Not just for bones. Why does vitamin D matter?
Almost 1 billion people on the planet have inadequate levels of vitamin D. And this has big implications especially as we learn more fully the very important role vitamin D plays in health.
It’s not just a bone builder, but also acts like a hormone in the body turning on 200 different genes. Vitamin D deficiency can be related to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and brain health.
And because of vitamin D’s role in regulating the immune system, it potentially is playing a significant part in auto-immunity.
In short, this is one important vitamin!
But, how to know if you’re low?
If you’re dealing with any of the chronic issues mentioned above, it’s worth getting your vitamin D levels checked. Because vitamin D’s effect is so far reaching, I often run levels as a matter of routine.
In addition, any of the below could indicate a deficiency:
- Muscle weakness
- Easily broken bones, fractures or osteopenia
- Chronic pain
- Mood changes or feeling blue
To get tested, you’ll want to request a 25-OH vitamin D blood test. I like to see levels in an ideal range of 50-80 ng/mL. Together with your health care practitioner, you can come to a plan to monitor and replete levels.
To maintain optimal levels, there are a few things you can do:
- Responsible sun exposure. We get very little vitamin D from food. Instead it’s made in the skin through exposure to sunlight. Exposing your bare skin to the sun for at least 15 minutes will help increase levels.
- Love on your liver. Vitamin D is activated by the liver and although there is no conclusive evidence to totally explain the rampant prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, clinicians are starting to suggest that it may be linked to pesticide exposure affecting vitamin D metabolism. My favorite liver foods to include are: avocado, dark leafy greens and turmeric.
- Supplement: there are two choices in terms of vitamin D supplementation: D2 or D3. You want D3. Too, because it’s fat soluble, you want to ingest vitamin D with a little fat to get the best absorption.
- Recheck levels every 6-12 months: having too much vitamin D is pretty rare, but you want to be sure you’re aren’t over doing it. Symptoms to look out for of too much vitamin D are: metallic taste in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, weakness and frequent urination.
Hope that helps clarify any questions you may have had about vitamin D!
Sending my best,
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