Despite its misleading name, vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone synthesized through the skin from direct sunlight. It is a powerful immune modulator and it has anti-inflammatory properties. This nutrient/hormone is key to overall wellbeing and most of us are deficient and/or suboptimal.
I highly recommend everyone have their vitamin D level checked through blood work. Most labs consider a “normal” vitamin D to be between 30-100. However, that is far from “optimal”. I really strive to get my patient’s vitamin D between 60-80.
According to the CDC, it is estimated that at least 32% of children and adults are vitamin D deficient and that means less than 30 (not even optimal). Just imagine how many adults are suboptimal? Almost every person I see….
We are also seeing a rise in vitamin D deficiencies as obesity increases. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in both the liver and fat tissue. In other words, the more fat an individual has the more places vitamin D can get stored and therefore less vitamin D is circulating the body to be used.
Could this hormone be a nutrient POWERHOUSE?
Vitamin D is essential for a number of reasons, including:
- Bone health
- A healthy immune system
- Blood sugar stability
- Calming inflammation (key nutrient for individuals suffering from autoimmune disease; multiple sclerosis, hashimotos, crohn’s disease, mixed connective tissue, etc)
- Heart health
- Reduce risk of certain cancers; especially colon and breast
- Should I keep going?
There are even entire books written about the benefits of vitamin D including The Power of Vitamin D and The Vitamin D Solution.
There are several ways to naturally increase vitamin D, including:
Adding foods rich in vitamin D
- Cod Liver Oil
- Cow’s Milk
- Fortified Non-Dairy Milks (coconut or almond milk)
Get outside. Aim for 15 minutes of unprotected sun per day.
- There is an app for that… Dr. Hollick (a Vitamin D specialist) consulted with a company to create an app called DMinder. This app will tell you how much UV radiation you are receiving and how many units of vitamin D your body is synthesizing.
- Its also important to remember the darker our skin pigmentation the less we synthesize from the sun; however this is a catch 22 because paler individuals tend to lather up in sunscreen which hinders vitamin D synthesis.
Supplement! It is hard to get adequate sunlight and eat enough foods rich in vitamin D on a regular basis; making supplementation key, especially during the winter months.
- Most people need between 1,000-5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day with the goal being to get your serum (blood) levels between 60-80.
- Vitamin D is fat soluble so taking your vitamin D with food (especially healthy fats) will enhance absorption. Also, taking your vitamin D supplement with K2 (another fat soluble vitamin) helps with absorption.
Here are a few of my favorite vitamin D supplements:
If you want to know your level, come see me at 2UMedical.