We need sunshine, not just for our mood, but for many things that happen in our bodies. When you understand how important vitamin D is to your health and the role it plays in your life, you appreciate the sun even more.
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble prohormones and many people don’t realize this. Its major function is to promote the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the food we eat in our intestinal tract. It also helps with the re-absorption of calcium in the kidneys.
The best way to get your vitamin D is to spend 15 minutes a day in the sun. Early morning or late afternoon is the best. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time and depending where they live it can be too hot or cold.
Research shows the importance of vitamin D and the protection from cancer. The vitamin D hormone has been found to induce death of cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. Research also shows that by raising the amount of vitamin D in the blood appears to help some people — at least those deficient in the vitamin — reduce their risk of heart disease by about 30%. The findings, though preliminary, support further investigation of the interplay between vitamin D and heart health. It is important to note that dark- skinned individuals and the elderly also produce less vitamin D, and many folks don’t get enough of the nutrient from dietary sources like fatty fish.
It is amazing when people check their vitamin D levels they find that they are very low. Even in Southern California where you would think they get plenty of sun, people have vitamin D deficiencies, because so many people use sunscreen. But those who live at northern latitudes, follow a strict vegetarian diet, have a milk allergy, suffer from obesity or have a darker skin pigment are usually at a higher risk of having a vitamin D deficiency. Infants who are solely breastfed have also been found to have a deficiency because breast milk contains a small amount of vitamin D.
So how do you know you have a deficiency? In most cases, a vitamin D deficiency is not easy to recognize. Muscle weakness, fatigue, muscle spasms and bone pain are common symptoms but in more severe cases, the deficiency can lead to rickets — is a disorder that can cause impaired growth in addition to dental and skeletal deformities. Your family physician can do a simple blood test if you are worried that you or your family might be at risk. Also there is a coloration between breast cancer and vitamin D deficiencies. A good friend of mine who is a M.D. works with a lot of breast cancer patients.
A 2006 study by researchers at the University of California at San Diego, involving more than 120,000 women, showed that those women with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had a 50 percent reduced risk of breast cancer. Their study was published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.
Vitamin D is very important when it comes to your appetite. If you find you are hungry all the time, check your vitamin D. People with low Vitamin D tend to be hungry all the time. If this sounds like you get your levels checked.
Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:
You don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This is likely if you follow a strict vegetarian diet, because most of the natural sources are animal- based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.
Your exposure to sunlight is limited. Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you are homebound, live in northern latitudes, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.
You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. As people age their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency. (I would note that bodybuilders who do tons of protein and do not use enzymes to metabolize and break protein down. I will see this at a younger age.)
Your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Certain medical problems, includingCrohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.
You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.
You can find Vitamin D in many places, but not all Vitamin D is the same. It is important to find a source that your body can use and has a delivery system that bypasses digestion or enhances the ioavailability in some way. Nano is the best I have found. I had a person that had low vitamin D. My normal protocol was 20K IU’s for 3 months of a good D3K2 and then Follow up with testing a few months later to see where your numbers are coming in. Then I moved to a nano form and did only 4K IU with K2 and got to the higher levels in 2 months.
Testing in 2-3 months to make sure you are between 90-100 is where you want to be. Then you can cut back.
Michelle LeSueur BeP, CNC, CSN, CNS, CPT