Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
The Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Team is fortunate to include registered dietitian Sarah Zangerle, RD, CD. Sarah wrote the following article and wanted us to share it on our blog. Thanks, Sarah!
Winter has hit Wisconsin hard! The cold weather is accompanied by shorter days and minimal sunlight. Try to imagine back to those warm sunny days in June, July and August. The sunlight felt so good against our skin. Even better, the sun brought something else important to our body …vitamin D.
Since vitamin D is found in very limited quantities in the diet, the major source of vitamin D for the human body is exposure to sunlight. Exposure to UVB rays on the arms and face help us to make vitamin D. The reason why “the sunshine vitamin” has been getting so much attention lately is due to a pandemic of vitamin D deficiency across the world.
Here in Wisconsin, we are unable to make sufficient vitamin D during the fall and winter months from sunlight alone. Given our northern latitude on planet Earth, some believe that Wisconsin-ites aren’t able to make enough vitamin D from the sun during the summer months either, especially for some elderly or handicapped individuals who spend limited amounts of time outside.
What good is Vitamin D anyway?
Vitamin D performs a variety of functions in the body. Vitamin D is crucial for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. It is most commonly known for aiding in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus into the bone. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk for osteoporosis and has been linked to many other diseases, including increased risk of breast and colorectal cancer. Deficiency has also been linked to increased risk of developing heart disease and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D receptors are also found in the brain which could link deficiency to neurodegenerative disorders including Parkinson’s disease. In a recent study, individuals with PD were found to have higher prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency compared with other healthy adults.
How much do I need a day?
During summer months, 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure during peak sun hours (10:00 am to 2:00 pm) on arms and face provides sufficient UVB rays to make adequate vitamin D. The recommended adequate intake is 400 IU per day for adults aged 51-70 years and 600 IU for adults 71 years or older.
Where can I get it from?
Food sources are not very rich in vitamin D, but provide some supplemental intake. Milk has about 100 IU in 1 cup, canned salmon has 360 IU in 3 oz, canned tuna in oil contains 200 IU per 3 oz serving, and eggs contain 20 IU in each yolk.
What about supplements?
Most multivitamins contain between 50-400 IU per capsule; however this may not be enough to meet nutrition needs. We are still waiting for new recommendations to come out this year (2010) on how much vitamin D we need to maintain sufficient levels. During winter months a supplement of 1000-2000 IU per day with a meal should be adequate to maintain normal levels. If you are concerned, consider requesting to have your vitamin D level checked by your primary care doctor. Be prepared to take a higher dose supplement if you are deficient.
Posted 11:16 AM