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Originally published July 8 2010

Official recommended intake for vitamin D is too low

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Official government recommendations on vitamin D intake are far too low for optimal health, the director of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center has warned.

"The current dietary guideline, approximately 400 IU/day, was based on the amount of vitamin D in a spoonful of cod liver oil, which prevented rickets," William B. Grant said.

Scientists initially assumed that vitamin D's primary role in the body was in producing strong bones and teeth. Newer research, however, shows that at higher levels, vitamin D helps prevent and even treat chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes; bacterial and viral infections; and autoimmune diseases including asthma, Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and possibly rheumatoid arthritis.

The body naturally produces vitamin D upon exposure to UVB radiation from sunlight.

"With whole-body exposure to the sun, one can make at least 10,000 IU/day in a short time," Grant said. "Adverse effects such as hypercalcemia have been found in general only for 20,000-40,000 IU/day for very long periods."

Grant warned that in people with certain health conditions (such as certain cancers or hormonal conditions), high levels of vitamin D even from sunlight can be harmful. For others, Grant recommends a daily vitamin D intake of 2,000 IU per day for people with light skin, 3,000 IU per day for those with very dark skin and 6,000 IU per day for pregnant or lactating women.

Current government recommendations for pregnant women are only 200 IU per day.

Sunlight remains the best way to get vitamin D, but only with sufficient exposure.

"Due to current lifestyles in the United States, most people do not spend sufficient time in the sun to produce the higher serum D levels associated with optimal health," Grant warned.

For optimal vitamin D production from sunlight, Grant recommends exposing "as much of the body as possible without sunscreen near solar noon, the time when one's shadow is shorter than one's height, for 10-30 minutes depending on skin pigmentation, being careful not to turn pink or red or burn."

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