I was going through the VeganMoFo folder on Google Reader, and came across a post from a fellow vegan who mentioned having his or her vitamin D level tested and being advised by their doc to take 5000 IU vitamin D per day. This posed a dilemma, because of the recent report that suggests we may not need as much vitamin D with supplementation as previously recommended.
I went to reply, and promptly my browser crashed, and for some reason, it wouldn’t show me the page in my history, and I didn’t note the name of the blog. (Too many posts to do the “show all” thing and find it, and google was no help). So in case anyone reading just wrote a post on this in the last few days, these are my thoughts!
Last year, I wrote quite a bit about Vitamin D deficiency, because I had it. How did I figure it out? Well, first off, my regular non-Vitamin D labs suggested that my bones were being broken down to provide calcium. You can’t absorb calcium even if your diet it is abundant in it without Vitamin D. So, at the behest of my nutritionist, I had my Vitamin D level tested. It was low. Very, very, very low. Waaaaaaaaay lower than what the recent research suggests should be an acceptable level. So at my doctor’s suggestion, I supplemented with 1600IU of D2 for a month. Then my level got even worse, and became undetectable. I had to do the 50,000 IU for 8 weeks thing, which brought my level up to the normal range.
Is that usual? Is it caused by veganism?
First off, I’m a pale skinned girl who lives in the Northeast US and has avoided the sun like the plague, for fear of skin cancer. (People living in the Northeast US who don’t avoid the sun like the plague do not get enough sun exposure during the winter months to make Vitamin D- see my earlier post for sources and details). Vitamin D only occurs naturally in some fatty-fish, so most people who get it through diet, really get it when it’s added to foods, like milk, orange juice and cereal. Well, as a vegan, milk is out (and gross), I don’t drink much OJ (and would avoid D3 anyways) and I favor oatmeal from the bulk bin to fortified cereals, so I wasn’t getting much in my diet. I had at that point been taking a multivitamin on a regular basis due to a B-12 deficiency (hey, some of us are just lucky like that), but it wasn’t enough to keep my levels at a minimum. I do use Almond or Soy milks, which also have Vitamin D added, but I don’t “drink” them per se; I just use them in cooking, so I don’t get enough that way, either.
So it’s not caused by veganism per se; but not eating a lot of processed food (or only eating the kinds of processed foods that have no nutritional value) doesn’t help. According to the NYT article, it’s not usual, either.
For you? Well, how low is low? According to that NYT article, a level of 20ng is perfectly fine, though the recommendation had previously been for 30ng. So if you’re between there, high dose supplementation may not be necessary.
If you’re like me- well, if you want to have some bone left in your old age, then supplementation is probably necessary. Everybody is different. If you’ve had it tested and are facing a dilemma, go back and ask your heath care provider if the new recommendations would change his or her assessment of what you should do.