If you are from the most northeast regions of the country, and especially if you are one of my CNY followers or clients, you know sunlight is not always easy to come by! Why do I mention it? It is one of the ways our body makes Vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is real, and can be very serious. It is estimated there are over a billion people word wide (including children) that have deficiency. Today, this is especially important because this particular deficiency can be really detrimental to immunity. In the midst of a pandemic – it might be worth looking at.
What happens when you have vitamin D deficiency?
Not only is your immune system altered but you can also suffer things like poor dental health and disease, autoimmunity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, type II diabetes and neurological disorders.1
Of course the more well known effects are also on bone health.
So what are some symptoms then of deficiency if you haven’t reached the stages of the diseases listed above?
This is where is it tricky because most people really don’t show symptoms they could identify with having this deficiency. Some people will exhibit some depression type of symptoms while others will not. Sometimes hair, nails and bones are brittle, but sometimes it doesn’t come through. This makes it something that can go unnoticed for a long time until the diseases above are present, where then the deficiency is found.
Some symptoms may include chronic pain, kidney issues, Crohn’s Disease, or more mild symptoms like excessive thirst, diarrhea, nausea, weakness, and headaches.
How do you get Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is obtained through diet, and sun exposure to direct skin. There are two types of vitamin D, D2, and D3. D3 is the best and most readily available to your body for use. It can be from UVB rays, foods like oily fish, supplements and things like eggs and other dairy type of products.
Vitamin D can be stored in your body in the liver, skin, brain, spleen, bones as well in your fat tissue. That is why it is called a fat soluble vitamin. It is possible to overdose on vitamin d since it is stored in the body, but most people are deficient today.
Steps to Boosting Your Vitamin D
First of all, it is worth asking at your physical to have your doctor measure vitamin D levels. This will give you and your doctor and idea of where to start, or maybe that you have enough!
Your doctor can run blood work to measure your levels.
If you are an adult under 50 recommended levels are 5 mcg (or 200 IU) per day is recommended, between 50-70 years old 10 mcg (400 IU), and over 70 years old 15 mcg (600 IU). It is possible that some adults can tolerate, use and store more than this, but it is best with this type of vitamin to get enough but not overdo it.
How can we do that?
Step 1 – Get outside!
Pay attention to your sunscreen to start. Most sunscreen does block UVB rays. So you will not be able to make vitamin D if you are blocking all those rays. Just 20 minutes in the direct sun on a larger portion of skin (choose a less intensely hot time of day) will help you boost your levels. This might be just eating outside on your deck in a tank top! Maybe it is taking a hike and holding off on covering up or putting on sunscreen for a bit. Remember, prolonged intense sun exposure can lead to sunburns. So be wise and bring a hat, or clothing to cover with after you have gathered your rays for the day.
Step 2 – Each Vitamin D rich foods, and be sure you have enough of their helpers!
Nutrition is always the best way to consume your nutrients. Eggs are great sources of vitamin D and their helpers, but you MUST eat the WHOLE egg. This is how you get the nutrients and all their helpers. They go together in a whole food. This is the case in most whole foods. The nutrients help each other be absorbed.
Vitamin D needs magnesium (also a large deficiency today), boron, zinc and vitamin A. Zinc is also a huge deficiency for most people, which also plays into immunity. Vitamin A is another rich, fat soluble vitamin that aids in immunity and more, and you need it to use vitamin D properly.
Some other food sources include salmon (about 66% of the recommended daily value, but you need more), other fish like sardines, mackerel, butter, dark leafy greens, beef liver.
Although there are great sources in plants, they are D2, and although this is ok in smaller amounts for your body – the D3 found in animal items is the best and most useable for your body.
Supplementing is an option but your body never absorbs it as it does with food, and most supplements you can get OTC do not combine with other cofactors needed. Working with an NTP like myself, and using nutraceutical vitamins and minerals and combinations helps with effectiveness if you just can’t get enough through food sources. One great supplement that you can get that has some of the co factors with vitamin D is cod liver oil. I highly recommend this supplement. I give my son this one from Carlson – which I get online.
You do need this vitamin D also to help absorb calcium. Just like some other nutrients help vitamin D, it is a helper for calcium. So if you consume some whole fat dairy products you will get some of this. But it is important to remember that ANY modify food, reduced fat, and “enriched” or “fortified” has been altered and will not absorb properly in the body. These are generally foods that are processed. Sticking with whole foods with minimal to no processing is best for maximizing nutrients.
When you are getting vitamin D with vitamin A in food sources, as well as supplementation you reduce your risk of colds, helps improve allergies, type II diabetes, cataracts, visual issues, and skin problems!
It also aids in asthma, arthritis and menopause discomfort!
Step 3 – FIX YOUR DIGESTION!
It doesn’t matter how awesome you think your food choice is – if you have something going on with your digestion – like indigestion, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, reflux and more – you have poor absorption of any vitamin, mineral or nutrient for that matter.
Without proper absorption you will always be deficient. Addressing your specific digestive issue, and resolving those symptoms may allow you to absorb your food nutrients better, and have no need for supplementing. It all depends. It also depends on how and what you need to do to fix your digestive issues.
One of the main foundations I work on with clients in nutritional therapy is digestion. I am able to pinpoint your symptoms with a thorough health history, food journal and symptom assessment.
At the end of the day, getting vitamin D can be tricky if you aren’t eating a whole food diet, and you don’t get much direct sun. It’s summer, get out there – fill your stores up of vitamin D before the snow flies, and start with a garden with fresh whole foods, and some delicious seafood, fish and pastured eggs!