We are all looking for that magical pill we can take to prevent diseases; particularly the BIG diseases like heart disease and cancer. Of course there is no pill of the sort, but we know that certain vitamins and supplements certainly play an important role. Vitamin D is one such nutrient, and making sure that you have sufficient levels is imperative to your health.
Researchers have been furiously studying the effects of vitamin D on health and have found some incredible things. Vitamin D has been shown to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Prevent most forms of cancer (including skin cancer)
- Prevent autoimmune disease
- Prevent heart disease
- Maintain strong and healthy bones
- Improve mood
- Increases immune function
- Prevent menstrual cramps
- Supports normal brain function
How to Get More Vitamin D
Most of our Vitamin D is made in your skin when it comes into contact with sunlight. Unfortunately, long daytime hours inside and the daily application of sunscreen severely limit our exposure to the sun. It is important to recognize that the daily application of sunscreen blocks all exposure to UVB which is essential for vitamin D production.
Sunlight is the best way to increase your vitamin D production. Certainly use caution to avoid getting burned, but having a nice tan should actually be seen as essential to your health. Because of this, I encourage increased sun exposure for appropriate amounts of time. Start with just five minutes of unprotected sun exposure each day and gradually increase that duration to encourage a tan without burning.
Even in the winter, expose your hands and face, for as long as possible. You can tolerate longer sun exposure this time of year without burning. If you can’t get adequate sunlight, particularly during the winter months, I recommend supplementation. It is very difficult to determine the dosage required by someone without testing levels first.
Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency
You can check your vitamin D levels with a blood sample. I use 25(OH)D and use it along with other markers to determine true vitamin D status. But it is not as simple as one test.
Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) is perhaps the most important marker to test for vitamin D deficiency. This is because there is an intimate relationship between vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. All of these are regulated in part by PTH. Adequate levels of vitamin D and calcium suppress the production of PTH. So, when PTH is low, there is likely enough D and Calcium. If PTH is low, we know that we need to take steps to supplement with vitamin D and Calcium. Conversely, if PTH levels are high, it may be a sign of vitamin D toxicity, which can easily happen with over supplementation.
Finding the cause of too high or too low vitamin D is important, too. Insufficient sun exposure and limited dietary intake are common causes, but not the only ones. Inflammation, eating a diet high in processed foods, and low calcium intake can all be at the root of the deficiency. Extra testing can help us find the underlying cause and help keep your vitamin D status within normal range.
Making sure that you have sufficient levels of vitamin D has such a profound effect on your overall disease risk that I recommend it for everyone. It is such a simple way to protect yourself against so many diseases that it is well worth your time to have it done.
My Vitamin D Recommendations
It is always important to pair vitamin D3 with vitamin K2. Vitamin D will, in addition to all of the immune benefits, aid in the absorption of calcium. More calcium is good, but we need that calcium to go into our bones and teeth and stay out of our blood vessels and our joints. Vitamin K2 helps drive the calcium into the bones.
Here are two of my favorite D3/K2 supplements:
I love this D3/K2 combination because of the nanoemulsified form. Not only is it easier to swallow than a capsule, it is also much more easily absorbed. Order it here:
This is another of my favorite vitamin D formulas. Also with K2, this little capsule is easy to swallow. Order it here:
Want to learn more about Vitamin D? Read about 7 Reasons You Might Need More Vitamin D by Matthew Magnante at Fitness Volt.