The Sunshine Vitamin
What's the deal with Vitamin D?
There's a lot of hype around Vitamin D as the "cure all" vitamin. Google it and you'll find article after article proclaiming it's importance or shooting it down as just another fad in the supplement movement.
Is it fact or faith?
Both! Neither! We know nothing! hahahaha.
Ok, that's not entirely true. There are a number of studies that demonstrate Vitamin D is incredibly important for bone and mental health; it's immune boosting and prevents inflammation.
But to what degree? There are studies with conflicting results on the role vitamin D plays in the prevention of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and neurodegenerative disease.
If you're interested in learning about the largest, most comprehensive and diverse (not just white people!!) Vitamin D study to date go here. Results will be released sometime this year and will hopefully clarify it's role in the prevention of cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
What do we know?
Sufficient levels of Vitamin D is really important for your overall health. Especially if you fall into the high risk group for vitamin D deficiency.
What percentage of the population is deficient?
What?! Tell me more, please. Ok…
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to:
Antenatal and postpartum depression
Depression in young adults
It may play a role in the development of type 1 and 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease
Adequate Vitamin D is associated with:
A reduction in childhood asthma and wheezing
Protection from Rickets and Osteoporosis
Resistance to chronic disease
There are 3 ways to get Vitamin D:
Sunshine (but wear your sunscreen!)
Diet (umm, kind of scarce and difficult to come by)
Vitamin D supplements (remind me to set my alarm)
And that is why we are deficient, people.
What’s the latest in Vitamin D research?
A recent study looked at the link between preconception Vitamin D deficiency and pregnancy outcomes.
Their conclusion? Insufficient levels of Vitamin D prior to conceptionis linked with pregnancy loss. But, if you’re 8 weeks pregnant (and beyond) there’s no link between insufficient levels and pregnancy loss.
Helpful tip for all those with a uterus considering pregnancy:
Schedule a preconception visit with your provider (yes, those visits exist!) to talk about checking a vitamin D level prior to conception if you are at high risk for being deficient.
What does this mean for you?
Whoever you are, whatever age you are- Boost that Vitamin D level!
Vitamin D is not naturally in very many foods
Most foods that have naturally occurring vitamin D are animal based (i.e eggs, cheese, milk).
If you are vegan or limit animal products in your diet you should supplement with Vitamin D2 as D3 can contain animal products.
People with a naturally dark skin tone have natural sun protection and require at least three to five times longer exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as a person with a white skin tone.
Fun...er, Interesting Fact(s):
During flu season increasing Vitamin D levels to 1200 IU may provide a 40% reduction in acquiring Influenza A.
Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is linked to a three fold increase in Bacterial Vaginosis
If you are female, older than 50 and have vitamin D deficiency you’re more prone to urinary incontinence.
Chronically low levels of vitamin D have been associated with Parkinson’s Disease
Here's what you've all been waiting for! Vitamin D isn't actually a Vitamin. It's a fat-soluble prohormone steroid. It got it's name ironically because it's an essential item needed in our diet, which is basically the definition of a vitamin. The irony is that it's almost impossible to get enough of it from your diet alone.
Groups At Risk For Vitamin D Inadequacy:
People with limited sun exposure
People with dark skin
People with liver disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis
Obese or have undergone gastric bypass
Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D from National Institutes of Health
600 IUs of Vitamin D are recommended daily for male and females age 1-70.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, an infant, or fall into the high risk group talk to your provider about vitamin D testing and recommended daily intake as it may be higher.