More and more we’re hearing about Vitamin D and it’s links to this and this disease as if it’s the new miracle cure. Is it really that big of a deal? Is it really anymore important than other vitamins?
It's a very big deal, actually. Vitamin D is actually a hormone and it influences your entire body. See below for some of the most important factors Vitamin D influences.
It has been called the "Sunshine Vitamin" as our bodies produce Vitamin D when we are exposed to the sun, sans-sunscreen, for 10-20 minutes. However, because of our current culture of working long hours indoors and spending too much time watching TV on the couch, because of our fear of skin cancers related to overexposure to the sun, and because many of us in the U.S. live in areas that have limited hours of sunlight, especially those in the Northeast in the winter months, most of us are not producing enough Vitamin D naturally.
Vitamin D deficiency contributes to a host of chronic diseases, including:
3) Diabetes, Type 1 and 2
4) Cold and Flu
5) Muscle Pain
10) Multiple Sclerosis
11) Alzheimer's disease
12) Heart disease
13) And more!
What can you do to protect the health of yourself and your family?
1) Get your levels checked via a simple blood test from your doctor. Optimal levels are between 50 and 70 ng/ml.
2) Spend time in the sun daily, preferably between 10 am and 2 pm. Don't wear sunscreen and have at least your arms, hands and/or face exposed. Stay outside without sunscreen only until your skin turns the lightest shade of pink (most people with fair skin will only need 10-20 minutes... others will need more or less, depending). Vitamin D has a short half-life, meaning you need to replenish your supplies consistently. Try to get outdoors every day if possible.
3) Take a supplement. Look for Vitamin D3 (as opposed to D2). Ask your doctor or a health coach to help determine the exact proper dosage, but taking 5000 iU/day would be highly beneficial and wouldn't cause a toxicity concern.
Whether you live in sunny SoCal or snowy Boston, you probably are Vitamin D deficient. I can't stress enough how important it is to know your levels and how to obtain optimal numbers properly.