- To [Vitamin] D or Not to D? That Is the Question – a very interesting debate. Two leading experts in the field of vitamin D agreed to disagree at the 2013 European Congress on Endocrinology, during a lighthearted debate on the subject of whether or not everyone needs more vitamin D.
Their arguments were backed up by some serious science. They both concurred that there are certain groups of people in whom it is necessary to ensure that vitamin-D levels are sufficient, such as pregnant women and those at risk for or with osteoporosis. And they also agreed on one way people can obtain more vitamin D: by going out in the sun for 30 minutes per day.
They disagreed however about who needs to take vitamin D supplements. The vitamin-D proponent, Chantal Mathieu, MD, from Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium, said the list of people who need sufficient vitamin D “is so long that it really just makes more sense to give everyone small doses.” She suggests children below 1 year of age, 400 IU per day; in individuals older than 70 years of age, 800 IU per day; and all of the rest, all of us, 600 IU of vitamin D every day. And these doses are much lower than previously recommended 2000 IU per day.
In the opposite corner, however, Mark Cooper, MD, from University Hospital, Birmingham, United Kingdom, argued that it is really only necessary to supplement specific, at-risk groups of people.
It is also hard to get enough vitamin D from cod-liver oil, salmon and mackerel from the ocean, as most of this fish is now bred in farms, and farm-bred fish do not have a lot of vitamin D.
And if you are worried about calcium absorption – in conclusion Dr. Cooper stated:
“Those populations at risk of rickets or hypocalcemia need vitamin D. Pregnancy is a situation where, clearly, you want to make sure levels are adequate” — although he acknowledged there has recently been debate on this issue — “and having vitamin D in the treatment of osteoporosis is mandatory, because you don’t want to risk someone having even a small deficiency. But for the rest of the population, what does a little bit of suboptimal absorption of calcium matter? Who cares?
“You can get on-the-spot tests for vitamin D now. And we are doing loads of vitamin-D assays. We are making everybody anxious. We [endocrinologists] ourselves are anxious. We shouldn’t worry everybody, we should have good, balanced nutrition, but the majority of people who are otherwise healthy and asymptomatic shouldn’t go around taking supplements.”
I do like the idea of to spending 30min in the sun, outside, fresh air, nature, relax, read a book, play a sport – too many benefits to ignore such a wonderful advise in the summer. If in the risk group or in the winter months, taking supplements with lower doses may be a good idea. Even dermatologists in Australia now say that 15 to 30 minutes per day in the sun “is allowed because it gives benefits”, but Northern Hemisphere winters are not strong enough to produce adequate levels of vitamin D, regardless of how long is spent in the sun.
To your health,