Article contributed by Amy Moll, L.Ac., Dipl. Ac.
Vitamin D has been receiving a lot of attention lately due to the mounting research on the negative effects of not having enough of it. Vitamin D is produced by the body when adequate sunlight hits the skin. Widespread Vitamin D deficiency in the US population is thought to be caused by the use of sunscreen, excess fear, lack of sun exposure, and living in Northern regions. According to recent research, the Vitamin D Council recommends healthy blood levels to be between
50 – 100 ng/ml. This can be checked with a 25(OH) Vitamin D blood test.
Vitamin D3, or cholcalciferol, is the best supplement form to take for those who have deficiencies. It requires other fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A and K and certain trace minerals in order to be properly utilized by the body, therefore, a holistic view of nutrition is essential when considering Vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin D deficiency can play a role in:
- Autoimmune Disease
- Birth Defects
- Chronic Pain
- Heart Disease
- Muscle Weakness
- Muscle Wasting
7 signs you may have a vitamin D Deficiency:
1. Your Bones Ache – especially in the winter time, bones feel more achy and joints are more stiff.
2. You’ve Got the Blues – Vitamin D seems to improve levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which in turn could lift your spirits.
3. You’re 50 or Older – As we age, our skin simply does not produce as much Vitamin D and the Kidneys become a little less productive at converting that D into a usable form.
4. You’re Overweight or Obese – Vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning the more body fat you have, the more it gets “diluted.” People who are overweight or obese may require more daily vitamin D to make up for this effect.
5. You Have Darker Skin – Someone with very dark skin needs up to 10 times the amount of sun exposure than someone with a very pale complexion to make the same amount of vitamin D.
6. You Are a Big Head Sweater – Said to be one of the first classic signs of Vitamin D deficiency.
7. You Have Gut Trouble – People with Crohn’s, celiac or inflammatory bowel disease may be a greater risk for vitamin D deficiency because of the way these gastrointestinal disorders affect fat absorption. With these and other stomach issues, fat absorption can be lower, but that in turn lowers absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like D, according to the NIH.
So how can you get your D safely?
Sensible sun exposure is key, since D production only occurs on unprotected skin. If you know you’re likely to get a mild sunburn after 30 minutes outside without sunscreen, venture out for about 10 to 15 minutes and then put your sun protection on, he says. Expose arms, legs, abdomen and back if you can, for max vitamin D production. And keep in mind depending on where you live, you may only make vitamin D for part of the year due to the angle of the sun, and likely only from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the same reasons.