Vitamin D: Do you know if you are getting enough?
By Michelle Sala, Integrative Health Coach
When we think of Vitamin D we think of it as being the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can make its own vitamin D from sunlight exposure. Many of us who live in states like Hawaii, Florida, Arizona, and California think we get plenty exposure to the sun and therefore have plenty of vitamin D stores. According to WebMd, it is estimated that 40%-70% of us are deficient. For years we’ve been told the sun’s rays are evil and to coverup and slather ourselves with hormone disrupting sunscreen, but that’s another story… We can’t win! So, what’s really the truth about how much vitamin D we have, how much we need, and how to get enough safely?
What is Vitamin D?
First off, let’s talk about what vitamin D does for us. Vitamin D is a hormone, not a vitamin. Having an adequate amount of vitamin D is important for strong bones, proper organ function, healthy immune response, and anti-cancer protection. There also seems to be a connection with low vitamin D levels and diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and auto-immune conditions.
How do you know if you have enough Vitamin D?
The lab test for measuring vitamin D is called 25-hydroxy- Vitamin D. It is measured in nanograms per milliliter, “ng/mL” for short. Depending on the lab, “normal” range is 20 – 40 ng/mL. However, an article from Harvard Health Publishing recommends a minimum of 30 ng/mL. Many experts in the Functional Medicine world recommend higher levels for optimal health, in the range of 60 to 80 ng/mL.
Vitamin D deficiency symptoms
Rickets is probably the most well-known vitamin D deficiency condition, which occurs extremely rarely in developed nations because fortified processed food usually meet minimum vitamin D requirements. At < 30 ng/mL, there is an increase risk of bone loss, diabetes, auto-immune conditions, allergies, inflammation, depression, and more.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means it can build up and be stored in your body tissue. The more fat you have, the more vitamin D you may need because, in effect, the vitamin D is diluted in your fat. A body mass index greater than 30 is associated with lower vitamin D levels.
There is much controversy on how much to supplement. Commercial multi-vitamins never have enough vitamin D to help with vitamin D deficiencies, other than maybe preventing rickets.
How do you get enough Vitamin D?
If you are not exposing 60% of your body to the sun for 15 minutes a day several times a week, then most likely you don’t have enough vitamin D. It is difficult to get vitamin D from dietary sources as very few foods contain vitamin D. While almost all conventionally produce dairy is fortified with vitamin D, I do not recommend this as an ideal source for many reasons that I will not get into here. The best food sources may be egg yolks, beef liver, mushrooms and fatty fish (salmon, sardines), but I would not rely on these foods to meet your vitamin D requirements.
Vitamin D3 should be taken with vitamins A and K2 to ensure adequate absorption of vitamin D. These nutrients work synergistically. As I’ve increased my knowledge of nutrient supplementation, I’ve come to realize that most standalone nutrients/vitamins are useless.
Testing for Vitamin D
Unfortunately, most insurance companies, as well as Medicare, do not seem to see the value of testing vitamin D levels and therefore most of us are in the dark of our vitamin D status. I am now able to offer my clients low cost lab testing through LabCorp. LabCorp has offices nationwide. If you would like to know your vitamin D level, you can have it done through me for $40. Once you get your results, you will be eligible for 20% off Systemic Formulas DV3 supplement which contains the proper forms of vitamins D, A and K2 for optimal utilization.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for labs or for more information.
Disclaimer: Please note that these recommendations are based on my personal opinions which have been formed by my own research and are not meant to be a diagnosis or a replacement for any current treatment you and your health care providers have deemed necessary. Any changes you make in your supplementation or diet are the sole responsibility of you and your health care providers, should you choose to follow these recommendations.