Now that the days are getting shorter and we are spending less time outside, let’s have a quick chat about Vitamin D. Did you know that Vitamin deficiency is becoming rampant and that more and more research is linking deficiency of Vitamin D to increased incidence of many diseases, including cancer?
Think about this: More than 50% of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
And Vitamin D deficiency is linked to muscle weakness, osteoporosis, tooth decay and cavities, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, depression, diabetes, and even obesity.
So, why aren’t we talking more about Vitamin D?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble prohormones that is essential for proper mineral absorption and metabolism. It is different from many other vitamins as it can be synthesized by our bodies as we are exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D3 can be obtained by adequate sun exposure, dietary sources, or by oral supplementation
6 Reasons to Get Enough Vitamin D
- Vitamin D is crucial to a strong immune system. It is an essential component in the creation and function of “T-Cells” which protect your body against bacteria and disease. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risk of viral infections.
- Vitamin D may reduce your risk for cancer. Research is now estimating that 75% of cancers can be prevented by adequate consumption of Vitamin D.
- Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to inflammation in the body.
Studies have shown that people with Vitamin D deficiency have increased concentrations of serum TNF-α, an inflammatory marker. This could explain the vitamin’s role in the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis.
- Vitamin D is essential for bone growth and development. I’m sure most of you have heard of rickets, a childhood bone disorder where bones get soft, brittle, and deformed. One of the main causes of rickets is Vitamin D deficiency. Our bodies need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium from the intestines. If we do not have enough Vitamin D in our system, we do not absorb calcium, which leads to hypocalcemia, which lead to bone and teeth deformities. Vitamin D helps prevent rickets and osteoporosis by aiding in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous.
- Vitamin D deficiency is linked to an increased rate of respiratory disease, especially in children. Research has shown Vitamin D supplementation to be effective in the prevention and reduction in pulmonary disease.
- Vitamin D can protect you from getting the flu. Research shows that children taking 1,200 IU’s of vitamin D3 per day were shown to be 42 percent less likely to contract influenza, compared to children taking a placebo. Now doesn’t that beat the questionable risks of taking a flu shot? Many also speculate that Vitamin D deficiency is an underlying cause of the flu. Taking larger doses of Vitamin D for 3 days may be beneficial in lessening the duration of the flu. Be sure to do this for a maximum of 3 days.
Risk Factors for Vitamin Deficiency
- Dark Skin: The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure, making people with dark skin more at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
- Obesity: The amount of circulating Vitamin D is altered by fat cells as they draw Vitamin D out of the blood. People with higher body mass indexes (BMI) are at a greater risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
- Digestive Disease: Diseases like Crohn’s, IBS, Celiac, and Cystic Fibrosis all can inhibit the absorption on Vitamin D in the intestinal tract, leading to Vitamin D deficiency. My guess is the altered gut flora would do the same.
- Vegetarian Diet: The best food sources for Vitamin D are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver. Diets lacking in these REAL food essentials can increase your risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
- Lack of Sunshine: Lack of exposure to sunshine can increase your risk of Vitamin D deficiency as out bodies are intended to use sunshine to synthesize adequate amounts of Vitamin D. If you spend most of your time indoors, you are at risk for Vitamin D deficiency.
- Age: As we age, our skin is less effective at synthesizing Vitamin D and, as we age, our kidneys are less efficient at converting Vitamin D into it’s active form.
How to Get Enough Vitamin D
Get adequate exposure to sunshine. With our sunscreen obsessed culture, many of our bodies get exposed to the health benefits of good old sunshine. I’m not talking about sunbathing for hours here. Just let the sun warm your skin and soak up some of that natural Vitamin D. Dietary changes like reducing Omega-6 oils like canola, cottonseed, vegetable, soybean, etc., as they cause inflammation and are associated with an increased incidence of skin cancer and other cancers. Replace them with healthy saturated, monounsaturated, and Omega-3 oils instead to increase your skins ability to tolerate sun and to reduce burning.
Eat foods rich in Vitamin D. The best food sources of Vitamin D are lard, pasture-raised pork and bacon, wild salmon, egg yolks from pastured chickens, fish roe/caviar, sardines, oysters, beef liver, and shiitaki mushrooms. Check out my recipe for Slow Cooker Ginger Apple Pork.
Get your Vitamin D blood levels checked. If you are deficient in Vitamin D, find a good quality supplement to raise your levels to optimal range. Dr. Mercola recommends a level of 50-70 ng/ml. Be sure that your health care provider is using the right test, which is measuring your Vitamin D3 levels, called 25(OH)D. And be sure that if you are taking a supplement that you are taking Vitamin D3 (not Vitamin D2), as Vitamin D3 is the type of vitamin D your body produces in response to sun exposure.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU per day. However, both the Weston A. Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola recommend around 5,000 IU per day. To read more about how much Vitamin D we really need, read THIS.
Vitamin D Supplements
Cod Liver Oil:
My #1 favorite Vitamin D supplement. Cod liver oil is a cold-processed cod oil made from cod livers. The process allows the oil to be separated from the livers without damaging the vitamin or polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega 3/EPA/DHA) content of the oil. This oil is then gently purified, bottled or placed into capsules. Cod liver oil is naturally rich in fat-soluble Vitamin D, A, E, and K2, and when taken in fermented form, is much more bioavaliable and absorbed by the body.
Here are some general recommendations for dosage from the manufacturer of the fermented cod liver oil: (please consult your primary care provider before starting a new health regimen)
Cod Liver Oil
Children age 3 months to 12 years: 1/8-1/2 tsp
Children over 12 years and adults: 1/2-1 tsp
Pregnant and nursing women: 1-2 tsp
I do not recommend using regular cod liver oils as they are highly processed and contain synthetic Vitamin D and A in the wrong proportions.
Liquid Vitamin D Drops:
If fermented cod liver oil is not an option for you, there are liquid Vitamin D drops in an olive oil base available. Like I said before, be sure to choose a Vitamin D3 supplement. A good concentrations is 2000IU per drop for adults or 400IU per drop for infants and small children.
THIS is the Vitamin D that I use.
Do you take Vitamin D supplements?
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