Many Americans believe they are not at risk for Vitamin D deficiency because they eat D-fortified foods. These foods do not contain enough Vitamin D to benefit your health. Vitamin D is not a regular vitamin, but a steroid hormone you obtain through sun exposure, not diet.
After the year 2000, technology to measure vitamin D became widely available and inexpensive. The CDC reports that 32% of children and adults in the US are vitamin D deficient, and 50% of the population is at risk of deficiency. Deficiency is high in adults who regularly wear sunblock or are not outdoors. People with increased skin pigment and the elderly are also at risk. Over 95% of senior citizens could be deficient, not only being indoors most of the time, but their bodies respond to sun exposure by producing less vitamin D.
Signs that you could be vitamin D deficient include:
- Having darker skin – You need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce enough vitamin D. Skin pigment acts as natural sunscreen.
- Feeling Blue – Those with lowest levels of vitamin D tend to be depressed
- Age 50 or older – Your skin doesn’t produce as much vitamin D as you age
- Overweight – Body fat collects vitamin D, so you will need more than a slimmer person.
- Achy bones – In combination with fatigue, this could be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia.
- Head sweating – One of the first classic signs of deficiency is a sweaty head.
- Gut trouble – If you already have a gastrointestinal condition, you may find it difficult to absorb fat-soluble vitamin D.
Increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent chronic diseases and cut in half the risk of certain cancers (i.e. breast cancer, prostate cancer). Vitamin D also fights infections. Optimizing your vitamin D levels can protect against:
- Cardiovascular disease – Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of heart attack by 50%.
- Autoimmune diseases – Vitamin D is an immune regulator.
- Infections including influenza – It is less expensive and more effective to optimize vitamin D than getting the flu vaccine.
- DNA repair and metabolic processes – Vitamin D improves DNA repair and has effect on autoxidation, which boosts your immune system and other biological processes.
The optimal range for health benefits is 50 to 70 ng/ml of vitamin D. Sun exposure is the best way to get vitamin D. The time required would be half the time it takes to get a mild sunburn. If you are unable to get out in the sun every day, a tanning bed is also a good option. Make sure it is a bed with electronic ballasts, NOT the magnetic ballasts which can cause cancer. The last resort to getting enough vitamin D is taking a supplement. An adult needs 8,000 IUs per day. Be sure to boost your consumption of vitamin K2 through food as well.
It is important to have your vitamin D levels tested twice a year, once at the highest level (summer) and once at the lowest level (winter). If you would like to have your levels tested at home, consider joining the D*Action Project. Researchers want to demonstrate the importance of vitamin D by combining measurement and health outcome tracking. This is a five-year study, and your results will be shared to demonstrate the impact of vitamin D on public health. The participation fee is $65 every six months, including a test kit. Vitamin D deficiency can turn from being treated to being prevented.
Mercola MD, Joseph. “7 Signs You May Have a Vitamin D Deficiency.” Health. Mercola.com, 28 May 2014. Web. 18 Nov 2014.