This time of year, it is particularly important to supplement with Vitamin D. Why? First, let’s talk about what vitamin D is, what it does, the current norm and how we can get it naturally. This will help us to understand if and when we need to supplement.
1) So what is Vitamin D and what does it do?
Vitamin D is a profoundly important nutrient that provides a vast array of health benefits. With its many uses in the body; it’s actually more like a hormone. Over 3,000 genes that we know of are symbiotically using Vitamin D to ensure their proper function.
Dr. Robert Heaney, a professor and a prolific researcher in the field, has studied osteoporosis, vitamin D, and calcium physiology for over 50 years. Trained as a physician and endocrinologist, he has been working at the Creighton University’s Osteoporosis Research Center since the late 1960s. The research center he founded has a focus on bone biology.
According to Dr. Heaney, Vitamin D is an inevitable topic when it comes to bone health. He explains Vitamin D is involved in the biochemical cellular machinery of all cells and tissues in your body. When you don’t have enough, that “machinery” does not work very well. Consequently, your entire body struggles to operate as programmed by our genomes.
Vitamin D is also vital to our immune systems. Low levels of Vitamin D put us at a higher risk for illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, depression, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, bacterial and viral infections like colds and flu’s.
There is even a direct link between optimal vitamin D levels and reduced risk of cancer. Optimal vitamin D levels can lower your risk of cancer by as much as 60%.
Studies show that keeping your levels optimized can help prevent at least 16 different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers. Moreover, vitamin D can build your defenses against cancer and other diseases by:
- Enhancing the self-destruction of mutated cells (which can replicate and cause cancer)
- Slowing down the production and spread of cancer cells
- Reducing the risk of other conditions, including type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness), and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Exhibiting its infection-fighting abilities in the treatment of tuberculosis, pneumonia, colds, and flu.
- Improving seizure control in epileptics.
2) How do we get Vitamin D naturally?
From the sun, right? Our bodies synthesize Vitamin D from exposure to UVB rays from the sun. However, UVB rays only make it to us when the sun is above the horizon by 35 degrees.
For those lucky enough to live in San Jose, Santa Clara, or anywhere in the Bay Area, we have a natural source of vitamin D and we can synthesize it via sun exposure almost year-round. BUT, in January the window is only from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm. This is also dependent on the weather, cloud cover and rain.
Though it is more difficult to measure how much Vitamin D you intake from foods as the food’s nutritional value is dependent on quality, there are some food sources where you can also obtain small amounts of Vitamin D, including:
- Fatty Fish (Salmon, herring, tuna)
- Egg yolk
- Beef Liver
- Cod Liver Oil
3) Why are Vitamin D levels commonly low?
It is estimated that over 80% of people have insufficient levels of vitamin D and many are unaware of their deficient state. While conventional media and medicine promote sun avoidance, doing so can actually put your health in grave danger and cause vitamin D deficiency.
January marks the peak of winter, meaning the shortest days of the year and the longest time away from Summer. This is partly why so many Americans are Vitamin D deficient and why it is so important to supplement during the winter.
So the big question is, do YOU still need to supplement to get the benefits of Vitamin D?
The answer: That depends.
- Are you getting outside every day, and exposing majority of your skin to the sun between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm?
- Or are you, like most of us, inside and at work or school?
- Where are you located? Does the angle of the sun in that region allow the UVB rays to reach you at all times of the year?
- Clothing stops our bodies’ ability to soak in those UVB rays.
- Is your skin type more or less able to synthesize Vitamin D?
- People with different complexions have different rates of Vitamin D synthesis. The darker your complexion, the slower you synthesize Vitamin D, and the more sun exposure you need. The lighter your complexion, the faster you synthesize.
- How old are you?
- As we age, our body’s synthesis ability slows down. By the time we are 50, it takes 2x as long as it did when we were kids.
In reality, most of us still need to supplement Vitamin D to keep our levels in the optimal range and reap its benefits such as having a stronger immune system, more efficient blood sugar regulation, increased dental health, increased bone health, increased cardiovascular health, and better weight control.
4) How much Vitamin D do we need?
Experts agree that adults need to supplement with about 5,000 IU’s and children need about 3,000 IU’s per day coupled with Vitamin K to help synergize and to maintain healthy levels.
At Platinum Chiropractic we carry the highest quality Vitamin D supplement in both liquid and soft gels. It is coupled with both vitamin K, specifically K2, and MK-7 since they work better synergistically. Vitamins D and K are essential for optimal bone and blood vessel health and for maintaining the immune system in proper balance.
So get up, get in the sun today, and pick up your vitamin D at your next office visit!