Vitamin D: How much do you need?

We know Vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones.   Recently, however, more evidence has linked low Vitamin D levels to things like heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes.  So how much do you need?  There’s debate.  Allow me to weigh in.

Different individual needs

Vitamin D is the so-called “sunshine vitamin”.  Our bodies convert rays from the sun into Vitamin D.  Therefore, individuals who get less direct sunlight (generally speaking the elderly), those with darker skin (they don’t make Vitamin D as well) or those living in northern climates need to take in higher amounts.

The Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D is 400 IU.  Consider this your minimum.
What the hell is 400 IU?  Well from the sun, our body produces 6 IU of Vitamin D per square inch of skin exposed per hour of sun exposure.  So exposing your face to the sun for 2 to 3 hours a day is probably gonna get you to the minimum.  And yes, using sunblock slows this process.

We only get Vitamin D from our diet through animal sources.  If you eat little meat or dairy, you should definitely take a daily supplement.

A daily intake of 2,000 IU is a good target for everyone .  The “tolerable upper limit” of Vitamin D is set at 4,000 IU by those in charge.  But recent evidence suggests higher doses offer more protection against disease.  And the threat of toxicity is only theoretical until dosage approaches 10,000 IU.

This matter is hotly debated.  Some experts advocate for doses closer to 4,000 IU while others believe anything over 1,500 IU is dangerous.  In my estimation 2,000 IU is a good compromise.  

Note: Children under 25 pounds should aim for 1,000 IU daily.

Additional info: Vitamin D Council


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