Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Vitamin D Supplementation Is Important

Approximately one-half of the healthy North American population and four-fifths of those with chronic disease are Vitamin D deficient.  The recognition of this startling statistic over the past few years is the reason why Vitamin D deficiency is now considered a pandemic.  Those with vitamin D deficiency experience a 39% increase in annual healthcare costs than those with normal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to the following:
  1. osteoporosis
  2. cardiovascular disease
  3. cancer
  4. autoimmune diseases
  5. multiple sclerosis
  6. pain
  7. loss of cognitive function
  8. decreased strength
  9. increased rate of all-cause mortality
Exposure to sunlight is the most common method of getting Vitamin D3 in our systems. Since too much sunlight can increase your risk of melanoma a safer and more practical approach to Vitamin D intake it through pill or liquid form. But which form of Vitamin D is best?
Supplemental vitamin D is available in 2 distinct forms: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Pharmacologists have officially regarded these 2 forms as equivalent and interchangeable, yet this presumption of equivalence is based on studies of rickets prevention in infants conducted 70 years ago. The emergence of 25-hydroxyvitamin D as a measure of vitamin D status provides an objective, quantitative measure of the biological response to vitamin D administration. As a result, vitamin D3 has proven to be the more potent form of vitamin D in all primate species, including humans. Despite an emerging body of evidence suggesting several plausible explanations for the greater bioefficacy of vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D used in major preparations of prescriptions in North America is vitamin D2. The case that vitamin D2 should no longer be considered equivalent to vitamin D3 is based on differences in their efficacy at raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, diminished binding of vitamin D2 metabolites to vitamin D binding protein in plasma, and a nonphysiologic metabolism and shorter shelf life of vitamin D2. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 4, 694-697, October 2006).
To find out if you are deficient in Vitamin D3 contact your primary medical physician and request a blood test to determine the level of Vitamin D3 in your system.
Recommended dosing of Vitamin D3:  The loading dose of supplemental vitamin D3 should be about 20,000 IU/day for 3-6 months with a maintenance dose of 5,000 IU/day. Those taking this amount of supplemental vitamin D3 should periodically have their serum 25 (OH) D3 levels measured.

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