Who Might Need To Take Vitamin D Supplements And How Might They Help?

Victoria Maizes, M.D, ArizonaABCNEWS.com

Question: Who might need to take vitamin D supplements and how might they help?

Answer: We're facing a vitamin D deficiency epidemic in our country. In fact, a 2009 Journal of Pediatrics article showed that 70 percent of children are vitamin D deficient. Similarly, many adults are vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, and normally we make it in our skin upon exposure to sunshine. However, the widespread use of sunscreens had an unintended consequence, and that's when we use sunscreen we block up to 99 percent of the conversion of vitamin D into its active forms in our skin. So, many people need to get additional vitamin D.

Milk, for example, has been fortified with vitamin D, but only at very low doses, and oily fish is a good source of vitamin D, but for many people those sources are not sufficient, and taking a dietary supplement that contains vitamin D3 at 1,000 international units a day may be indicated. Vitamin D levels can be tested with ease, and I recommend that people do find out their vitamin D level. It's a 25-hydroxy vitamin D that you need to have tested, and then you can either go out into the sun more or supplement with the appropriate dose of vitamin D to bring you into normal levels.