The sunshine vitamin……Vitamin D is more like a hormone in your body.
For me, living with Multiple Sclerosis, vitamin D is at the top of my list of supplements to take daily. I have to take the supplement each day as I cannot sit in the sun like I use to be able to. MS symptoms flare up when my body gets too hot so sitting out in the sun is not something I can do comfortably. But…if you can handle the sun for 30 minutes a day shining down on a good bit of exposed skin, that is the best way to get your vitamin D.
When you sit in the sun your body reacts to the ultraviolet rays that shine down from the sun. These rays from the sun react with the cholesterol in your skin cells and vitamin D synthesis occurs.
Vitamin D deficiency can become a serious issue as vitamin D is essential for optimal health.
A deficiency can lead to cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, multiple sclerosis and autism. Wow….very destructive right….
Vitamin D is important in the maintenance of bone health. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorous which are minerals needed to maintain strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin D promotes a healthy immune system.
Vitamin D plays an important role in keeping you in a stable mood so if you are deficient in vitamin D you may be depressed or low in energy and motivation.
Vitamin D is a strong supporter of respiratory health. High levels of vitamin D are good for your lungs. Being topped up with this vitamin could help you fight off outside viruses and ward off colds and flu.
Brain health is also influenced by Vitamin D.
Research shows that 50% of the population is at risk of a deficiency of Vitamin D. Many people don’t think they are at risk because they may consume fortified foods such as milk. Food is not the best way to get your vitamin D though.
The only way to know if you are low in vitamin D is through blood tests. There are some signs that you may be low though.
- feeling “blue” or down in the dumps could be a sign that your vitamin D levels are out of balance. Serotonin which is our good mood hormone in the brain gets elevated when we spend time in the sun. I know this to be true because after I spend time in the great outdoors, I’m more energetic and happier.
- age is a factor in our vitamin D levels. As we age our skin doesn’t produce as much D and our kidneys become less efficient at converting the D into the form our bodies use.
- if your are overweight you may need more vitamin D than your slimmer friend. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.
- if you have aching bones you may be deficient in vitamin D, especially if it is in conjunction with fatigue.
- if you have digestive troubles such as Crohn’s, celiac and/or gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease you may have low D levels. Get it checked.
I must confess that my recent blood tests with a naturopathic doctor in the USA identified that my vitamin D levels are very low. This was a shock for me to hear as I always had high vitamin D levels in past blood tests. I thought I was very careful at taking my Vitamin D daily. But…my body hasn’t been absorbing it properly. My naturopath has realigned my routine and hopefully the levels will improve in time. I can tell you that I have been dealing with some of the symptoms listed above thinking they were just the “way it is” with MS. No…that’s not the case.
Increasing vitamin D levels for all of us could slash the statistics on cancers such as breast, colorectal, prostate and more. Vitamin D plays a most important role in maintaining cell growth and helps to fight cancer cell development.
Vitamin D is a strong fighter against colds and flu. Vitamin D attacks and destroys the viruses that invade our bodies.
An optimal Vitamin D level also helps with heart health, and preventing autoimmune diseases such as MS.
When it comes to finding the right range for vitamin D in your body you want to be on the higher side. Of course the best way to get this is through natural sunshine on your skin for between 15 and 30 minutes per day. If you can’t get out in the sun then you must take a supplement of Vitamin D. The IU suggestion for daily vitamin D supplementation is low. It is highly recommended by my ND to get around 8000 IU per day and to take it along with vitamin K2 which helps the D get to where it needs to be in the body.
Some foods provide a bit of vitamin D ie., fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon, fortified milk and dairy products, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks.
Some foods that provide K2 include natto, goose liver, cheese, egg yolks, dark chicken meat and butter.
I take a vitamin D3 supplement with K2. Since my recent labs, I’ve upped my intake to get back in the high range. This has been an eye opener for me…someone who thought all of my vitamin levels were in good shape.
Have your Vitamin D tested next time you go to your doctor for a check-up. It’s important to monitor your D levels.