One of the hottest topics in health news today is vitamin D- the “Sunshine Vitamin”. This is a really an interesting vitamin because as well as getting vitamin D in our diets, we also derive 40-50% of our circulating vitamin D by the effects of exposure to sunlight. The sun converts provitamin D stored in our skin to the type we need circulating in our blood. From late summer to mid- winter vitamin D levels decline due to the lack of exposure to sunlight.
So why do we need vitamin D? It is needed for bone mineralization and the bone in our bodies is constantly being rebuilt. Vitamin D will therefore help prevent fractures. There are reports that vitamin D deficiency and diseases such as cancers (colon, prostate, breast), auto immune diseases ( ie multiple sclerosis), cardiac disease and diabetes and of course osteoporosis. But links to all of these are not clear and more research needs to be done.
Depending on your age there are different recommendations on the amount of vitamin D that you need to have in your diet either by supplements or the foods you eat. The amounts vary depending on who you listen to. The Canadian cancer society, Osteoporosis Canada and Health Canada all have varying recommendations and I am not going to go into details about those recommendations, but apparently new dietary recommendations are coming this year. It is best to consult your own physician for what is best for you.
From a dental point of view, it seems that vitamin D promotes healthy gums and the bone that supports the teeth. Studies also show that Calcium is also needed for healthy gums as people meeting the recommended Calcium intake along with vitamin D had healthier gums and less chance of losing teeth. Not surprisingly then a study of 12000 people found that those consuming more dairy products (where you find Vitamin D and Calcium both) had healthier gums! It seems that for both calcium and vitamin D supplements were needed for people to attain the recommended levels of Calcium and vitamin D because few foods have significant quantities of these important elements. To achieve the blood levels of Vitamin D thought to promote optimal gingival (gum) health an adult would need 1000IU of Vitamin D per day.
Can you have too much vitamin D? One journal article suggests you should not consume over 2000 IU per day. My advice….speak with your own physician. He or she knows your health and can give you recommendations that are in line with your health.