There’s Never Been A More Important Winter to Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D

Did you know that Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin? It is actually a prohormone. Prohormones are substances the body converts to a hormone. In this case we only take in via food approximately 10% of our vitamin D needs. The body also makes vitamin D in a chemical reaction that occurs when sunlight hits the skin. This reaction produces cholecalciferol, and the liver converts it to calcidiol. The kidneys then convert the substance to calcitriol, which is the active form of the hormone in the body.

Vitamin D has its effects by binding to a protein (called the vitamin D receptor). This receptor is present in nearly every cell and affects many different body processes. Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins our bodies can make on their own. It still requires the processing by the liver and kidneys before it can be utilized.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin is not one compound, it made up of several different compounds that are related. Your skin produces a compound that is turned to Vitamin Dᴈ when skin is exposed to sunshine. There is another form found in dietary supplements which is almost identical to Vitamin Dᴈ. This is called Vitamin D2. These two have almost identical function in the body. Very few foods are rich in Vitamin D. As we talked about above it can be found in oily fish and shellfish. Egg yolks also contain some but in all these food sources, there’s not enough Vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements in normal portions.

How does Vitamin D work?

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium so that blood calcium levels are at the ideal point. This helps enable the mineralization of bone that is required for strong, healthy bones. That’s why many times Vitamin D will be included as part of the recommendation when taking calcium or magnesium for bone health, especially in people who are more at risk of Vitamin D shortages.

Secondly, Vitamin D boosts immune function and can be protective against the common winter flu and other respiratory illnesses. It is both anti-inflammatory and immune regulating and is crucial for the activation of the immune system when faced with pathogens.  Serum levels were found to be lowest during the winter months and supplementation reduced the incidence of the winter flu.

A lack of vitamin D has been linked to mood disorders such as depression. Studies have also shown that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to be obese. There are many factors to obesity so taking Vitamin D alone is not a cure all but sometimes when you don’t know what to do taking the next right step or one step at a time can be helpful.

As we talked about above Vitamin D does a multitude of good in the body. It prevents bone fractures by helping the body to absorb and retain calcium and phosphorous. Vitamin D may also help increase muscle strength. Some studies have shown that Vitamin D may inhibit the development of tumors and malignancies in the brain, colon, breast, and pancreas. The heart is specialized muscle that has receptors for Vitamin D. A study showed that people with a higher serum Vitamin D were less likely to have heart attacks compared with those that had low serum Vitamin D. Some studies found that Vitamin D may negatively affect the pathways that lead to Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

So what can you do to ensure that you and your family have enough Vitamin D?

An increased focus on protecting the skin from sun damage and a change from an outdoor lifestyle to an indoor lifestyle in recent generations has led to a serious problem with vitamin D deficiency in many developed parts of the world. Too little vitamin D means the bones will not be able to grow strong, leading to problems like rickets for children or osteoporosis for adults. Due to the weakening of bones, individuals with low vitamin D levels are more prone to falling. Low vitamin D levels can also cause a poorly functioning immune system, cardiovascular disease, depression, development of diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. It has also been linked to certain types of cancer.

As we spoke of before, not many foods have Vitamin D so you need to have another way to ensure that you are getting enough Vitamin D. But just how much vitamin D do you need and are you getting enough today? I had this same question for myself recently so I popped on over to Everlywell, found a coupon code online and had them send me a vitamin D test kit in the mail.

It was very simple to do as they sent me everything I need as well as detailed instructions. With the enclosed lancet I pricked my finger and put a few drops of blood on an absorbent card that I let dry. I then I sent it in via their mailing kit. Within a week I had my results. As you can see from the below I’m just in the adequate range. Now for me I was supplementing with 2,000 IU of vitamin D and I stopped for about a week prior to this test so I may have still had elevated levels from my supplementation. Since I was on the low end of the range, 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily in the winter when I’m not getting lots of sun should be sufficient but I may need more potentially up to 5,000 IU. I highly recommend testing before and after to confirm you’re getting enough vitamin D. Too much is not a good thing either and can be toxic and this is a good time to say that you should consult your doctor or nutritionist to make sure you’re doing the right amount of supplementation.

Even though people rarely struggle with dangerously high levels of vitamin D. If your body has too much of the vitamin it can also cause calcium levels in the blood to increase, causing hypercalcaemia. This condition can trigger confusion, depression, headaches, constipation, nausea, and feelings of thirst.

Vitamin D supplements for the whole family.

There are many Vitamin D formulations to choose from and some are more geared towards infants and toddlers while others are more suited for older people. We have a wide variety of Vitamin D supplements for you to choose from and we have the top supplements that our patients choose down below. We’ll start with babies, work our way to kids and then adults

Getting your Vitamin D and your fish oil at the same time can be a great option. Here are a few products that can help with that:

References

  1. Vitamin D prohormone in the treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism in patients with chronic kidney disease  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436758/
  2. Vitamin D: A Hormone for All Seasons – How much is enough? Understanding the New Pressures https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240026/
  3.  Boonen S, Lips P, Bouillon R, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Vanderschueren D, Haentjens P. Need for additional calcium to reduce the risk of hip fracture with vitamin D supplementation: evidence from a comparative metaanalysis of randomized controlled trials. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2007 Apr 1;92(4):1415-23
  4.  Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Staehelin HB, Orav JE, Stuck AE, Theiler R, Wong JB, Egli A, Kiel DP, Henschkowski J. Fall prevention with supplemental and active forms of vitamin D: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ. 2009 Oct 1;339:b3692
  5. Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Archives of internal medicine. 2008 Jun 9;168(11):1174-80.
  6.  Pittas AG, Dawson-Hughes B, Li T, Van Dam RM, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB. Vitamin D and calcium intake in relation to type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes care. 2006 Mar 1;29(3):650-6

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About the author

Chris Bowman is the COO of SimplyNutrients.com which is part of Dr. Jamy Antoine's Select Health Practice in Edina, Minnesota. Chris is passionate about helping people live healthier lives through using the best practices of nature, nutrition and medicine.

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