What is Vitamin D?
The recommendations for adults up to age 69 rose to 600 IU/day, and to 800 IU/day
for adults starting at age 70. Older adults need more vitamin D because as they age,
their skin does not produce vitamin D efficiently, they spend less time outdoors, and
they tend to not get enough vitamin D.

The committee did not consider the emerging research on any other conditions. Patsy
Brannon, PhD, RD, a Cornell University professor of nutritional sciences and a member
of the IOM committee, spoke about that at the American Dietetic Association's 2011
annual meeting in San Diego. "The committee of 14 scientists reviewed more than
1,000 publications and determined that the evidence was inconsistent and inconclusive
to include any other health benefits in the new recommendations," Brannon said. "The
committee is not dismissing the role of vitamin D in other areas, we need more clinical
trials, consistent evidence, and evidence that supports causality."

Best Sources of Vitamin D

The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, but it is hard to quantify how much
vitamin D you get from time in the sun and the risk of skin cancer may outweigh the
benefits. Food first, says Baylor College of Medicine dietitian Keli Hawthorne.
"Supplements can fill in the gaps but it is always better to try to meet your nutritional
needs with foods that contain fiber, phytonutrients, and so much more," Hawthorne

Unless you enjoy a diet that includes fatty fish or fish liver oils, it may be hard to get
enough vitamin D naturally without eating fortified foods or taking a supplement. "The
major dietary source of vitamin D comes from fortified diary, along with some yogurts
and cereals," Hawthorne says. Mushrooms, eggs, cheese, and beef liver contain small

Reading Food Labels

Daily Values (DV) are on nutrition fact panels to help consumers compare nutrients in
products and to choose a healthy diet. The DV for vitamin D is currently set at 400 IU
can make from the sun. Despite the ability to get vitamin D from food and the sun, an
estimated 40%-75% of people are deficient.

Why? Vitamin D is not abundant in our food choices and the sun is not a reliable source
for everyone.

Many factors affect the skin's ability to produce vitamin D, including season, time of
day, latitude, air pollution, cloud cover, sunscreen, body parts exposed, color, and age.
Dermatologists recommend using sunscreen and getting vitamin D from food and
supplements rather than risk the harmful rays of the sun.

Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is naturally present in few foods. Since 1930, virtually all cow's milk in the
U.S. has been voluntarily fortified with 100 IU of vitamin D per cup. Food
manufacturers are fortifying other foods, such as yogurt, cereal, and orange juice, to
help consumers fill the nutrient gap in their diets.

Ideally, vitamin D is added to a food or beverage that contains calcium. Vitamin D is
needed for maximum absorption of calcium from the intestine, helping to build strong
bones and teeth.

Together with calcium, vitamin D can help prevent osteoporosis in older adults.
Without enough vitamin D, bones can become brittle and prone to fracture. It is
estimated that more than 40 million adults in the U.S. have or are at risk of developing

"Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low bone mass and osteoporosis, which is
estimated to affect 10 million adults over the age of 50 in the U.S.," says Atlanta
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that
promises great health benefits, yet most
adults fall short.

Vitamin D is a star nutrient these days, as
research links it to numerous health
benefits. Studies suggest vitamin D may
go beyond its well-established role in bone
health and reduce the risk of cancer, heart
disease, stroke, diabetes, autoimmune
diseases, and more.

What makes vitamin D unique is that it is
a vitamin and also a hormone your body
Quiz #468 Results
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Answer to Quiz #468- March 8, 2015
1. What are these children doing?
2. Where are they located?
3. What are they trying to avoid?
1.  Soaking in ultraviolet radiation.
2.  Northern Russia
3.  A Vitamin D deficiency, which causes rickets.
Ultraviolet Sunbathers
Comments from Our Readers
Rickets is one problem from lack of sunlight.  Also being mistaken for a pasty
white vampire and getting staked through the heart.
Nelsen Spickard
N. B. Even living in Southern California, I have fluorescent lights in my kitchen
that have the spectrum of sunlight. Haven't thought that they might also chase
away vampires. Since I haven't seen any around, they must work pretty well!
- Q. Gen.
LOL - I too cannot imagine a world without sunshine. I love the sun - it enlivens,
uplifts, motivates and warms. So, you can imagine that I don't do so well during the
winter months as I am sorely missing my trusty fix of Vitamin D.

