Our bodies need the active form of vitamin D in order to support all aspects of our health. Vitamin D plays a significant role in osteoporosis and osteomalacia (softening of your bones). Over 33,000 scientific studies have been published on how Vitamin D supports our overall health and prevention of disease. Vitamin D is vital in supporting cellular growth and development, sleep patterns, carbohydrate and fat metabolisms, neurological and brain health, hearing, vision, blood pressure, athletic performance, and much more. In fact, research supports that Vitamin D affects nearly every cell and tissue in our bodies.
Do We Naturally Make Vitamin D With Exposure to Sunlight?
Yes, our skin naturally makes Vitamin D and research supports that it is the most beneficial form of vitamin D. We make vitamin D by exposing large parts of our bodies (face, arms, and legs) to direct sunlight with the sun at it’s highest point. It is believed that we must expose our skin to bright, mid-day sunlight for 20-30 minutes per day in order to reach optimal levels of Vitamin D. However, research has found that even in the summer months for those living above the 40th Parallel there is not sufficient sunlight with UVB rays for our skin to produce sufficient Vitamin D. Multiple studies have concluded that 70-90% of the population living above the 40th parallel are deficient in Vitamin D levels.
How much Vitamin D do I Need?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that in order to maintain serum levels of 20 ng/mL of vitamin D3 most individuals would have to consume 600 international units of Vitamin D3. However, most vitamin D researchers agree that serum Vitamin D3 levels for optimal health and prevention of disease are 40-60 ng/mL. Depending on the individual, it is recommended that in order to raise your level from 20 ng/mL to 40 ng/mL one would have to consume 5,000 IUs of Vitamin D3. Sources of vitamin D3 in our foods are fatty fish such as tuna, wild caught salmon, fish liver oil, pasture raised egg yolk, and products from raw whole milk. Consuming large quantities of said foods will not correct a deficiency and may prove very challenging to contain 5000 iu of Vitamin D3. It is imperative to recognize that different organizations recommend different daily intakes and upper limits of daily intake.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Symptoms are subtle and easy to overlook. While this list is not all inclusive, the most common symptoms are general aches and pains, bone pain, depression, chronic pain, excessive sweating, heart disease, high blood pressure, fatigue, restless sleep, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, infertility and 17 varieties of cancer have been linked with Vitamin D Deficiency. In fact, look at the chart below on reduction of risk related to serum levels of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D.
Should Everyone Take Vitamin D supplements?
There are few contraindications to taking Vitamin D. Those individuals taking medications such as Digoxin for atrial fibrulation, or diuretics for high blood pressure, hyperparathyroidism, Hodkin’s or Non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma, kidney stones, high blood calcium levels, kidney and liver disease, or hormonal disease should consult their prescribing physician prior to supplementing with high doses of Vitamin D.
What Do I Do for My Family?
Proper levels of Vitamin D3 are essential for overall health and prevention of disease. However, high levels of Vitamin D3 can be toxic for our system. Toxicity levels of Vitamin D3 are defined as 120 ng/mL. It has been estimated that in order to reach a toxic level of serum Vitamin D, an individual would have to consume 40,000 iu for over 4 months. The best approach is to get tested for your levels of serum 25 (OH)D.
Since we live in the Pacific Northwest and cannot get vitamin D synthesis from sunlight, we supplement with Metagenics Vitamin D3 Liquid. Each drop contains 1000 iu of Vitamin D3. I recommend the drops because you can customize the dosage to conditions. During November-March my wife and I supplement with 3000-5000 iu. From April to October we supplement with 1000-3000 iu depending on the amount of sunlight. I strongly advise the Active Living Chiropractic family to get tested and supplement as needed. Each bottle of the Metagenics Vitamin D3 liquid contains approximately 2,275 drops and costs $23.95. Since each bottle lasts approximately one year, I believe it is a small investment with significant reduction in risk for many chronic conditions and cancers. Should you have any questions, please contact me via e-mail or call our office.
-Dr. Bermudez CCSP