Most of you know I am very concerned about vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is an important vitamin, that when deficient, effects our daily lives. It effects our mood, cell growth, bone density, calcium metabolism, immune system, digestive system and reproductive system. Several studies show vitamin D deficiency may be linked to aggressive prostate cancer, skin cancers and colon cancer. Vitamin D has anti-cancer effects, which decrease the spread of cancer. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases). It is common knowledge vitamin D affects our bones and is used in treatment and prevention of osteoporosis and rickets. Patients very low in vitamin D usually report feeling unmotivated in the morning and have an underlying bluish mood. Once vitamin D is replaced, they often report improved vigor and mood. Vitamin D also helps regulate blood pressure. It is estimated 50% of children and young adults are vitamin D deficient.
Risk factors contributing to vitamin D deficiency:
- Older age
- Inadequate sun exposure (especially with the use of sunscreens)
- A darker complexion (increase in skin pigmentation/ higher levels of melanin)
- Malabsorption problems
- Liver and kidney diseases
Vitamin D is activated by the sun (UV light). In the northern hemisphere, we do not get much direct sunlight—as a result we typically have very low levels of vitamin D. Not to mention, most people block the sun by using sunscreen and do not spend very much time outside. Vitamin D supplementation is especially important in the winter, when the sun is furthest away and we spend more time indoors. The use of prednisone (steroid) interferes with the renal (kidney) conversion of vitamin D to its active form. I usually recommend year round supplementation when levels are low. Vitamin D is a stable compound and is easily replaced with supplementation. Excess vitamin D can be toxic. However, this is extremely rare and is usually due to unmonitored high-dose supplementation. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which takes time to decrease—unlike a water soluble vitamin, which at high-doses is excreted with urination. The monitoring of vitamin D is performed by blood draw and running the appropriate test.
We recommend you have your blood drawn once a year to monitor not only vitamin D, but other valuable vitamins, minerals and proteins.
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