It’s summer and most of us associate vitamin D with the sun. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the overall prevalence rate of vitamin D deficiency is 41.6%, with the highest rate seen in blacks (82.1%), followed by Hispanics (69.2%). Why do you need vitamin D. Vitamin D is key in absorbing calcium to maintain bone health and strengthen your bones. It also helps support a healthy brain, heart, teeth and lungs. It keeps your immune system strong and can help regulate insulin levels. It also keeps your energy levels up and enhances your mood. And these days, I think we could all benefit from having a “good mood”. What are three things you need to know about Vitamin D – we need exposure to the sun, it’s fat soluble and has health consequences if chronically low.
Sunscreen and wearing long sleeves following skin cancer prevention campaigns sabotaged us in terms of Vitamin D. As soon as you apply sunscreen, your body basically no longer absorbs vitamin D. And covering up in long sleeve shirts, hats, and other clothing items blocks the absorption as well. You can safely get sun exposure – get outside early morning or later afternoon. Just make sure to not cover up! But if you do wear sunscreen, pick a good one. Go to EWG’s sunscreen database to evaluate the safety and efficacy of SPF-rated products.
Vitamin D is fat soluble so eat some healthy fat at each meal. The myth of “eating fat makes you fat” was a huge contributor to the no-fat fad! But without a healthy fat, your body will not absorb vitamins A, D, K, and E. So don’t be afraid to have a small serving of a healthy fat at each meal.
Newer studies suggest low levels of vitamin D can be linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, pain in your muscles and bones, multiple sclerosis and even some types of cancer. Additionally, according to the NIH, Vitamin D deficiency has been found to be associated with mortality and several diseases ranging from cardiovascular disease to autoimmune diseases and liver diseases. The subtle symptoms of low Vit D include: tiredness, bone and joint pain, sour mood, more frequent illness, anxiety, weight gain, and hair loss.
I don’t recommend a lot of supplements but vitamin D is one I do. Just make sure you know what you’re buying as all supplements aren’t created equal. The Institute of Medicine recommends that people get at a minimum 200-600 IU’s of vitamin D daily.
For more information on this or what foods are high in vitamin D or other health concerns, contact me.