As fall and winter approach, daylight hours get shorter, weather gets grayer, and Vitamin D levels plummet…
Have you seen all the articles about Vitamin D in the news lately? New studies come out each year touting more and more of the benefits of Vitamin D. So why care about Vitamin D deficiency?
Recent studies show increasing evidence that many people living in the northern hemisphere may be Vitamin D deficient. Are you getting enough Vitamin D? How can you find out? And why is Vitamin D so important?
What is Vitamin D Anyway?
Well, for starters, it’s only recently been discovered that it’s not actually a vitamin! According to research sited by Dr. Perlmutter in the Grain Brain, “Vitamin D is actually a critically important fat-soluble antioxidant that acts like a steroid or a hormone in the brain.”
It’s long been known that the skin produces Vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is also found in fortified dairy products, and a few other foods, but it is generally hard to get enough Vitamin D from food alone.
Why is Vitamin D So Important?
Most people know that having healthy levels of Vitamin D prevents Rickets and helps build strong, healthy bones. But did you know that a variety of studies on PubMed have shown Vitamin D also helps:
- Boost your immune system
- Fight off cancer cells
- Promote a healthy libido
- Protect the brain from dementia
- Aid in the prevention of heart disease, depression, osteoporosis, Multiple Sclerosis and possibly even Autism
Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
Chances are you’re not… The abundance of sunscreen use in the past 30-years has significantly reduced the amount of Vitamin D that people can produce through their skin. Plus, sunscreen aside, most of the northern hemisphere doesn’t get enough sunlight for most of the year for your skin to create much Vitamin D. This includes everywhere north of Latitude 20° N., (or north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Hawaii, Cuba, North Africa, and Thailand.) So basically all of the United States, Canada and Europe doesn’t ever get enough sunlight for your skin to manufacture enough vitamin D to keep you healthy, even in the summer! And after age 50 your body produces much less Vitamin D even with optimal sun exposure.
According to the National Institute of Cancer, over 80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. And according to WebMd, people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 30 are usually vitamin D deficient. Don’t know your BMI? You can calculate it with this BMI calculator.
So How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
So I recommend having your doctor test you for Vitamin D deficiency. I was tested a few years ago and was shocked to find out I was extremely deficient. But I guess it made sense, being a vegan living in the Pacific Northwest where we don’t get much sun. 🙂
USDA guidelines for adults recommends 600 IU per day. The government is currently looking at increasing that number to 1,000 IU per day with a high-end limit of 4,000 IU per day. But many doctors and scientists think the USDA guidelines are still too low. Dr. Andrew Weil states on his website: “No adverse effects have been seen with supplemental vitamin D intakes up to 10,000 IU daily.”
I personally think the benefits of Vitamin D are so important, I take 10,000 IU per day of Vitamin D3 as recommended by my Naturopath. I’ve recently had my vitamin D levels tested, and even living in Mexico for three years, and taking 10,000 IU daily, my levels are still at the low end of normal.
Unfortunately, some MDs who haven’t had much nutrition training may balk at this amount. One friend recently had her MD tell her she’d go into a coma if she took 10,000 IU. This is NOT true! Do your own research on pubmed.gov, and you’ll see it is very hard to get too much vitamin D if you live in the northern hemisphere.
Do yourself and your body a favor, and get your Vitamin D levels tested today. Then bone-up on your Vitamin D supplements if you are deficient.
Please leave a comment to let us know your experience with Vitamin D. Have you been tested? How were your levels? Did supplements help?