It’s Time to Shed Some Light on Vitamin D
By Dr. Molly Casey
Vitamins are organic compounds that the body needs in small amounts for optimal function. Most vitamins are consumed through food because the body does not produce them or does so in minimal amounts. There are some vitamins that assist the body in a wide range of functions but people commonly have low levels in their system. Vitamin D is one of those vitamins.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver and fat tissue. The body does make this vitamin when it has ample amounts of sunlight. Vitamin D assists in numerous functions within the body including, but not limited to, the following.
Bone health - Vitamin D helps aid in calcium absorption into the bones and the absorption of Vitamin K, which is directly responsible for bone mineralization
Immune system - It helps with regulation of white blood cells in their fight against viruses decreasing the reproduction of virus cells and slowing tissue damage
Prevention of depression - It’s used in helping keep mood up and it shows to help in treating the winter blues, aka seasonal affective disorder.
Vitamin D deficiency is common, likely as a result of two main factors. First, sunlight is required for the body to synthesize it and, frankly, time outside for most folks is far more limited than ever before. Second, most diets are not of high quality, full of processed foods, and Vitamin D is not present.
Deficiencies are commonly seen with disorders or symptoms listed below, along with numerous others:
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Chronic inflammation
- Autoimmune diseases
- Heart disease and high blood pressure
- Chronic bone and muscle pain
Optimal Levels and Supplementation
There is a difference between minimal levels and optimal levels of any substance. Although many doctors and laboratories will say normal/acceptable levels of Vitamin D is between 30-100 ng/mL, this is distinctly different from what is needed for optimal level of functioning. Science and doctors looking at optimal levels of functioning agree on ideal levels of Vitamin D being between 70-100 ng/ML.
Increasing sun exposure without sunscreen for 15 minutes on a daily basis can certainly help increase production. Natural supplementation is often required to boost levels. Vitamin D is found in two forms, D2 and D3; the latter is the more active form and most closely associated to that which the body produces when it has ample sunlight. Thus, Vitamin D3 is ideal for supplementation if it’s required.
It’s wisest before supplementing to first have Vitamin D levels checked via a blood test to see where your current levels are. While the USDA recommends 600 IU of supplementation, daily basic supplementation levels of a minimum of 5,000 IU daily seems to be more effective. Numerous functional medicine and naturopathic doctors supplement with much higher levels depending on what is going on for specific patients. At 5,000 IU it is a safe daily dose.
Sometimes our bodies need help with supplementation. There is just no way to escape that truth with where the world is at with health and wellness. That is OK. Vitamin D is a good place to start when looking at basic vitamins that help a lot of different functions and can dramatically improve your experience of health.
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