Why Vitamin D or Lack of It May Be Contributing to or Causing Your Health Issues
I’m sure everyone has heard of vitamin D and its importance to our overall health! If not, please crawl out from under that rock for a moment so I can bring you up to speed! I hope most people even consume it on a daily basis (or they should). Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all, but a pro-hormone because it can be made in our body when we are exposed to light. This is where our problems arise. Nowadays, we get very little sun in our fabrics on a regular basis. Many of us live at a latitude that predisposes us to less than normal sun exposure on our skin (where all the vitamin D magic begins), or we slather on sunscreen to protect against the effects harmful effects from the sun (like the production of vitamin D to keep us healthy) which stops our conversion to vitamin D!
It turns out that about 40% of the world’s population is vitamin D deficient, and over 70% of Americans are either deficient or insufficient in their vitamin D levels. The sunlight we are exposed to daily is our main source of vitamin D and since we get very little from our diet, if we are not getting this exposure on our skin, you can imagine how important supplementation becomes. Vitamin D deficiency (a serum vitamin D 25-OH level below 20 ng/dl) is linked to many chronic diseases, cancers, poor bone health, autoimmune diseases, neurocognitive problems such as depression, stability of mood and Alzheimer’s disease. You can begin to see the importance of having adequate levels for our bodies to function efficiently and disease free. We have a vitamin D receptor in almost every cell in our body and it is responsible for regulating over 3000 of our genes. So you can understand the seriousness of the situation. Unless you plan to tan in the summer and take a vacation to tan in the winter, your vitamin D needs might need some attention. I always tell my patients that they need to know their vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin (OK, pro-hormone) that needs to be monitored. As with any fat-soluble vitamin, toxicity can be an issue (although vitamin D has a very broad level of safety).
Where are we going to start? With a simple, inexpensive blood draw, which is not done routinely with normal CBC or CMP, but can easily be added by asking your doctor. The test is serum vitamin D 25-OH, and is one of the most important numbers you should know.
I had a patient who suffered from crippling agoraphobia (she felt it was dangerous to leave her house). What stands out the most from his blood work results is that his 25-OH vitamin D level was in the single digits at 7 ng/dl. Very soon after taking a vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplement, she had no more anxiety, depression, or mood swings, and her words were, “She felt like herself again. “!
Vitamin D is one of the supplements I tell each of my patients they should take regularly for their health. How much can you ask? The dosage depends on your serum blood levels. If you are deficient or insufficient in your vitamin D levels, work with a practitioner to help you monitor it and adjust your dosage appropriately. That being said, a very safe dose that you can start taking immediately (until you can get your blood levels checked) is a summer dose of 5,000 IU and a winter dose of 7-10,000 IU of vitamin D3 . Everyone should take a vitamin D supplement for better health. If you need to check your levels or customize your dosage, give us a call and we’ll accommodate your needs.