Information about vitamin D is everywhere. So, what is the big deal about vitamin D? Why is it critical to your health?
- Sunshine is not Enough!
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin because exposing our skin to sunlight produces Vitamin D in our bodies. But this is not enough, especially in the environment we live in today. It makes sense that a vitamin D supplement is necessary if you live in a sun-deprived area of the country, like the northeast, where winters are long and the cloud cover is dense. But there are studies that have shown that people who live in San Diego are just as deficient in Vitamin D as someone who lives in the northeast. Therefore, sunshine is not enough. But why? Didn’t it used to be enough? We live in a changing world. We cannot rely on the sunshine as our sole source of Vitamin D for the following reasons:
- the use of sunscreen
- living in big cities where buildings block the sunlight,
- our society’s growing addiction to electronics, most often used inside
- metabolic issues that reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D
- It regulates calcium and phosphorus absorption in the bones.
- Because it is actually a hormone, vitamin D helps the cells in our body communicate.
- It regulates our immune system. Low vitamin D results in a disrupted immune system. This is very important for those with autoimmune conditions.
- It helps support cognitive functions and keeps the brain functioning later in life.
- It helps support a healthy body weight, according to research conducted at the Medical College of Georgia.
- It reduces the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women.
- It can lower the risk of developing cancer according to a study carried out by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
- It has been suggested that it may decrease the risk of heart attack and early death.
So, vitamin D is critical – now what?
There are two main types of vitamin D – D2 and D3. Most doctors prescribe D2, which has to be converted into D3 to become active in the body. This requires energy. New research suggests that D3 is more effective. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, concluded that Vitamin D2 is much less effective than Vitamin D3 in humans. So, it is important to find a vitamin D supplement that has vitamin D3.
You can also find vitamin D3 in food, especially in fish. Remember though that you should always eat wild caught fish (more on this in another blog). Choose one of these types of fish to increase your vitamin D levels:
- Tuna Fish
Other foods are also great sources of vitamin D, including:
- Cod liver oil (Carlson’s is a good quality cod liver oil)
- Orange juice fortified with Vitamin D (organic)
Ok., I got it. Vitamin D is important and I know how to get it, but how much should I take? What is the right level of Vitamin D in the body?
Mainstream medicine recommends vitamin D levels of between 32 IUs and 80 IUs, but most are happy if your vitamin D level stays around 35 IUs. In functional medicine, this is far too low. You want to reach and keep your ranges between 50 and 80 IUs. You should always have your vitamin D level checked before starting any vitamin D regimen. A note on testing, make sure that the test run is checking Vitamin D25 levels because vitamin D25 is the “most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body,” according to the National Institute of Health.
To maintain the recommended level of vitamin D, you will need to take a supplement and/or consume 2000 to 5000 IU’s per day. Yes, it is possible to get too much Vitamin D, but this is very rare. You should include a Vitamin D25 test as part of routine blood testing for the first few years after you begin a vitamin D regimen so that you can make sure that your levels continue to be within the proper range.
Dr. David Starkey, D.C.
For more information go to www.balancingyourchemistry.com
Functional Endocrinology of Ohio
Akron: 2800 S. Arlington Road,Suite 100, Akron, Ohio 44312 (330)644-5488
Independence: 6200 Rockside Woods Blvd.,Suite 100, Independence, Ohio 44131 (216)236-0060
Dr. Keith S. Ungar, Dr. David Starkey, Dr. Andrew Kender, Chiropractic Physicians