boost bone health, immune system capabilities and general health.
As mentioned, different organisations or healthcare professionals recommend different things:
2000 IU vitamin D as a standard dosage is therefore impractical as there are many things to be considered.
While rare, too much vitamin D can cause toxicity. The symptoms include nausea, weakness, and raised blood levels of calcium, which may lead to mental confusion and heart rhythm problems.
Then there is a bit of an issue with specific medications that can impair absorbency capabilities of vitamin D or calcium. Not being made publicly aware of what these specific medications are, it is best to consult with your doctor about any planned vitamin D intake, if you take any medications regularly.
On many nutritional labels, the vitamin D quantity is usually listed as a Percent Daily Value (DV). This represents the amount as a percentage of your vitamin D needs, based on a diet of 2,000 calories. Obviously with such differing opinions, this becomes difficult to decipher. Vitamin D, as an organic compound, is fat-soluble. This means that some dietary fat is required to enable its absorption into your system. A lack of the vitamin puts us at risk for painful, weak muscles, inadequate bone mineralization, and skeletal deformities in children (rickets), as well as mineral loss and soft bones in adults (osteomalacia).
In young babies that are breast fed by a mother with a lack of Vitamin D, there have been some unfortunate bone fracture occurrences due to inadequate bone densities that have even resulted in the parents being accused of child abuse.
Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) present in the skin. So, if you have decided you need to obtain 2000 IU vitamin D on a daily basis, the question is - can this be done by exposure to the sun's UV rays? There are varying opinions on this answer.
Exposure to the sun's UV rays without sufficient protection, is not something condoned by those organisations or individuals such as dermatologists, that discourage too much exposure due to the potential for skin cancer. To obtain a decent amount of Vitamin D through the photosynthesis process of exposing your skin to the sun's UVB rays, you ideally are required to be in the midday sun, unprotected, for about 20 minutes. The time of exposure actually depends on your skin type of course plus your capacity for burning. Burning your skin is exactly what NOT to do. So, If not managed sufficiently well, the sunshine cure has the potential to be worse than the condition.
So, the question often asked by thousands of vitamin D-deficient people, is "can obtaining this so-called "sunshine vitamin" actually endanger rather than boost my health"? In my opinion, if it's only 2000 IU vitamin D that I require, being an "average caucasian", 10 minutes of midday exposure seems to be an adequate time to obtain this and therefore reasonably easy to manage without causing any damage to my skin.
Another medical opinion I found interesting with this view in mind is from Roy Geronemus, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center and director of the Skin/Laser Division at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary. He believes that we are capable of producing only a limited amount of vitamin D from UVB rays, after which any further exposure will actually destroy the vitamin, thus decreasing the vitamin D levels back down to what he perceives to be a "production limit". "A few minutes at midday are sufficient for many Caucasians," says Dr. Geronemus.
If being in the sun is difficult for you, or you are impacted by one of the factors above, you may want to look at supplementation in order to obtain 2000 IU vitamin D on a daily basis.
While it is really only oily fish that provide an adequate level of Vitamin D, there are several other foods that provide some amounts, including those below. As a basic start, look for products labeled "for bone health" or "with calcium" as these will usually contain vitamin D to aid in calcium absorption. Just make sure there is enough Vit D to make it worth your while.
Understanding the following levels of Vitamin D in some food items - as portrayed by The Skin Cancer Foundation - will perhaps help to elevate your daily levels beyond the 2000 IU Vitamin D. However, it appears to me that 2000 IU vitamin D per day is really only just enough as a maintenance level. Your body will thank you for looking for more - at least 5000 IU is more like it! In this table below, Cod liver oil seems the best way to go by far!
I am also not one to favour 'fortified foods' that much as I like to keep my diet as clean and non-processed as possible. Give me sunshine any day! That way 2000 IU vitamin D is easy.