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Study Shows Caffeine Can Cause Vitamin D Deficiency | Well+Good

While caffeine-filled beverages like lattes, flat whites, and cold brew offer plenty of potent health benefits, medical researchers in China and Brazil have found one more reason why it’s nevertheless important to consume caffeine in moderation. When consumed in excess, caffeine can impact your body’s ability to absorb vitamin D.

The new cross-sectional study published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research looked at data collected from a 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on vitamin D levels and dietary caffeine intake from 13,134 individuals (aged 30-47 years old). Their findings show that higher intake of caffeine was associated with poor vitamin D absorption in what they call “a representative sample of the American population” after adjusting for various health-related variables.

But before you consider tossing your morning brew, it’s important to mention that the study’s authors clearly state that further investigation is required to determine whether caffeine actually causes vitamin D deficiency. Additionally, it’s unclear what they determine is a healthy versus an unhealthy amount of caffeine intake; after all, everyone’s body responds drastically differently to caffeine. According to integrative medicine doctor Erica Schwartz, MD, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day—about four or five eight-ounce cups of coffee or two energy drinks—is considered safe for most adults. But again, keep in mind that caffeine tolerance varies greatly between individuals.

While monitoring your caffeine intake is vital, it’s equally important that this study’s findings inspire you to take a look at how much vitamin D you should be getting, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency to keep an eye on, and the best foods that will help you up your vitamin D intake.

Can we get all the vitamin D we need from the sun?

In the U.S., the recommended dietary allowance (R.D.A.) of vitamin D is 600 IU for everyone, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, between the ages of one and 70. People over the age of 70 are typically recommended to get 800 IU to account for decreased vitamin D absorption and increased risk of bone fracture.

Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it can be made in the body through exposure to sunlight. “In general, twenty to thirty minutes of mid-day exposure to sunlight on a large portion of exposed skin can produce about 10,000 to 20,000 IU,” says Michael T. Murray, ND, author and chief scientific advisor at iHerb. “In light skinned individuals exposing much of their body to direct sunlight might produce as much as 10,000 IU in 10 minutes; in darker skinned people it may take considerably longer sun exposure to produce the same amount.”

But skin color isn’t the only barrier that can limit the efficacy of sun exposure to get your body to produce vitamin D. “Although your skin manufactures vitamin D when exposed to the sun, the process isn’t always efficient,” says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD and advisor to Performance Kitchen. “For instance, if you’re wearing sun protection or it’s cloudy, the activation process is less effective. Plus, the risks of sun exposure, like skin cancer, outweigh the benefits of vitamin D activation, so it’s better to focus on food and supplements than spending time in the sun without adequate sun protection.”

What are the best vitamin D foods?

Unfortunately, vitamin D isn’t naturally found in many foods. “Foods that contain higher amounts of vitamin D include mushrooms, fatty fish, fish liver oil, and eggs, but many foods and beverages like milk, orange juice, and cereal are fortified with vitamin D,” says Valerie…

Read More:Study Shows Caffeine Can Cause Vitamin D Deficiency | Well+Good

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