How much Vitamin D are you getting, and how much do you need?
This is a hot topic that people tend to get confused, especially heading into the winter months..… "Should I take it? Not take it? Have it checked? If I have it checked, what does it mean?”
Living in the technological age where we constantly have entertainment at our fingertips can lead to major changes in our daily habits. For one, we just don’t get outside as much as we used to! That's where our friend Vitamin D comes in; a unique breed in the world of vitamins because we are able to synthesize it in our own bodies with adequate sun exposure. That being said, if we are not outside enough to allow that synthesis to occur, it can lead us down the path of vitamin deficiency.
So how does Vitamin D benefit us?
Vitamin D plays a vital role in helping us to absorb calcium which keeps our bones strong and healthy
It assists in neuromuscular function
Aids in cell growth & recycling
Strengthens our immune system defense
Reduces inflammation in the body
Therefore, becoming deficient in this nutrient puts us at risk for disease, brittle bones, infections, and more.
Bottom line: Getting enough Vitamin D is truly very important to help us maintain optimal health!
Finding balance between too little & too much Vitamin D
Like many other vitamins and minerals, too much or too little Vitamin D can lead to overdose or deficiency symptoms.
Because our bodies are intuitive and wise, when we obtain our vitamin D from sunlight alone, it is impossible for us to overdose because our synthesis eventually slows down as we reach our peak levels.
In order to get vitamin D through sun exposure alone, it is recommended that we spend time in the sun 5-30 minutes a day at least twice weekly between peak sunlight hours (10 am- 3 pm).
When sunlight hours are lower, like in winter, there are other sources of Vitamin D. Read on......
In addition, there are a few ways to get Vitamin D through your diet. Natural sources are recommended, while fortified sources may be used in moderation.
Vitamin D is found naturally in:
- Fish (Salmon, Sardines, Tuna)
- Pasture-Raised Eggs
- Some mushroom species (shiitakes)
Vitamin D fortified sources:
- Cow’s Milk
- Fortified Breakfast cereals
- Juices (check for fortification)
Supplementation is often necessary for those who live farther from the equator, live in a city with lots of cloudy/rainy days, spend most of their daylight hours indoors, have darker skin, or live somewhere with lots of pollution. Living in Oregon I see that 90% of my clients tend to be low in Vitamin D! Supplementation must be carefully monitored because it can lead to overdose if we’re not responsible for our intake.
I have seen many people in my office who have taken 5000 IU/day for years and yet have never had their Vitamin D levels checked –this is a "no-no" because too much Vitamin D can be toxic.
Ask a Registered Dietitian (someone like me!) or MD about the levels you need to have in your blood and they will be able to help you determine how much you are missing and what levels of supplementation would be most appropriate for you, AFTER the current levels in your body are measured.
I have clients bring in their tested Vitamin D levels (or have them get tested) and then explain in detail what they mean for their body. It’s ideal to check your Vitamin D a couple of times per year (seasonally) and then regulate those levels for your body and any medical issues with the use of sun exposure, fortified foods and quality supplements.
When your levels are in balance, it can help with mild depression, increase energy levels and strengthen your immune system!
Did you know?
LO-Solutions also offers an accurate, unique comprehensive Micronutrient testing!
Shows the vitamins, minerals and amino acids at the cellular level, over the past 6 months - so you can see where you are deficient or borderline deficient in vital nutrients for the body.
Shows the overall strength of your immune system - which is what keeps us healthy and strong. We can take lifestyle interventions to get this to optimal levels.
Shows how well your body is handling stress & free radicals. Again, something we can work on with anti-inflammatory lifestyle changes.
It is useful to help personalize what foods you should be eating and if you need any supplements for issues that may be hard to correct with food alone. When we get vitamins and minerals to adequate levels for your body, other symptoms that we often put up with or ignore can clear up!!!