What is Vitamin D?
Believe it or not, Vitamin D is actually a hormone. It is produced in the skin in response to sunlight exposure and is also found in certain foods. Once in the body, vitamin D is converted by the kidneys into its active form, the hormone Calcitriol. In it’s active form, Vitamin D works to support numerous essential body functions such as bone formation and the immune system.
What are the Benefits of Vitamin D?
· Strengthens the immune system
· Improves absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium
· Strengthens bones and teeth
· Prevents Osteoporosis
· Prevents diabetes
· Reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
· Prevents cancer progression
· Prevents depression
· Decreases the risk of heart disease
· Supports a healthy pregnancy
· Prevents rheumatoid arthritis
What problems are associated with Low Vitamin D levels?
Studies have shown that more than 42% of the US population is Vitamin D deficient. However, it is estimated that more than 80% of black people may be deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D Deficiency has been associated with health concerns such as:
· Muscle pain
· Bone pain
· Hair loss
· Weak bones
· Poor wound healing
· Frequent infections
Who is at risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
· People with dark skin
· Elderly people
· Overweight and obese people
· People who spend most of their time indoors
· People who follow vegan or vegetarian diets
· People who live far from the equator
· People with malabsorption problems
· People who regularly use sunscreen
· People with kidney or liver disease
· People who have had weight loss surgery
· People on certain medications such as steroids, laxatives, seizure medications, cholesterol medications
How is low Vitamin D detected?
Vitamin D deficiency is easily detected with a blood test. Although levels greater than 30 ng/mL are considered “normal”, most experts agree that the optimal level is greater than 50 ng/mL.
How does one get enough Vitamin D?
Sun exposure is the best source of Vitamin D. The amount of sun exposure needed varies based on location, time of day and the person’s complexion. For example, a dark-skinned person far from the equator would need more sun exposure than a light-skinned person located close to the equator. The time of the day is also an important factor because UV light absorption peaks at noon. Sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM is usually effective though.
Dietary sources of Vitamin D are important as well. Foods such as egg yolks, mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines, fortified foods and dairy products are good dietary sources of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplements are often recommended for treatment of low vitamin D levels and also for prevention of low Vitamin D. Vitamin K₂ is a Vitamin that helps with regulating calcium absorption and should be taken with Vitamin D supplements. The recommended dose for supplements will vary. Your primary care physician can tell you how much Vitamin D you should be taking. It is possible to overdose on Vitamin D supplements so it is important to only take the recommended amount.
Would you like to learn more about Vitamin D? Are you wondering if supplements are right for you? Do you wish to have your Vitamin D level checked? Feel free to reach out to us. We would love to help.