How Important is Vitamin D?
When people think of vitamin D, their initial thought is hugely in relation to its importance in bone health. It is very true that vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption – without it, calcium is not properly absorbed into the bones, and instead deposits into soft tissue like the arteries and can create blockages. However, vitamin D is equally important for many other reasons. The nutrient plays a vital role in supporting immune function, so it helps protect against colds and flu, and autoimmune diseases like lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has also been shown to help protect against certain cancers like breast and colorectal cancer.
Having Low Levels of Vitamin D is Very Common
Many people are surprised to learn that they have low vitamin D levels, but most people who come into my practice tend to come in fairly low on the spectrum. Having low vitamin D levels may indicate that you’re simply not in-taking enough in the first place, or it may also be related to poor absorption once in the system, for any number of reasons. What’s more, vitamin D deficiency often has no obvious symptoms, until the time that you develop chronic illness, that is probably hard to attribute specifically to this nutrient. So it really is worth getting your levels checked, and then doing what’s necessary to boost them if need be. Healthy levels of vitamin D range from 30-100 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). Ideally, the average person wants to aim for between the 50-60 ng/mL range. A large portion of my clients come in below the 30 ng/mL level.
Who Are Most Likely to be Deficient in Vitamin D?
It’s also a common misconception that only people who live in colder, darker climates are likely to have low vitamin D levels. There are other demographics who typically need to take action to raise their levels. People who are quite likely to find they have low Vitamin D levels include:
- People who have had their gall bladder removed
- People who suffer with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis
- Vegans (those who do not eat animal products)
- Long-term diabetics
So What Can Be Done to Increase our Vitamin D Levels?
While it’s easy to become deficient in vitamin D, fortunately, there are some simple ways to boost your levels. Here are my best suggestions:
- Spending time outside in the sun is the very best way to boost your levels naturally and organically. Ten minutes outside everyday can safely increase your levels. Keep in mind that the skin ought to be bare to absorb the sun’s rays, and should not be covered in sunscreen. So be mindful about going outside after the strongest, midday sun has passed so that you do not get burnt. Obviously this is easier to do during the warmer months, but remember that even on cooler or seemingly cloudy days, it’s still worth allowing the skin to kiss the sky if you can. Making this a habit is a great way to get to enjoy the great outdoors a little every day, and will also boost serotonin levels!
- Eating wild Alaskan salmon. If you find it hard to come by this particular type of salmon in your local stores, I recommend Vital Choice, an online supplier of wild seafood.
- Dairy is often the first source that people think of when it comes to upping their vitamin D levels, but often dairy foods like milk and yogurt are fortified with Vitamin D2, which is not very compatible with the natural vitamin D found in our bodies, and so is not so easily absorbed. Additionally, as I mention fairly often, dairy is very mucus forming in the body and so I don’t recommend it as a main staple in the diet.
- Taking a vitamin D supplement may be the best option for people who have had their levels positively diagnosed as very low by their health care provider. Once your levels have been established, you can begin to supplement them carefully under their guidance. If vitamin D supplements are recommended, be sure to take a cholecalciferol vitmain D supplement. Gel caps are the best absorbed, taken after you eat. If you do go this route, be sure to get your levels checked again a few months later, so that your supplementation can be adjusted if necessary.
If you are getting your vitmain D levels checked, it’s important to request the correct blood test. Your doctor may not receive this request very often and there are several different vitamin D blood tests available. The correct one to request is the Vitamin D 25 Hydroxy level test.
Have you found that your Vitamin D levels were low? Was this a surprise to you? If you have a story or question surrounding this topic, please share it in the comments section below – I am interested to learn of your experience and I’m sure my readers will be too.