Unlike you, I do not use fluorescent lights to ward off vampires, although, I always
have a fresh supply of the stinking rose.  It too seems to do the trick. LOL  :-)
Cindy Costigan
I had to try lots of different combinations of search terms to avoid getting models
in underwear or wearing sunglasses, and the like :) Finally "cold war photos
boys indoors russia" worked.
Roger Lipsett
The main clue is the portrait of Lenin on the wall. Years ago, I read Hedrick Smith's
book "The Russians," which included a description of schoolchildren in
Siberia receiving light treatments -- Smith described the children being bathed in
light wearing their protective goggles and undies.
Liz Haigney Lynch
On looking at this picture i noticed Lenin's picture on the wall. This indicated that
the location was in Russia. I suspected from their standing in front of a light with
dark glasses that it probably had something to do with vitamin D and light.
Googled under images "Russian children" which brought up suggestions which
included "Russian chidren absorbing their daily vitamin D". Clicked on that
suggestion which brought up similar pictures. Lack of vitamin D can cause many
different health problems.
Tony Knapp
By the way, that photo of Lenin was a huge clue to solving this quiz. Don't the
children look somewhat like little creatures from outer space?

Fearless Leader, aren't you glad that we live in an area where there is more natural
sunlight so we can get our needed Vitamin D? (or Vitamin D in other forms?)  
Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
The Fabulous Fletchers
I googled Children exposed to ultraviolet light and turned up a similar picture from
the National Geographic Collection.  In the picture referenced below, the children
were from Lovozero, Russia and were getting a dose of "sunlight" to supply them
with vitamin D so that their bones would grow strong during the dark months of
Margaret Lanoue
These pics look like it was something done at school or something, that during
winters they had their "indoors sun bath" once a week or so. It's actually refreshing
to see that it was normal to be in underwear. Can't imagine what people in the US
think of the practice... authorities would be referred to Children Services faster than
what it would take to turn the box lamps on.
Ida Sanchez
I grew up on the desert with no shortage of light.  There were times that clouds
were really nice as you can get too much of a good thing.  

I have read that Iceland has a real problem with alcoholism and depression.  The
northern most sections of Iceland are just below the Arctic Circle.    

Looking forward to the next quiz.
Edna Cardinal
There truly is such a thing as 'cabin fever!' People can go a bit nuts. Some folks
have the full spectrum lights as you describe. We ice skate and go for walks.
You've got to get out and get some sun on your skin!
Margaret Lanoue

Congratulations to Our Winners!

Gary Elder                Barbara H. Lang
Owen Blevins                Ellen Zyroff
Ida Sanchez                Angel Esparza
Nelsen Spickard                Tynan Peterson
Roger Lipsett                Liz Haigney Lynch
Arthur Hartwell                Tony Knapp
Margaret Paxton                Rebecca Bare
Betty Chambers                Margaret Lanoue
Ellen Welker                Cindy Costigan
Edna Cardinal                Joshua Kreitzer

Grace Hertz and Mary Turner
The Fabulous Fletchers!
If you enjoy our quizzes, don't forget to order our books!
-- Start Quantcast tag -->
If you have a picture you'd like us to feature a picture in a future quiz, please
email it to us at If we use it, you will receive a free analysis of
your picture. You will also receive a free
Forensic Genealogy CD or a 10%
discount towards the purchase of the
Forensic Genealogy book.
Ultraviolet Bath, Russia
Photograph by Joe McNally

This Month in Photo of the Day: Images from the National Geographic Archive

Make-believe summer lasts for a minute or two as kindergarten children in sunless
Lovozero bathe in ultraviolet light. Brief exposure to UC radiation provides the children
with vitamin D, normally supplied by sunlight. The "sunshine vitamin" strengthens
young bones.

