Everything You Need to Know About Vitamin D
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is crucial to good health and optimal wellbeing. It plays a pivotal role in your immune response, absorption of other vital minerals, weight maintenance, and facilitates growth and development, especially in children.
Naturally, your body creates vitamin D from cholesterol once your skin is exposed to sunlight; however, sunshine alone is not enough to keep vitamin D levels where they need to be. In order to support yourself or your clients in the best way possible, it’s important you not only know why vitamin D is important but also how.
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?
Like all vitamins and minerals, there can be too much of a good thing. If you’re taking a supplement or recommending a supplement to an adult client, begin with 5000 IU which is usually one capsule of any generic vitamin D you purchase over the counter. Be sure to read the label as different brands can vary. To provide an immune boost, you can increase intake to 10000 IU (two capsules) for 5-7 days, but usually 5000 IU is the ideal dosage for maintaining optimal health.
VITAMIN D BENEFITS
Since almost every cell is the body has a receptor for vitamin D, it’s no surprise it plays a crucial role in the prevention of almost every known health condition. Immunity and bone health are the obvious benefits, but vitamin D can also improve blood vessel structure, making it a key player in cardiovascular health and help balance blood sugar levels, which contributes to improved metabolism and weight control. New research also suggests optimal vitamin D levels can reduce pregnancy complications as well as support with acute and chronic respiratory conditions.
VITAMIN D IN FOODS
You can help keep your vitamin D levels optimal by choosing the right foods, too. Fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon are excellent sources, as are eggs (specifically the yolk) as well as fortified products like dairy products and orange juice. Food should always be your first defense, so before adding expensive supplements to your diet, plan your weekly menu to include some of these key foods.
Cod liver oil is also an excellent choice if you prefer to get your supplementation in food form. For plants, sunshine is their “food” – they can’t survive without it! Adopting this mentality and ensuring you get natural sunlight as often as possible – think of it like a sunshine snack – can also support your vitamin D levels.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Obvious symptoms of suboptimal vitamin D include bone pain, since vitamin D is essential to the absorption of calcium, and bone loss, usually in the form of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Vitamin D levels are checked often in the elderly population who have a higher risk of deficiency since they spend less time outside, are less likely to eat vitamin D rich foods, and have a slower metabolism, but vitamin D deficiency can present in younger populations too. Fatigue, hair loss, and frequency of illness, like catching regular colds and flus, can be subtle indications you’re not getting enough vitamin D, which you should have checked with your primary care physician.
VITAMIN D TOXICITY
Remember, a little goes a long way. The capsule may appear small, but 1-2 (5000-10000 IU) are more than enough to boost your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D overload – also known as hypervitaminosis D – include a buildup of calcium in the blood and potentially dangerous condition called hypercalcemia. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weakness, which can progress to kidney issues and calcium stones. If you live in an area that’s near the equator and have access to direct sunlight daily, your vitamin D levels may be optimal, and therefore you might not need a supplement at all. Be sure to consult with your primary care physician before beginning any new supplement regime.
Almost every vitamin has a list of extraordinary benefits, and it can feel overwhelming to know exactly where to spend your money when it comes to which supplements are the most important. During cold and flu season, vitamin D supplementation, along with vitamin C and zinc provides the best defense to staying healthy. If your spring and summer months provide adequate sunshine and time outdoors, you can consider switching these out and keeping this vitamin particular rotation for winter months only.
It’s also important to always maintain a food first approach to keeping vitamin and mineral levels optimal. Incorporating fish like salmon or sardines at least twice a week and taking cod liver oil daily can go a long way to helping maintain optimal vitamin D levels. Before beginning or stopping any supplement regimen, always be sure to consult your primary care physician.
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