Vitamin D and your Body...
'Tis the Season...
#DaylightSavingsTime is now over and unfortunately, less sunlight is guaranteed. Vitamin D is crucial to your well-being year round, but you definitely want to maintain sufficient Vitamin D levels, during the Fall and Winter seasons, where sunlight is less. Especially us Melanin folk and those suffering from seasonal depression and anxiety.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin in a family of compounds that includes vitamins D-1, D-2, and D-3.
You can get vitamin D in a variety of ways.
These can include:
- Being exposed to safe sunlight. About 15-20 minutes three days per week is usually sufficient.
- Through the foods you eat.
- Through nutritional supplements.
However, let's just say, you're doing everything right..but, even with some sunshine and a healthy diet that includes vitamin D-rich foods, a supplement is likely necessary.
Guidelines published in 2018 in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology suggest supplements are needed to reach healthy blood concentrations. How much vitamin D is recommended? In 2011, the Endocrine Society released guidelines recommending 1,500-2,000 IUs to maintain a vitamin D status above 30 ng/mL. However, Dr. Bruce Hollis, Ph.D., Professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology, at Medical University of South Carolina, says that his research group and other researchers worldwide target 40-60 ng/mL as the optimal blood level. “To reach that level, adults need 4,000-6,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day,” says Hollis, “This should be a lifetime supplementation and not only in times of medical peril.” Since the Institutes of Medicine sets the upper limit at 4,000 IUs daily, you may want to schedule a visit with your MD before going above that.
Benefits of Vitamin D:
- Improve Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (Seasonal Depression)
- Protect Against Respiratory Infections
- Help Protect Against Heart Disease and Stroke
- Reduce the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes
- Play a Role in Reducing Cancer Death
- Help Prevent Cognitive Decline and Dementia
- Provide Relief for Symptoms of Autoimmune Conditions
- Boost Immunity Response
Are you Vitamin D deficient?
The National Institute of Health, suggests that there are a number of people who are at risk for low vitamin D levels. Among them are people who get limited exposure to sunlight, which is a large portion of the population. Older adults, individuals with dark skin and people with bigger bodies (whether overweight or obese) may be more likely to have low vitamin D levels. People with celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are also at greater risk. Where you live matters too. If you live in northern areas that get fewer days of sunlight, you’re more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
Finding out if your vitamin D levels are low involves a simple blood test. While it’s ideal to get tested, Hollis, says he assumes that everyone who walks through his door is Vitamin D deficient. If you’re not currently taking supplements, it’s a pretty safe bet your levels are low, he says.
Get checked out.