How Ida Solved the Puzzle

This is one of the weirdest quizzes and I almost called quits. I ran over all
types of variations for photo therapy, light therapy, fluorescent, green,
etc. The guy in the picture looked like Lenin, but  I wasn't sure.
In the end, I have not found a reliable source of the picture and its origins.
The closest I can come up with is a NatGeo from 1977.

( in Murmansk. For
this specific pic, even someone on Reddit said that Lenin's pic was
photoshopped later and it did not appear in the original.

Anyway, every time I tried looking for light therapy in children, I was
flooded with pics of blue light on newborns, a routine procedure done for
jaundice at birth, so, after reading a wikipedia article on Light Therapy, I
got finally hit with a Eureka moment and googled "light therapy in children
-jaundice" and similar pictures started to appear. One of them with the
same oriental rug, stated that it was in Russia in the communist era.
Adding "russian" to the search led me to find the image on reddit, but not
much info other than what others said. Nat Geo was the one providing
little more info on it, still not much.

Still trying to understand the 3rd question.....

Ida Sanchez
Children circle around an ultraviolet lamp to get a dose of vitamin D in Murmansk,
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, August 1977.

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

The "sunshine" vitamin is a hot topic. You may have recently found out
that you are deficient or know someone who is. It's shocking for most
people when they have never had a problem before and believe nothing
has changed to make it a problem now. The truth is that a lot has
changed, and vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is now a global
public-health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

The most well-known consequences to not having enough vitamin D are
rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. These are far from the only
problems associated with a vitamin D deficiency. The consequences are
numerous and include skeletal diseases, metabolic disorders, cancer,
cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, infections, cognitive
disorders, and/or mortality. The majority of our knowledge about vitamin
D has been discovered over the past 15 years, and with the growing issue
of deficiencies, more health connections with vitamin D levels are being
made. Correcting vitamin D deficiency is not as simple as taking a pill or
getting more sun.  


There are currently two sets of guidelines for vitamin D intake. Typically,
vitamin guidelines are established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in
the form of recommended dietary allowances (RDA) or adequate intakes
(AI). The RDA is the average daily intake sufficient to meet the nutrient
requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy individuals. The Endocrine
Society put together a task force to review the research and come up with
a set of guidelines for "people who are at risk for deficiency."

By the turn of the 20th century, 90% of the children living in New York,
Boston, and Leyden in the Netherlands were afflicted with rickets, a
bone-deforming disease. The first observation of this disease was in the
mid-1600s by Whistler and Glissen, who reported that children living in
industrialized cities in Great Britain had short stature and deformities of
the skeleton, especially of the lower legs. It wasn't until 1889 that the
discovery that "sunbathing" was important for preventing rickets came


Since then, many other health benefits of vitamin D have been discovered.
These include the following:

Skeletal disease: Anyone taking calcium knows that you need to take it
with vitamin D. It's needed because vitamin D promotes calcium
absorption in the gut and maintains blood calcium levels to enable normal
mineralization of bone and prevent abnormally low blood calcium levels
that can then lead to tetany. Adequate vitamin D levels can prevent bones
from becoming thin, brittle, or malformed. It is linked with the prevention
of osteomalacia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.

Cancer: The link between the sun and cancer is typically not seen as a
positive one because of the connection with skin cancer. UV-B radiation
from the sun is said to be the most important environmental risk factor
for nonmelanoma skin cancer. Because the sun is the primary source of
vitamin D, researchers are looking to see what role it plays in skin cancer.
Some believe that enough sun exposure to keep your vitamin D levels up
while protecting your skin from damage is beneficial to skin cancer
survival. There has also been research to show the protective effect that
vitamin D has with the development of other cancers, including colon,
breast, and prostate cancer.  

Cardiovascular disease: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an
increased prevalence of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, peripheral vascular
disease, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and
stroke. The anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D may be the reason for
this. Research is being done to determine exactly how this works and

Infections: Do you tend to get more respiratory infections in the winter?
Vitamin D deficiency could be the cause. Observational studies have
shown an association between low vitamin D status and an increased risk
of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. The role of vitamin D
in reducing the risk of hospital-acquired infections, such as pneumonia,
bacteremias, urinary tract infections, and surgical site infections is also
being investigated.

