Vitamin D is apart of the fat-soluble vitamin family. This means that along with vitamin A, K, and E the body is able to store these vitamins in amounts needed for good health. Having said this, we still need to achieve adequate amounts through the diet.
Vitamin D is different in that it is not found in great amounts in foods, and the best source is from sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets (bow legs) in children and osteomalacia (soft bones) in adults. Those at risk of vitamin D deficiency include athletes who train/compete indoors, people with dark skin, the elderly (being indoors the majority of the day), and those who apply SPF sunscreen constantly or purchase make-up with SPF.
The Adequate Intake (AI) of vitamin D in men and women aged 19-50 is 5 micrograms (ug) per day. As we age our AI increases. For men and women aged 50-70 = 10ug, >70 = 15 ug.
Excessive exposure to sunlight may be the primary risk factor in developing skin cancer however, it poses no risk of toxicity through overproduction of vitamin D. Dietary ingestion of large amounts of vitamin D may cause toxic reactions. Symptoms of toxicity include hypercalcemia. Doeses of 10,000 IU (250 ug) per day for several months have resulted in hypercalcemia and associated calcification of soft tissues such as kidney, heart, lungs, and blood vessels, as well as hypertension, anorexia (loss of appetite), nausea, weakness, renal dysfunction (kidney).
Having said this, the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia has found that toxicity levels in human studies are inconclusive. An upper level of intake has been set at 80ug per day.
If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, seek the advice and guideance of an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can help you to achieve adequate amounts of vitamin D to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
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