Vitamin D Deficiency
Are you one of the 85% of People Deficient in Vitamin D?
If you are a patient, you’ve heard me rant about how important vitamin D is for many years now. After thirty years of being vilified by the medical establishment and the press, vitamin D is gaining new popularity — and even becoming a hero — as a nutrient that supports your overall health. Recent discoveries suggest it has significantly more far-reaching effects than just your bone health, contrary to popular belief. In fact, vitamin D is known to support your body’s health systems in a variety of ways.
Research suggests that up to 85% of people could be deficient in vitamin D without knowing it… leaving them with less-than-optimal health. Current scientific research suggests that all cells and tissues in your body have vitamin D receptors — and further conclude that every cell and tissue needs vitamin D for its well-being. The reason why we are Vitamin D deficient is simply because we are now realizing how much the body uses it on a steady basis.
Vitamin D is responsible for the regulation of over 2,000 genes in your body. Vitamin D engages in very complex metabolic processes within your body. Scientists believe that vitamin D serves a wide range of fundamental biological functions relating to many aspects of your health. Your skin naturally produces your body’s supply of vitamin D from direct exposure to bright midday sun with a mere ten or fifteen minutes’ exposure per day.
For decades, there has been a lot of misinformation from the media and conventional medicine that created a fear of sunshine. Therefore, most people either intentionally or unintentionally avoid the sun — or smear on sunscreen that blocks the beneficial wavelengths that produce vitamin D in your skin.
Having too little vitamin D may not have any outwardly obvious signs. Yet vitamin D (specifically the vitamin D3 form) impacts an incredible array of support for systems and functions in your body such as:
- Heart health*
- Cell formation and cell longevity*
- Pancreatic health*
- Aging process*
- Sleep patterns*
- Reproductive health*
- Athletic performance*
- Eye health*
- Vascular system health*
- Respiratory health*
- Immune health
- Weight management, including carbohydrate and fat metabolism*
- Hair and hair follicles*
- Strong and healthy bones, vitamin D encourages calcium uptake*
- Proper digestion and food absorption*
Since healthy levels of vitamin D protect and promote so many of your body’s functions, a deficiency may mean your body lacks the tools it needs to keep you in optimal health, therefore, making sufficient vitamin D a very important issue for you to address.
I’ve long been an advocate that the absolute best way to get vitamin D is through direct sunlight on your skin. It’s the most natural way to acquire your D, and your body self-regulates the amount you receive. Now, I am NOT saying go out and lay in the sun for hours upon hours each day because obviously that is bad for you and has adverse effects on your skin tone. What I am saying is that it is healthy to go outside every day and try to get at least 15 to 30 minutes of direct sunlight. I encourage my patients to do this during family exercise time where EVERYONE goes for a walk after dinner, is outside playing with your children, or is exercising for better health.
One alternative is to regularly use a tanning bed that utilizes UV-B rays such as the revolutionary tanning beds. Unfortunately, you cannot always trust tanning salons so this is my least favorite alternative!!!! Whatever tanning bed you use, please be very sure it includes UV-B rays, so you get the exact rays that provide you optimal health benefits.
Your third alternative is internal supplementation with vitamin D3 — with a caveat.
Please — if you supplement with vitamin D3, have your vitamin D levels tested routinely to ensure you do not overdose with it. You and your physician need to be aware of your vitamin D levels so you can adjust your supplementation accordingly. This is a customized approach — not a one-size-fits-all. I cannot stress this point enough. I routinely see other physicians tell patients that they are within the standard mean for Vitamin D levels. The research I have done suggests that you want a minimum of 50 ul/mm.
Just who is likely to most need vitamin D supplementation? I strongly believe you should be testing your levels to know for sure whether you personally need to supplement. Some population groups are more likely to have lower-than-optimal vitamin D levels than others, but remember that 85% are estimated to be deficient. Are you one of the 85% — or in one of these groups that may suggest deficiencies?
· Overweight people. Individuals who are overweight often have considerably higher needs for vitamin D because vitamin D is oil soluble and hidden in their fat.
· Pregnant women. New evidence suggests that vitamin D levels during pregnancy may be critically important for you and your baby.
· The elderly. As you age, your skin loses the ability to generate vitamin D. Plus, the elderly tend to spend more time indoors.
· Dark-skinned people. Darker-skinned people have higher melanin levels, which blocks UVB radiation and limits the body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.
With 85% of the population deficient in Vitamin D3, it is linked to many of the non-detrimental symptoms that people feel from lethargy, to lack of sleep, to poor vision, and even skin tone. Get you D levels tested and stop the seasonal depression now. It is one small supplement that can make a world of difference in your life.