Depression: The association between lack of sunlight and depressive
disorders was first noted 2,000 years ago. Vitamin D plays a role in
regulating adrenaline, noradrenaline, and dopamine production in the brain
through vitamin D receptors in the adrenal cortex, as well as protecting
against the depletion of serotonin and dopamine. This is the possible link
with vitamin D's role in depression. The research is new in this area, and
only the associations have been shown so far. Vitamin D deficiency has
been associated with an 8%-14% increase in depression. Research is also
finding a relationship with low vitamin D levels and increased risk of

Multiple sclerosis: Evidence continues to accumulate supporting the role
of vitamin D and the prevention and treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).
It begins with the vitamin D levels in pregnant women. Numerous studies
have linked the occurrence of MS with birth month. There is a high
prevalence of MS in high-latitude areas. The lack of sunlight exposure
appears to be a significant predictor, and research is ongoing in this area.

Tuberculosis: Individuals with tuberculosis (TB) have been shown to
have lower vitamin D levels than healthy people. Supplementation has
shown to improve symptoms in these individuals. Further studies are
needed to determine the cause and appropriate intervention.

Reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes: Research has shown that those
with blood vitamin D levels over 25 ng/mL had a 43% reduced risk of
developing type 2 diabetes compared with those with levels under 14

Decreasing inflammation: Many of the health benefits associated with
vitamin D may come from its role in decreasing inflammation. Research
has shown a decrease in levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of
inflammation, with increased levels of vitamin D to just below 21 ng/mL.

Reducing risk of allergies in children and adolescents: A nationwide
study of over 6,000 individuals showed that allergic sensitization was
more common in those with vitamin D levels under 15 ng/mL versus
those with levels 30 ng/mL or more.

Sleep apnea: There is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may
increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea brought on by inflammatory
rhinitis and/or tonsillar hypertrophy. More research needs to be done to
confirm this.

Decreasing dental cavities: A review of 24 controlled clinical trials
encompassing 2,827 children found a 47% reduced risk of cavities with
vitamin D supplementation.

Possibly helping with erectile dysfunction (ED): It is not clear if
increasing your serum vitamin D levels can help with ED. Many men
diagnosed with ED are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (CVD)
within a few years. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with CVD, so if you
are deficient in vitamin D, some researchers believe that treating this could
reduce your risk of ED.  


Limited exposure to the sun

You may look out your window and see the sun shining and think that
you are safe from this deficiency, but that is not always the case. Even in
sunny climates there is an increased prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
We have all heard about the dangers of skin cancer and the need for
sunscreen to protect us from this disease. This knowledge and the
preventive actions we take have significantly decreased our vitamin D
levels. Sunscreen protects so well against UV-B rays that an SPF of 30
decreases vitamin D synthesis in the skin by more than 95%. On top of
this, we tend to spend more time indoors. One study found that it took
Caucasians exposure of more than 30% of their body every day in the
summer to make the optimal amounts of vitamin D.

Darker skin

Melanin is what gives skin its color. Lighter skin has less melanin than
darker skin. Melanin is able to absorb UV-B radiation from the sun and
reduce the skin's capacity to produce vitamin D3 by 95%-99%. People
with a naturally dark skin tone have natural sun protection and require at
least three to five times longer exposures to make the same amount of
vitamin D as a person with a white skin tone. African Americans have a
population mean serum 25(OH)D level of 16 ng/mL, whereas white
Americans have a level of 26 ng/mL.


Being overweight or obese may put you at risk for a vitamin D deficiency.
A study done on 2,187 overweight and obese subjects found that those
with a BMI above 40 had 18% lower serum vitamin D levels than those
with a BMI under 40. Another study compared the vitamin D levels of
154 obese subjects to those of 148 nonobese subjects and found that the
obese subjects' vitamin D levels were 23% lower. While diet and
decreased sun exposure may have some impact on this, there appears to
be an increased need that cannot be met without a supplement. One study
tested the blood levels of vitamin D after sun exposure in both obese and
nonobese subjects. Both saw an initial rise in vitamin D levels after similar
exposures, but 24 hours later, there was 57% less vitamin D in the blood
of the obese subjects. Both groups had a similar capacity of the skin to
produce the vitamin. The difference was seen in the release of vitamin D
from the skin into the circulation. It is believed that the fat under the skin
holds onto the fat-soluble vitamin instead of releasing it, but more
research needs to be done to confirm this.


