I recently had my lab work done (back in August to be exact), thinking that surly my vitamin D level was adequate since I typically spend at least 30 minutes outside during the summer months. But to my surprise, it was low!
I always supplement during the colder months, but not during the summer months since I spend more time outside. This just goes to show that the majority of Americans (and let’s face it, probably the majority of the world unless they live near the equator) are deficient.
It is actually very significant in the prevention of many chronic illnesses. The body manufactures vitamin D from cholesterol through a process triggered by the action of sunlight (specifically the UVB rays) on our skin, which makes sense as to why people in colder climates or during the winter months, in general, are deficient.
There are few natural food sources of vitamin D, so supplementation is necessary for many of us. Vitamin D deficiency can impair our immune system which can lead to developing not only the common cold, but more serious contagious illnesses as well. Vitamin D ensures that the body absorbs and retains adequate amounts of calcium and phosphorus which are critical for bone health and can help reduce the risk of falls in older people.
Adequate intake of vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. We also know that adequate intake of vitamin D helps regulate thyroid and parathyroid function and improves mental health as well.
Getting about 20 minutes of direct (unprotected) sunlight daily, which can be a challenge during certain times of the year or colder climates.
There are a few good natural food sources of vitamin D such as swordfish, salmon, tuna, cod liver oil, sardines, beef liver, egg yolk, swiss cheese, mushrooms, and fortified foods like dairy products and orange juice.
The other way is through supplementation. Usually, about 800-2000 IU daily of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is adequate for adults, but always consult your primary care provider before starting any supplementation, and have your vitamin D level checked 1-2 times per year (or every 3-4 months if levels are abnormal).
Because Vitamin D is fat soluble, it is possible to get too much which has a negative impact on our health. Ideally, we want our level to be around 50 ng/mL, with a healthy range between 35-60 ng/mL.
Who knew that something so simple could have such an impact on our health?
If you do not already have your vitamin D level checked regularly, be sure to ask your Primary Care Provider to check it and optimize your body’s vitamin D level.