Vitamin D. Fall is upon us, and as one who has recently moved here, I will now get to experience the famous gray skies of Washington. Coming here from Southern California, and having lived in Arizona before that, I am finding myself welcoming the cold and wet weather as a chance to cool off. I have been made very much aware, however, that the lack of sunshine gets pretty serious.
Sunlight is nice for many reasons, but one thing in particular that is does for us when it strikes our skin is initiate a process in the body that creates Vitamin D. The less sunlight our skin is exposed to, the less Vitamin D our bodies can make.
Vitamin D is important for many reasons. For one thing, it allows the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the foods we eat. The body keeps calcium at very specific levels in the blood, so without Vitamin D to help absorb calcium, the body is forced to extract calcium from bones, thus weakening them. Because Vitamin D is so crucial to bone structure, getting adequate amounts is necessary in order to prevent osteomalacia in children as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis in the middle-aged and elderly.
Having strong bones is reason enough all by itself to make sure that we all have adequate amounts of Vitamin D, but having adequate Vitamin D levels also decreases risks of certain autoimmune diseases, cancers, depression and even mental disorders. In addition, it has been shown to correlate with better physical fitness. There is also reason to believe that low levels of Vitamin D may contribute to chronic pain.
It is clear that Vitamin D is crucial to our good health. So how can we be sure we are getting enough? Plenty of sunshine is one way, but as we know that can be difficult here. In fact, for those of us living in Washington during the winter, it might just be impossible.
People living in places on the globe that are above 37 degrees latitude do not get enough sunlight during the months from fall to spring to stimulate the production of adequate levels of Vitamin D. Seattle is at 47 and Whidbey Island is at 48 degrees latitude. Not only do we have the high latitude, but of course we also have gray skies during this time. We can be sure that we are not getting enough Vitamin D through sunlight during the fall through spring.
There are dietary sources of Vitamin D, including fortified foods, milk, fatty fish, Cod liver oil, egg yolks, and beef liver. For most of us, however, these sources are still not enough. To be sure that we are getting enough Vitamin D, especially during fall through spring, it is wise to supplement.
The best form of Vitamin D to supplement is D3, or cholecalciferol. Be aware, too, that it is possible to overdose if taking too high of a dose over too long a period of time. For most people, a daily Vitamin D3 supplement of 1,000 IUs for children and 2,000 IUs for adults is a good dose. There are, however, other factors such as intestinal absorption issues and other medical conditions as well as individual variations that give cause for certain individuals to supplement at different dosages, or not to supplement at all.
The best way to ensure optimum Vitamin D status is to talk to your doctor and have your levels tested. At the Reboot Center for Innovative Medicine, we customize care for each of our patients based on a myriad of individualized factors, whether for a Vitamin D related condition or any other health concern. If you have further questions about Vitamin D or any other health issue, please don’t hesitate to give us a call and schedule an appointment.
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