People with one of the fat malabsorption syndromes (for example,
Crohn's disease, celiac disease) and people who have had bariatric surgery
are often unable to absorb enough of the fat-soluble vitamin D.


It has been shown that as we age our body has a decreased ability to
synthesize vitamin D from exposure to the sun. There can be as much as
25% reduced production over the age of 70. While this can have an
impact, it doesn't cause as much of a deficiency as the other risk factors.

Medications and medical conditions

A wide variety of medications, including antifungal medications,
anticonvulsants, glucocorticoids, and medications to treat AIDS/HIV can
enhance the breakdown of vitamin D and lead to low levels. There is also
a loss of vitamin D for those with chronic kidney disease, primary
hyperparathyroidism, chronic granuloma-forming disorders, and some

Continue Reading about Vitimin D Definiciency and Treatment
Click on thumbnail for slide show on
Vitamin D
rheumatologist Eduardo Baetti, MD. Even
in Atlanta, where the sunshine is adequate
all year long, Baetti says many of his
patients -- especially elderly and
dark-skinned people -- have low levels of
vitamin D because the sun is not a reliable

How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?

Bone health was the single focus of the
Institute of Medicine's recommendations
on how much vitamin D and calcium
people should get.
Click on icon to take nutrition quiz.
by the FDA, which is less than the
recommended 600 IU.

Hawthorne's advice: "Do the math: When one
serving says it meets 100% DV, you still
need an additional 200 IU to satisfy your

Amount of vitamin D in sample food sources:

1 Tbsp cod liver oil: 1,360 IU
3 oz. salmon: 800 IU
8 oz. fortified milk:100 IU
8 oz. fortified orange juice: 100 IU
3 oz. irradiated mushrooms: 400 IU

How Much Is Too Much?
Click on thumbnail for Vitamin D
fact sheet.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble itamins can build up in the body and are
not as easily excreted as water-soluble vitamins. The IOM committee set a level of
4,000 IU as the ‘tolerable upper limit' or the maximum amount that is safe to consume

Vitamin D researcher and Creighton University professor Robert Heaney, MD, agrees
with the new level but would like to see it even higher.

"I am delighted the upper limit for vitamin D has been doubled to 4,000 IUs per day,
although this is a conservative level, considering the body of scientific evidence
indicating it should be 10,000 IU," Heaney tells WebMD. "However, few people need
more than 4,000 IUs, which will meet the needs of most healthy people, give physicians
confidence to recommend supplementation, and allow research at higher vitamin D

In July 2011, the Endocrine Society Practice Guidelines published recommendations for
the evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D recommending an upper limit of
10,000 IU/day.

"There is a potential to cause harm if you overdose on supplements above 4,000 IU/day
but there is no fear of overdosing from the sun because your skin acts like a regulatory
system, only allowing production of the amount of vitamin D you need," Brannon says.

Acceptable Vitamin D Blood Levels
Your health care provider can check your vitamin D blood level with a simple blood test.

Part of the confusion about whether or not you are getting enough vitamin D may be
the definition of the acceptable blood level of vitamin D, clinically measured as 25-
hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D].

Using vitamin D blood levels is the best estimate of adequacy that accounts for dietary
intake and sunshine, yet experts differ on what that level should be.

"A 25(OH)D blood level of at least 20 nanograms/ml was used by the IOM committee
to set the recommendations for vitamin D because this level showed adequacy for a
wide variety of bone health indicators" says Brannon.

The Endocrine Society Practice Guidelines, as well as many laboratories and experts
(including Baetti), recommend a minimum vitamin D blood level of 30 nanograms/ml as
an acceptable level.