There are approximately 1 billion people worldwide who have a Vitamin D deficiency. Many Canadians are not getting enough sun exposure because of the type of climate they live in, concerns of skin exposure and lifestyle. Risk factors for vitamin D deficiency include living in northern latitudes, not getting at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight exposure, being dark-skinned, elderly, overweight or obese. While rickets and osteomalacia are known diseases of severe vitamin D deficiency, more subtle symptoms include a burning sensation in mouth or throat, vision problems, insomnia, diarrhea, or a loss of appetite. Too much vitamin D, although rare, can cause a buildup of calcium, which can cause poor appetite, nausea and vomiting. Weakness, frequent urination and kidney problems can also occur in vitamin D toxicity.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) establishes values for Vitamin D, which was established in 1997; this was used to help prevent osteomalacia and rickets. Currently, the DRIs for vitamin D are based on the assumption of minimal sun exposure, so this takes into account certain sub-populations, for example those with darker skins or those who live in northern latitudes. The most current information from Health Canada (2012) is in pediatric patients aged 0-12 months, 400 IU (or 10 mcg); children that are aged 1-8, 600IU (or 15 mcg); children and adults aged 9-70, 600IU (15 mcg); adults over 70 years, 800IU (or 20 mcg) and for women who are pregnant or lactating is 600 IU (or 15 mcg). Health Canada’s existing recommendations on calcium and vitamin D for all Canadians over the age of two, including pregnant and lactating women, should consume 500mL (or 2 cups) of milk or fortified soy beverages every day.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to come in and ask one of our pharmacists or friendly pharmacy staff