We have now returned home from our trip up north to prepare for our next adventure. While I practice learning key phrases in a different language (international trip perhaps?) I have decided to tackle a topic near and dear to my heart, that of vitamin/mineral supplementation, in particular vitamin D.
I have decided to write on this topic as I am one of those freaks who, instead of reading news articles ad nauseam, I pore through health and nutrition literature, topics for which I am most passionate. And with all the documentation out there, it can be mind-boggling. What I hope to do here is to open up a dialogue, and quite honestly, learn from your comments. So, here goes…
Disclaimer: I have no medical credentials to substantiate anything in this post; I’m just a passionate consumer. This is based on what I have read over many years and what resonates with me, which is the approach I take with most things in life.
Several years ago I read a book written by Dr. Sarfraz Zaidi, Power of Vitamin D, which for me was an aha moment. Since then I have read many articles on the subject. As I had lived in sunny Arizona for many years, I was shocked to read that this Southern California doctor discovered, after testing, that almost 90% of this patients were vitamin D deficient. Soon after I had my doctor test my level and found that I too was deficient. This started me on a course of vitamin D supplementation and a new approach to sun exposure.
What I have learned in my readings is that there is evidence to support a relationship between vitamin D deficiency and “bone pain, osteoporosis, immune disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, and cancer”. There are now over 800 references in the medical literature to support vitamin D’s effectiveness against cancer and many others that show vitamin D’s ability to fight infections and chronic inflammation.
If you buy into any of this literature, right now you may be wondering why your medical doctor has not told you about the risks of vitamin D deficiency. It may be because he/she may not know, as this is not covered in the medical schools’ curricula, which Dr. Zaidi says is often tailored to drug companies’ standards. It is not a drug so big pharma is not going to get behind it. In fact, vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but a steroid hormone instead.
I read an article a couple of years ago on Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website, where he states that “vitamin D deficiency is a pandemic in the United States, with 50% of the general population at risk”. Blood testing is the only way to be sure if you are vitamin D deficient.
If you prefer not to incur the cost of an office visit to have your doctor order a vitamin D blood test for you, there are several options for ordering in-home kits. Here are just a few of the outlets available:
The best source of vitamin D is sun exposure, as your skin creates it as a response to UV radiation. But if you can’t use the sun for your source, which may be dependent upon where you live or how you process vitamin D, then an oral supplement may be your next best bet.
Safe Sunlight Exposure
If you want to get your vitamin D from the sun, here are a few factors I have read for practicing safe sunlight exposure:
- Time – the best time to expose yourself to the sun for processing vitamin D is between 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
- Skin pigmentation – fair-skinned people can max out their needed vitamin D production in as little as 10-20 minutes in the sun. Those with darker skin will need more sun than this.
- Sensitive body parts – sunblock and/or hats should be used for the delicate skin of faces and necks. But, unlike what we have been told for years due to fear of skin cancer, a little UV radiation, by way of sun exposure, is most likely very good for us.
If you do opt for vitamin D supplements, which are inexpensive, studies show that taking this with vitamin K2 is very beneficial, as K2 helps move calcium into the areas of your body where it is needed, such as bones and teeth, and helps remove calcium from areas where we don’t want it, namely arteries and soft tissues.
What are optimal levels of vitamin D?
7 Signs You May Be Vitamin D Deficient
- You have darker skin. ~ Those with darker skin may need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person.
- You feel “blue”. ~ Serotonin, the mood elevator hormone, rises with increased exposure to the sun.
- You are 50+. ~ As we age our skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D in response to sun exposure.
- You are overweight. ~ Vitamin D is fat soluble so it collects in fat cells. If you are overweight you are likely to need more vitamin D than a slimmer person.
- Your bones ache. ~ Many who see their doctor for body aches and pains, accompanied by fatigue, may be diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. For some, studies have found that when tested for vitamin D deficiency and treated with larger doses of vitamin D, their symptoms have resolved.
- Head sweating. ~ This is one of the classic signs of vitamin D deficiency.
- You have gut problems. ~ If your body lacks the ability to absorb fat properly, you may have a lower absorption of vitamin D as well. This may be true for conditions such as Crohn’s, celiac, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Smartphone apps can track just about anything so I was not surprised that there is an app for tracking the UV radiation you’re getting in your area and how many units of vitamin D you are making. If you are interested, check out DMinder.
There are hundreds of articles on the subject of vitamin D, some in favor of sun exposure and supplementation and some concerned about toxicity. I would suggest googling vitamin D articles if you have an interest, and I would love to hear your comments, although please refrain from making this a political issue.