The chorus of voices calling for a fresh look at vitamin D is likely to reach a crescendo this spring, when a committee appointed by federal regulators is expected to issue an opinion on whether daily allowances should be increased.
If the current body of evidence is to be believed, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
“Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in conditions including cancer, coronary artery disease and even chronic pain,” said Dr. Soram Khalsa, an integrative medicine practitioner at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles and author of a book on vitamin D.
Currently, the RDA of vitamin D for adults is 400 international units. Khalsa and like-minded colleagues would like to see every adult taking 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day as part of their wellness regimen. Supporters point to a growing body of research suggesting that higher vitamin D consumption has preventative effects on a number of health conditions and diseases, including osteoporosis, certain cancers and diabetes.
The supplement debate is important because vitamin D is naturally elusive, yet vital to human health. Sunlight is one source, though geography and skin cancer worries can make it difficult to synthesize enough on a daily basis.
What's more, vitamin D is naturally present in very few foods. As a result, many processed products like bread and cereal require fortification. Supplements continue to be the most reliable method of intake.
If higher allowances are approved, retailers can expect manufacturers to respond by boosting the amount of vitamin D they put in their products. The anticipation is such that some mushroom growers are already experimenting with vitamin D-enhanced fungi that have been exposed to sunlight.