How common is vitamin d deficiency and how can you beat it?
Are you getting enough sunlight? It seems like a simple enough question, but if you live in a city similar to Seattle, your answer is probably ‘no’. The sun does more than provide light and energy to our planet and its inhabitants. Sunlight provides vitamin D, and has the ability to lower blood pressure, fight depression, and support a healthy immune system.
Unfortunately, three-quarters of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, according to a 2009 study. Hypovitaminosis D occurs when the body’s vitamin D intake is inadequate. Vitamin D refers to a family of compounds in the body–vitamin d2 and vitamin d3 being the two major forms. When ultraviolet B (UVB) rays reaches the skin, 7-dehydrocholesterol, a cholesterol precursor, converts UVB into vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is then carried to your liver and kidneys and then becomes an active form of Vitamin D in the body. Unlike most vitamins, which can be obtained primarily from regular dietary needs, vitamin D is obtained primarily from sunlight.
“In the days when we could get vitamin D from the sun, 15 minutes of sunlight provided 15,000 IU of vitamin D,” states Dr. Micahel E. Platt, founder of Platt Wellness. Currently, the dynamics of our lives has reduced our ability to naturally absorb this much needed vitamin.
For people who stay indoors regularly, use one of the many toxic sunscreens on the market, wear heavier clothing year-long, or who have schedules that keep them mostly indoors, the risk for hypovitaminosis D is higher.
Dr. Scott Schreiber, chiropractic physician and certified nutrition specialist and licensed dietitian/nutritionist notes, “the increasing numbers of [vitamin d]deficiency are due in part to most people staying inside with little exposure to UVB rays. With children staying inside and adults working under fluorescent lights, vitamin D synthesis is inadequate at best. In addition, this is further compounded by sun block which repels UVB rays. Wearing SPF 8 will diminish the vitamin D production by 95 percent.”
Vitamin D comes in two forms, D3 and D2. D3 is produced in response to our skins exposure to sunlight and through foods derived from animals. D2 comes from non-animal sources such as fungi and plants.
Hypovitaminosis D has also been linked to dementia and schizophrenia. As an immunodulator, vitamin D works to prevent autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Dangers of Hypovitaminosis D
Hypovitaminosis D can lead to various health issues for all age groups. In early childhood, hypovitaminosis can lead to Rickets, a deformity in bone growth. In adults it causes Osteomalacia, a bone thinning disorder. For all groups, prolonged deficiency can cause issues such osteoporosis, light-headedness, excessive sweating, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, and muscle weakness. Research also suggests it has a role in the advancement of breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer.
For individuals suffering from depression, sunlight has regularly been recommended. Low levels of vitamin D have been found in patients who are diagnosed with depression. Sunlight makes us happy, which is why we feel our mood change when it gets cloudy. You might say that having adequate vitamin D is essential to keeping you in a good mood.
Groups Prone to Vitamin D Deficiency
Various factors can inhibit the body’s ability to produce vitamin D. Three highly susceptible groups are:
- People with darker skin—Research suggests that vitamin D intake is lower among African Americans in North America. Skin pigmentation is a natural sunscreen and darker skin leads to less vitamin D production in skin.
- People 50+—As you age, your skin’s ability to produce vitamin D decreases. Research suggests that hypovitaminosis D can lead to cognitive decline in the elderly. The kidney’s ability to convert vitamin D into the body also decreases with age, making an increase in absorption even more necessary.
- Overweight or Obese Individuals—Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning it’s collected in body fat. Fat deposits in the skin store vitamin D3 and higher fat deposit contents, such as those seen in overweight or obese individuals alter and limit the release of vitamin D3 from the skin to circulation.
Benefits of Vitamin D
With steady levels of vitamin D in the system, the body can support:
- Healthy bones and teeth
- Stronger immune and nervous systems
- Better cognitive function
- Insulin level regulation
- Cardiovascular health
- Healthy pregnancy
- Infant’s health
- A decreased risk of asthma, dermatitis and eczema
- Flu risk reduction by 50 percent
“When most people think of Vitamin D they think of bone health, but it is much more than that. It supports immune and neuromuscular function, which is actually even more important,” adds Dr. Ernest Brown, founder of Doctors To You. “It also enhances absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate, and zinc. All of which means, it has even greater purpose in achieving good health and wellness.”
Adequate vitamin D absorption is vital to ensuring your body’s health needs are being met. Dr. Brown suggests 5,000 IU a day for maximum benefits. “I take 5000 Units of vitamin D daily and not until recently did I know the effect on my health. I don’t get sick, my muscles don’t ache, and I feel more relaxed. When I don’t supplement for a few days it all comes back and the first place, I feel it is muscle soreness.”
How to Absorb More Vitamin D
1. Vitamin D Tests
Knowing how much vitamin D you need is the first step in ensuring you reach your daily needs. The 25(OH)D is the most efficient test to let you know if you’re getting enough vitamin D. This test can be requested from your doctor or you can use online resources for an in-home kit.
Supplements are a guaranteed method to provide your body with adequate vitamin D.
Whether you’re an athlete or just live an active lifestyle, Vital Choice’s
Sockeye Salmon Oil + Vitamin D Softgels can support your demanding lifestyle. Both salmon oil and vitamin D support the physical and mental demands that are placed on athletes and competitors. Unlike other fish oils this salmon oil contains no vitamin A, therefore offering no risk of vitamin A toxicity.
Magnesium is essential to ensure adequate Vitamin D absorption. Jigsaw’s Magnesium with SRT offers a slow release to allow maximum absorption without the typical discomfort associated with large doses of magnesium.
4. Everyday Foods to Consider
Food is part of your life. Consider your sunshine intake these past few days and swap out some of your usual foods with some of these vitamin D rich ones:
- Fish—Think salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and eel. A 3 oz salmon fillet contains 450 IU of vitamin D
- Mushrooms—Rich in vitamin D2 from UV sunlight, mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D
- Almond milk—With over 100 IU of vitamin D, almond milk is always a healthy alternative to cow’s milk
Simple Methods to Increase Your Sun Exposure
Some circumstances are out of your control. When work and family responsibilities can take up a lot of your ‘sunbathing’ time, it’s still beneficial to your health to find a few extra minutes throughout your day to grab some sun. Try these ideas:
- 5. Take a walk—Try for early morning, during your lunchbreak or after work. You’ll get some of the much-needed sun that your body’s missed out on, and you’ll add an exercise boost to promote a healthier and stronger body.
- 6. Embrace the sun during winter—Sure it can get cold outside, but making the extra effort to grab sunshine can make all the difference. If the sun is out, bundle up and try to get a little sunshine on your face if nothing else. Although most of your body is covered, a little sunshine is more beneficial th
- 7. High Quality Sunscreen—A lot of sunscreens on the market block sun exposure to the skin. This reduces
the absorption and production of vitamin D. 3rd Rock, has made America’s Safest Sunscreen, from food-grade edible ingredients, and is the only sunscreen on the market to block UVA and UVB rays.