I have very painful memories of the summer of 2015. I was working in the school system, therefore, was looking forward to the summer off. Unfortunately, my last day of work we had a death in the family. That pain of heart was quickly followed by real physical pain. For some unexplained reason my legs began to hurt so badly that I had to borrow my mothers cane to attend my sisters funeral.
My acupuncturist feverish to find the source of the pain. It was finally decided that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I started taking supplements and had near immediate relief. Later in the year, when I had my annual physical, my general physician told me that Vitamin D deficiencies is very common in African-Americans. It is difficult to get enough Vitamin D, therefore, a it is a very common deficiency.
So, let’s talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need, and how you can get enough. The tree ways to get Vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming Vitamin D containing or fortified foods, and through supplements.
Why is Vitamin D important, and how much do we need?
Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such a depression and seasonal addective disorder (SAD).
Not getting enough Vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate Vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The ‘official” minimum amount of Vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health. To ensure you get adequate amounts you can implement any combination of the three Vitamin D sources mentioned above on a weekly basis.
How can I get enough Vitamin D from the sun?
Your skin makes Vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun; that is why it is referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. How much Vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all effect the amount of Vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun. One standard recommendation is to get about 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week. Always avoid sunburns. In some locations and seasons it is not easy to get sun exposure.
How do I get enough Vitamin D from food?
Vitamin D is naturally found in fatty fish, liver and egg yolks. Some mushrooms make Vitamin D when they are exposed to the sun. A lot of processed foods are “fortified” with Vitamin D, which means it has been added to these foods. These include milk, some orange juices, breakfast cereals, and yogurt. It will say on the label how much Vitamin D has been added per serving.
Because Vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some healthy fat. Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU per day. This is why supplements are quite popular.
How can I get enough Vitamin D from supplements?
It’s easy enough to “pop a pill” or take some cod liver oil, which also contains Vitamin A. Either of these can ensure that you get the minimum amount plus a bit extra. Before you start taking a supplement, make sure you check that it won;t interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice.
Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label, except under medical care.
The maximum amount recommended, for the general population is 4,00 IU/day. Too much Vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium to an unsafe level. This can affect your heart and kidneys.
The best thing, if you are concerned, it to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin supplements is right for your. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of Vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which; many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of this vitamin. There are three ways to get enough Vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements. I have giving you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-600 IU daily.
If you are concerned, it is best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin levels to be sure what is right for you. Always take supplements as directed.