I’m sure by now everybody has heard of Vitamin D and how important it is for our overall health! If you haven’t, please crawl out from under that rock for a moment so I can bring you up to speed! Most people, I’m hoping, are even supplementing with it daily (or they should be). Vitamin D is actually a not a vitamin at all but is a pro-hormone, as it can be manufactured in our body when we are exposed to light. Herein is where our problems arise. We get very little sunshine into our tissues on a regular basis nowadays. Many of us live at a latitude which predisposes us to sub-par sun exposure on our skin (where all the Vitamin D magic starts), or we are slathering on sunscreen for protection against the damaging effects of the sun, (like producing Vitamin D to keep us healthy) which halts our vitamin D conversion!
It turns out that about 40% of the global population is deficient in Vitamin D and over 70% of Americans are either deficient or insufficient in their vitamin D levels. The sunlight we are exposed to daily is our primary source of vitamin D and since we get very little from our diets, if we are not receiving that exposure on our skin, you can imagine how important supplementation now becomes. A deficiency of Vitamin D (a serum vitamin D 25-OH level less than 20 ng/dl) is linked to many chronic diseases, cancers, poor bone health, autoimmune diseases, neurocognitive issues like depression, mood stability and Alzheimer’s disease. You can begin to see the importance of having adequate levels for our bodies to operate efficiently and without disease. We have a vitamin D receptor in nearly every single cell in our body and it is responsible for regulating over 3000 of our genes. So, you can understand the gravity of the situation. Unless you plan on sunbathing in the summer and taking vacations to sunbathe in the winter, your Vitamin D requirements might need some attention. I always tell my patients that they should know their vitamin D level. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (OK, pro-hormone) that needs to be monitored. As with any fat soluble vitamin, toxicity can be an issue (although Vitamin D has a very broad range level of safety).
Where do we start? With a simple blood draw, inexpensive, not routinely done with the normal CBC or CMP, but can easily be added by asking your doctor. The test is serum Vitamin D 25-OH, and is one of the more important numbers you should know.
I had a patient who was suffering from crippling agoraphobia (she felt it unsafe to leave her home). What stood out the most from her blood work results was that her vitamin D 25-OH level was in the single digits at 7ng/dl. Very shortly after supplementing with Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) she had no anxiety, depression or mood instabilities, and her words were, “she felt like herself again”!
Vitamin D is one of the supplements I tell every one of my patients they should be taking regularly for their health. How much you may ask? Dosage depends on your serum blood levels. If you are deficient or insufficient in your Vitamin D levels, work with a practitioner to help monitor it and set your dosing appropriately. That being said, a very safe dosage that you may immediately start supplementing with (until you can have your blood levels checked) is a summertime dose of 5,000 I.U.s and wintertime dose of 7-10,000 I.U.s of vitamin D3. Everyone should be supplementing with some amount of Vitamin D for better health. If you need your levels checked or dosage customized, give us a call and we’ll accommodate your needs.