What can you do about Vitamin D deficiency?

 

Vitamin D is an easy vitamin to be deficient in. We’re coming into spring but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop supplementing with Vit. D.

Vit D is more like a hormone than a vitamin. It’s helps with so many functions in the body including strong bones and muscles, which you probably already know, and it boosts your immune system and helps with cardiovascular health.

From USANA Health Sciences:

“Vitamin D has a been estimated to regulate somewhere between 200-300 genes and likely why vitamin D has been linked to so many health outcomes.”

Can you get all the vitamin D you need from eating a healthy lunch in the sunlight? Not really and here’s why. Vitamin D does not show up in large amounts in food. Some foods that are high in it are fatty fish, just make sure that fish is wild and not farmed, egg yolks, yes eat the whole egg it WILL NOT increase your cholesterol, and orange juice, which I recommend you NEVER drink as it’s damp and cold and will just boost your blood sugar levels. Eat the whole orange as the majority of the nutrients are found In the pith. That’s the white stuff most people peel off and throw away.

So what about hanging out in the sun? Well, that’s tricky because too much can damage the skin. Also, the amount you can absorb depends on the time of year, time of day, where you live and the color of your skin.

 [tweetthis]Vitamin D from the sun. The amount you can absorb depends on the time of year, time of day, and more. [/tweetthis]

Let’s break down the factors.

First, the time of year. In fall and winter, the sun is at such an angle to the earth that it lessens the amount of UVB rays. That makes you absorb less. At midday during the summer months, when your shadow is shortest, you’ll be getting more rays than other parts of the day and year.

Second, where do you live? The further you are from the equator the less sunlight your body has to convert to vitamin D. It’s all about the angle of the earth to the sun.

 

Insufficient Vitamin D

Ok, you know vitamin D is important for your bones, muscles, cardiovascular system and your immune system, but many in the US are not getting enough. It’s been shown that only about 1/3 of the US population is getting adequate amounts of the vitamin. It’s one of the nutrients that you don’t know you’re lacking until it’s super low.

I always have patients check their vitamin D levels on their labs. Once, I had a patient whose value was 8! Can you believe that? The optimal levels that I look for are between 50-80. And the crazy thing was, she had no direct symptoms from low vitamin D levels. She came to me with many issues that indicated an overall picture of poor health. So her nutrient levels were just 1 factor that was contributing to her overall health. Severe, long term vitamin D deficiency is most directly related to rickets, but mild deficiencies can also be associated with certain cancers, Type 1 diabetes, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle pain and weakness, high blood pressure and depression.

I actually had a patient come to me for anxiety and depression. She wanted to try natural ways before going on pharmaceuticals. When I checked her vitamin levels, vitamin D was low. Once we got her levels in a more optimal range and made some other lifestyle changes, her symptoms reduced and eventually went away altogether.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a practitioner who can work with you, looking at your labs from a functional standpoint and guide you in the process.

 

From USANA Health Sciences:

“Deficiencies of vitamin D are common. It is currently estimated that more than 1 billion people worldwide and 30-to-40% of the population between 15 and 49 years of age in the United States suffer from vitamin D deficiency. Because relatively small amounts of vitamin D are obtained through the diet and so many lifestyle factors reduce endogenous vitamin D synthesis, supplementation becomes an important avenue for achieving and maintaining optimal vitamin D status.”

I have to be honest, it’s the first supplement I suggest after their Essentials. I started my 13-year old son on the supplement last year. I checked in with his pediatrician who agreed it was a good idea, especially since he doesn’t drink milk.

 

Here are the keys to remember:

  1. Low vitamin D can affect your mood.
  2. The darker your skin, the less absorption of vitamin D from the sun.
  3. As you age, your skin loses its ability to absorb vitamin D and your kidneys become less effective at converting the vitamin.
  4. Excessive forehead sweating is a common sign of low vitamin D.
  5. Achy bones and joints can be lack of adequate vitamin D.
  6. If you’re overweight, you’ll need more vitamin D as it’s fat-soluble. So that means the more fat you have, the more vitamin D you need to collect and store it properly.
  7. If you have any gut issues, it could cause you to absorb less vitamin D.

 

How much to take and is it toxic?

I usually suggest about 2,500 IU per day, especially in the winter in the northern parts of the US. But this is to maintain optimal levels. If you are low, you’ll need to work with your doctor to get your levels up to between 50-80. You would have to take massive amounts, daily, for over a year to get near toxic levels. “Research also suggests that vitamin D toxicity is very unlikely at dietary intake levels below 1,000 mcg (40,000 IU) per day in healthy adults.” (USANA Health Sciences) And always check in with your doctor for possible interactions with any prescriptions you are taking.

I suggest making vitamin D something you have checked annually on your blood work.

 

As always, you can contact me at HealthCoachDonna.com and I would be happy to help you with your supplements.

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