Recently the importance of the often forgotten vitamin D have come into the spotlight. Study after study reveals that low levels of vitamin D enable disease progression in the body while adequate levels of this sunshine vitamin not only decrease your risk of disease but also helps to fight off diseases already in place.
(There are five known types of vitamin D. D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. For our purposes here we are speaking of vitamins D2 and D3.)
5 Reasons You May be Deficient in Vitamin D
For a number of reasons, many people aren’t getting enough daily or weekly vitamin D, leading to vitamin D deficiency. You may not get enough vitamin D if:
- You don’t get enough sunlight. If your body has regular exposure to the sun, it’s typically able to get the vitamin D it needs. However, many people don’t get enough sunlight simply due to the amount of time they spend indoors, whether it’s due to work, lifestyle or cold weather.
- You wear sunscreen. If the moisturizer you use has an SPF value, it will block UVB rays and will not allow your body to produce any vitamin D. You can use a moisturizing, safe, NON-SPF cream to moisturize your skin. I personally use organic coconut oil to moisturize my skin, as this provides a host of other benefits as well. After your exposure simply stay in the shade, cover up with light weight clothes or if you still want to be in the open sun, use a non-toxic lotion with SPF15 for uncovered skin, read more about toxic sunscreens here. Be sure to stay on the safe side of burning.
- You have darker skin. People with darker skin need more exposure to the sun to get the same amount of vitamin D as people with lighter skin.
- You don’t take supplements. It’s very difficult to get enough vitamin D from the foods you eat alone.
- Your body needs more vitamin D than usual if you’re obese or pregnant.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Detecting a vitamin D deficiency from symptoms alone is difficult because the common symptoms are vague, such as tiredness or general aches and pains.
More severe symptoms of vitamin d deficiency are pain in your bones and overall weakness and difficulty getting around. Some people may get frequent infections. It’s important to remember that some people, if not most, may never get these symptoms.
This is why it’s so important to have your blood levels tested to determine your vitamin D levels.If you think you may have vitamin D deficiency, you should see your physician or have a blood test to check your vitamin D levels.
Chronic Diseases Fueled by Vitamin D Deficiency
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Cold & Flu
- Cystic fibrosis
- Diabetes 1 and 2
- Eczema & Psoriasis
- Hearing loss
- Heart disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Macular degeneration
- Multiple Sclerosis Crohn’s disease
- Muscle pain
- Periodontal disease
- Pre eclampsia
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Signs of aging
In a recent study, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that leukemia patients with low levels of vitamin D at their diagnosis were twice as likely to die and progressed at a faster rate than those with adequate vitamin D levels. They also discovered trends revealing that higher levels of vitamin D matched with longer survival times and decreased progression of the disease.
D. Alexander Parker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Urology at Mayo Clinic in Florida, suggests that one-quarter of Americans suffer from low levels of Vitamin D.
In fact according to data obtained by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 7.6 million children across the USA were vitamin D deficient. This is defined as less than 15ng/ml of blood.
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for bone health as well as reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer. It is vital for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. In addition it has been found to:
- Regulate and support the immune system
- Maintain healthy body weight
- Reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis
- Maintaining brain function as you age
- Reduce severity and frequency of asthma symptoms
- Reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women
How Much Vitamin D Should You Get?
Check out the chart below for the recommended amounts of vitamin d. Again, it’s worth pointing out that the only way to accurately know is to test your blood.
How Do You Get Vitamin D?
The best source of vitamin D is from the God given sunshine.
It is recommended that you should get ten to fifteen minutes of sun on the face, arms, hands, and back at least two times a week. Be careful to stay on the safe side of burning.
However, for some people living in areas of the world where it’s not easy to get adequate sunlight, I recommend supplementing with a high quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
If you’re struggling to get the advised amounts of sun exposure try a high quality supplement such as Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code Raw D3 available here.
4 Best Food Sources for Vitamin D3
- Wild Caught Salmon (and other fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and sardines. Not Tilapia)
- Raw Dairy like cheese and yogurt
What’s the Best Time of Day for Vitamin D?
The best time of day to get sunlight exposure for vitamin D is noon.
It’s essential to know and maintain healthy levels of vitamin d to protect against disease and disability later in life. For this reason, it’s important to get proper testing to know your levels of vitamin D.
How to Test Your Vitamin D levels at Home
As I mentioned earlier, having a blood tests to measure the amount of vitamin D in your blood is the only way to know if you’re getting enough vitamin D or not. The blood test you need is called a 25(OH)D Blood Test. You have a few options for testing, the two below are very easy and straightforward:
1. Order an in-home test. These tests are simple to use. Order online and a test is sent to your home. You prick your finger and put a drop of blood on to blotter paper, then you simply send the paper to a laboratory to be tested. You can order an in-home test at www.zrtlab.com.
2. Order a test online and get blood work done at a lab. Here in the U.S., you can bypass your doctor and go straight to the testing laboratory. There are a few websites that will assist you in this: mymedlab.com, healthcheckusa.com. You can buy a 25(OH)D test from all of these companies and have the test itself done at your nearest LabCorp. These tests do tend to be slightly more expensive than in-home tests.
Interpreting your test results isn’t complicated either. This chart can be used to determine if you’re severely lacking in vitamin D (deficient), mildly lacking in vitamin D (insufficient) or if you’re already getting enough vitamin D (sufficient). Vitamin D range guidelines from various organizations:
It’s suggested that 80-100 ng/ml is the ideal level to aim for. This is why the Vitamin D Council recommends adults take 5,000 IU/day of vitamin D supplement in order to reach and stay at this level.
- Vitamin D is essential for bone health but also has been shown to help reduce the risk of numerous diseases.
- Americans are dangerously deficient in vitamin D levels.
- The best source of vitamin D is God’s provided sunshine.
- The second best option is supplementing with Raw Vitamin D3.
- Your third source is foods like salmon, raw dairy, eggs, and mushrooms.
- Test your blood to determine accurate levels of vitamin D.