Updated: Mar 1
Do you know if you're getting enough vitamin D? Do you know if your body has enough stored? Or, are you deficient?
You may know vitamin D as "The Sunshine Vitamin." The reason for this is because when our skin is exposed to the sun's UVB rays, 7-dehydrocholesterol (which is already present in your skin) can be converted to cholecalciferol, or, vitamin D3. But this is dependent on several factors: the time of day, the distance between you and the sun (as in, the season or latitude), and the pigment of your skin.
Did you know that Vitamin D deficiency is an issue for an estimated 1 billion people world-wide?
That even includes folks who live in sunny climates! Protecting skin from the sun's rays by using clothing or sun screen prevents the conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to D3. But low vitamin D status is especially common for folks living in the northern hemisphere (a latitude greater than 35 degrees), as those UVB rays are further away for greater periods of time.
If you aren't supplementing with at least 800 IU vitamin D daily, you haven't had your levels checked, AND you live in the northern hemisphere, It's likely you're deficient.
If you're nodding your head yes to all of that, AND you are experiencing poor mood, muscle or bone pain, frequent respiratory infections, and/or fatigue (just to name a few), then make it a priority to either get some blood work done or discuss it with your doc ASAP!
With optimal levels of vitamin D (at least 30-60 ng per mL) your body reaps so many benefits including the following:
Greater bone density by increasing your body's absorption of calcium and phosphorous. This minimizes the risk for osteomalacia, osteoporosis; thus reduces the risk for fractures. Better absorption of calcium and phosphorous also supports normal functioning of the parathyroid gland. The parathyroid gland plays a part in bone development, and muscle strength.
Stronger immune system, specifically reduced risk for respiratory illnesses.
Reduced risk for cancer by destroying malignant cells.
Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes by playing a part in controlling blood sugars and sensitizing cells to insulin (true client story: after supplementing with 1,000 IU vitamin D daily, Ben's blood sugars became better controlled).
Reduced risk for high blood pressure, depression, multiple sclerosis, Chron's disease, and schizophrenia.
Supports brain development in utero, and brain function later in life.
Isn't it fascinating vitamin D can do all that??
Unfortunately, vitamin D is a tough one to come by naturally in food. Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna are excellent natural sources. Egg yolks naturally contain a little vitamin D as well. Milks, both dairy and non-dairy, are fortified. But that's about it! If you eat fish every day, drink about 24 fl. oz. milk containing fat, or eat about 10 eggs a day, then it's POSSIBLE your vitamin D levels are normal. But PLEASE note: I don't recommend eating 10 eggs a day, and there is much information to disclose around the topic of dairy.
Here's the take-home message:
If you don't know what your vitamin D level is, first and foremost, get it checked. If it is below 30 ng/mL, you absolutely need to begin supplementing with vitamin D3. Consult your doctor or dietitian to create a treatment plan as soon as possible.
Holick, MF. Vitamin D Deficiency. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2007; 357:266-281
The George Metelijan Foundation. Vitamin D. The World's Healthiest Foods. Accessed January 2020.