# Friday, 05 April 2013
                 
Sunshine and Vitamin DThe importance of vitamin D to human health cannot be overstated. We are just now beginning to understand that vitamin D (sometimes referred to as the "sunshine vitamin") plays an integral part in protecting us from a wide variety of ailments such as rickets, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease and even depression.

Unfortunately the number of people that are vitamin D deficient has increased to extremely high levels. According to a study quoted by Scientific American, 75% of American teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. This is an alarming statistic considering just how important vitamin D is to our health and well being!

Symptoms and Health Risks of Vitamin D Deficiency

The following are some symptoms and health risks of vitamin D deficiency. Note that symptoms are usually subtle; the best way to find out if you are vitamin D deficient is to get a blood test.
  • Muscle weakness: muscles rely on vitamin D receptors in order to work properly.
  • Psoriasis: psoriasis is widely accepted as an autoimmune-inherited disorder. One likely trigger is vitamin D deficiency, since boosting vitamin D levels is an effective psoriasis treatment.
  • Bone soreness: bones require vitamin D to be healthy and strong, otherwise mild musculoskeletal soreness or hypersensitivity can occur.
  • Nerve pain.
  • Chronic back pains.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Severe asthma (especially in younger people).
  • Cancer.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Depression.

Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency

It is a good idea to get tested for your vitamin D levels before taking any supplements.

Blood tests are the best way to get checked out, and should be performed by a medical professional who knows about real nutrition.

There are two main types of vitamin D deficiency blood tests: 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. According to Dr. Mercola the best test is 25(OH)D, aka 25-hydroxyvitamin D, since "it is most strongly associated with overall health."

The following table displays various ranges of vitamin D levels (desired range is Optimal):

  Deficient   Optimal   Treat Cancer and
Heart Disease
  Excess
< 50 ng/ml 50-70 ng/ml 70-100 ng/ml > 100 ng/ml

Source: Dr. Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2002/02/23/vitamin-d-deficiency-part-one.aspx.

Vitamin D Deficiency Treatment

The amount of vitamin D needed for good health has been debated, and varies from source to source. According to GrassrootsHealth (a public health promotion organization) the average person needs 40-60 ng/ml.

If taking oral supplements it is recommended that you first get tested in order to establish your current vitamin D levels. Later testing will then determine if you are reaching your target levels, allowing for further adjustment of the supplement’s dosage level.

Sunshine and UVB Rays

At the top of the treatment list is plain old sunshine. The primary source of vitamin D is produced by your body in response to the sun’s UVB rays. Unlike other vitamins, vitamin D is found in relatively few foods (see below). Get outside and soak up those rays!

There are some who advocate the use of sun screens to protect against UV rays, which results in the decrease of UV absorption by the skin. We leave it up to the reader to do their own research on this. Note, however, that many sunscreen products are known to contain carcinogenic substances and may not block out harmful UVA rays.

Food with Vitamin D

Fish is a main vitamin B food source. Salmon, mackerel and swordfish have high levels of the vitamin. Other fish such like sardines and tuna have lower, more moderate levels.

If you do not like eating fish you can always take cod liver oil in capsule form.

Low amounts of vitamin D also occur in eggs (the yolk), oysters, mushrooms, beef liver, and fortified foods like cereal and milk.

Oral Supplements

There are two types of oral vitamin D supplements available: synthetic D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol) that is naturally produced by your body.

Traditionally doctors have recommended either form to patients. However, our understanding of the importance of this vitamin has vastly improved, and as a result the effectiveness of synthetic versus "natural" vitamin D is being re-examined.

According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, vitamin D3 is roughly 87% better at maintaining vitamin D levels. It also results in 2X to 3X more storage of vitamin D compared to vitamin D2.

As mentioned previously, if you are interested in taking supplements all health professionals recommend first getting tested for your current vitamin D levels!

Conclusion

Vitamin D is vital to good health and quality of life. The astronomically high levels of vitamin D deficiency that we are currently experiencing can easily be rectified.

Get outside, soak up the sunshine and enjoy the outdoors! Eat fish sometimes and try getting a few mushrooms into you. It is just that easy!

Sources:
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2002/02/23/vitamin-d-deficiency-part-one.aspx
  • http://www.webmd.com/diet/vitamin-d-deficiency
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/035089_vitamin_D_deficiency_signs_symptoms.html
  • http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/96/3/E447.abstract