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Posts Tagged ‘D2’

Vitamin D Deficiency. By Our January Student Pharmacist, Brayson Ramirez.

During the winter months here in Ohio it can be hard to get enough sunlight. The days are short and the weather is usually too terrible to wear shorts or a t-shirt. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, adequate sun exposure is considered direct sunlight to the arms and legs for five to thirty minutes between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week. The weather can be unpredictable, but I know I don’t go outside anywhere close to that much during the winter, even with only my face exposed.

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There are three significant factors that contribute to Vitamin D absorption, or lack thereof:

  • The first factor is skin tone; the darker the skin the harder it is to absorb the UVB rays needed to make Vitamin D.
  • The second factor is weight; the heavier a person is, the less likely they are to produce an adequate amount of Vitamin D.
  • Lastly, age is a contributing factor. Once a person reaches 50 years old, the body doesn’t produce Vitamin D at the same rate.

Rickets, osteoporosis, a weakened immune system, and general fatigue can be caused by a lack of Vitamin D. Each one of these complications is particularly harmful to older adults. Unfortunately, women are prone to bone density issues, such as osteoporosis, so they greatly benefit from maintaining a good level of Vitamin D.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at any given time 10% of the population is Vitamin D deficient. In the study where they determined this number, the people they tested were from the northern areas during the summer and the southern areas during the winter. With that selection process in mind, the number of Ohioans during the winter who are Vitamin D deficient is most likely much greater than 10%.

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Taking Vitamin D without an official Vitamin D deficiency diagnosis is okay and recommended by many doctors, but you must make sure to not over do it. If you wanted to take Vitamin D if you know you are not getting enough sunlight, the recommended dosing for an adult is 800 to 1000 units once a day. Doctors commonly prescribe more, but they can run blood tests to have a better idea of how much Vitamin D their patients need.

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When you go to the pharmacy to get your Vitamin D supplement you will most likely come across many choices with many strengths. There will also probably be a Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and a Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Both types are very similar in structure and are safe to use. They are not quite equivalent though. Vitamin D2 originates from plants while Vitamin D3 is what animals, including humans, produce from the sun. Both types are eventually converted by the liver to the same chemical that is used in the body, but some studies show Vitamin D3 produces more of that useable chemical per dose and helps to maintain a higher level in the body. If you are currently using D2 and it is working well for you then there would be no reason at all to change it. When it comes to which one to use, I would pick D3, but if I went to the store and there was a significant cost difference or no D3 options I would go ahead and use D2.

Hopefully, this information can help you understand Vitamin D and why many people are trying to replace it through supplementation.