The “Sunshine” Vitamin D

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.

Share Your Thoughts...

7 comments on “The “Sunshine” Vitamin D

  1. Barbara

    Thanks for your comments…
    Anne, the 30-100 ng/ml is in reference to the blood work. That is the range they use to measure your D levels. Once that number is determined, you and your doctor can decide on a dose. So for example, if your level is perfect at let’s say, 50 ng/mg, your doctor might suggest either no supplementation or the standard 400 IU daily. If your levels come back at 19 ng/dl then he might suggest much higher doses at say, 2000 IU (these are examples. I am not recommending these doses per se). I hope this is clear….

    Linda, while it is rather difficult to overdose on vitamin D, it is possible. Vitamin D is stored in fat therefore it can accumulate and when it does symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dehydration, fatigue, muscle weakness and loss of appetite. If you follow your doctor’s instructions and dose according to blood work, this is highly unlikely to happen.

    Thanks to you all for your comments! Have an excellent week!
    B

    Reply
  2. Linda

    Hi Barbara and thank you for your videos, i’ve been really enjoying them so much, i am glad i found your blog. You truly have a talent for making things that are somewhat intimidating and confusing easy to understand. This topic is interesting to me and i want to know if it’s possible to overdose on vitamin d, or what happens if i take too much???

    Reply
  3. cherie

    I was shocked when I discovered I was low in Vit D – I had been in the sun more that summer than in YEARS, but, I faithfully applied sunblock . . . hence the deficiency. Now I take a supplement to ensure I get enough since I burn so easily in the sun.

    Reply
  4. Anne

    My doctor recently told me I should be taking at least 2,000 units of Vitamen D daily. How does the “30-100 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter)” daily dosage that you recommend translate into units which is how it is usually shown on vitamen bottles? Is there a particular brand you recommend over others.

    Reply
  5. Louisya

    I always know when my vitamin D levels are low I feel tired and sluggish. I am taking multi-vitamins but still need extra vitamin D

    Reply
  6. Jonathan

    Great info barbara!! I expect that I will try natural sunshine at 3pm, since milk makes me feel inflammation. Look forward to your next video.
    JS

    Reply

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