It is estimated that a whopping 1 Billion people in the world are deficient in Vitamin-D.
Vitamin D! The sunshine vitamin, the vitamin that is touted as the “Holy Grail” of cancer prevention, the vitamin responsible for:
strong bones and teeth
prevention of osteoporosis
And the vitamin, that according to Dennis Mangan, Ph.D from the National Institute of Health has proven more powerful in preventing cancer than quitting smoking.
… how can that be that we are all deficient!
Surely we are not all living in igloos and devoid of sunlight 365 days a year!
No, turns out that is not the case.
So what is going on?
What do you need to know about Vitamin D, and should you be supplementing?
What does Vitamin-D do?
Vitamin D is perhaps one of the most important vitamins, it is strongly linked to:
- Skin health,
- Anti aging,
- Brain health,
- Bone health.
It is attributed to a beautiful tanned glow, rosy cheeks, clear skin, and has been proven as one of the best tools in treating psoriasis and some cases of eczema.
Vitamin-D also provides us with essential antioxidants which slow the signs of aging and protect our cells from free radical damage.
It is a bit of a warrior in your arsenal for health.
Why is there such a high deficiency rate?
Up to 80% of the population in the united states is thought to be deficient in Vitamin D – and yes that includes Hawaii State residents. Even the sunniest state is not immune to this epidemic.
To start with Vitamin-D is a funny thing because it isn’t something we consume, it is something that our bodies make. Foods can be fortified with Vitamin D, but that is not the ideal way to get it.
The ideal way is to make it.
In simple terms, when our bodies are exposed to sunshine, the oil in our skin (sebum) takes sunlight and sends it to the bacteria in our gut, which turns it into Vitamin-D.
Essentially the bacteria in our gut poops out little Vitamin-D pills for us.
That’s an elementary explanation, but for now, it will suffice.
So what in this process is broken and causing deficiency? Well, it there are a few things …
1) Too many showers & harsh soaps
The oil in your skin is there for a reason. It lubricates your skin, protects it from harmful bacteria, makes you waterproof, and is a natural sunscreen.
Regularly washing with harsh soaps (and soaps that are not PH balanced) strips your skin of its “acid mantle.”
* If you have ever felt tight dry skin after washing it means your acid mantle is gone and your body will go into overdrive to produce more oil for the next half an hour. This is why stripping all the oil from your skin is not an effective way to treat acne, your body will actually fight to produce more.
2) Foods with preservatives & antibiotics.
Vitamin-D is, in part, synthesized by healthy bacteria in our guts. Antibiotics and preservatives are designed to kill these friendly little guys.
When we want food to have a long shelf life, we do it by making sure bacteria can’t survive on it. Therefore when you eat these preservatives, you kill the very things that are trying to help you.
Taking a probiotic can be a wonderful way to combat this, but you really need to avoid processed food.
3) Not getting enough calcium or K2
Vitamin-D (as with most things) plays better with friends. Calcium and K2 help you absorb and use vitamin-D.
But when you hear calcium, please don’t think of milk.
America currently has one of the highest consumption rates of dairy products and one of the highest rates of Osteoporosis. Hmm, it seems milk doesn’t make your bones stronger …
A much better source of calcium is dark green leafy vegetables gently cooked.
** Note: Do not trust blood tests for calcium levels. If you take a blood test and it says your levels of calcium are fine, then it may not have be the whole truth.
Calcium is a mineral used to alkalize the body. When your body becomes too acidic, from things like stress or dairy products, your body will create a process that leaches calcium from your bones to bring you to a more alkaline state. This means that your blood test may show a normal level of calcium but your bones are telling a different story. A bone density test is far more efficient and truthful.
Do you have signs of Vitamin D deficiency?
There are many signs of Vitamin-D deficiency which include:
- aches and pains
- weak bones
- brittle hair
- skin rashes
- type II Diabetes
- No symptoms at all.
Sound like everyone you know? Or maybe yourself?
So, what is the best thing to do? Get tested.
You can ask for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test – 25 OH D.
Don’t worry if you don’t know what that is your Doctor will (and if they don’t you should find a new one!)
Should you supplement?
In short, yes. However, Vitamin-D is something that you can get too much of.
Toxicity can occur if taken in excess of 1000-1,500 IU daily for a month or longer so make sure to check your levels with your Doctor to see where you’re starting from and how much you need to supplement with.
Not only will testing help you determine how much you need, but it will also prevent you wasting money on excessive supplementation.
What are some good food sources of Vitamin D?
Vitamin-D can come from plant or animal foods. It is found in:
- Mushrooms (if they have been exposed to sunlight)
- Cod liver oil
- And of course the sunshine.
Vitamin D should be obtained through direct (but gentle) sunshine.
This does not permit you to go to a tanning bed, but the average caucasian person needs 10 minutes of direct sunlight all over the body to synthesize enough Vitamin D. The darker your skin, the more sunshine you will need.
The healthiest time for sunshine is between sunrise, and 10 am.
Bonus points: Direct sun exposure first thing in the morning followed by a cold shower has been shown to boost weight loss dramatically.
The bottom line is that you should probably be supplementing with vitamin-D, calcium, and K2. It is a great idea to get your levels tested, and this is a certainly a vitamin to pay attention to!
Remember, food, sunshine, and supplement.