In my office I refer to Vitamin D3 as a “non-negotiable” supplement almost every patient must take daily. This much-hyped vitamin (which actually acts more like a hormone) is probably as close to a “rockstar vitamin” as you can get. Most people know two things about Vitamin D- 3: You get it from the sun and you need it to for healthy bones– yes, these are true, but there’s so much more to this vitamin which is critical for a healthy body. Vitamin D is essential for our mental and physical health as well as a healthy immune system, cancer prevention
We get the inactive form of Vitamin D3 either from exposure to UV rays on our skin or by taking a supplement. Either way, the vitamin needs to be activated by the liver or kidneys to become useable by the body. The vitamin is then active and able to interact with vitamin D receptors which are located in tissues all over your body. Vitamin D allows us to regulate our blood levels of calcium which keeps our bones and muscles healthy. Additionally, Vitamin D plays a role in many different biochemical processes that medicine is still learning about.
Consequences of deficiency can show up in a myriad of conditions or symptoms: thinning or soft bones, muscle weakness or aches, autoimmune diseases (i.e. Crohn Disease, MS, Type 1 Diabetes), metabolic syndrome, breathing problems such as asthma, increased susceptibility to infections, depression, increased incidence of many cancers. You could probably say this Vitamin does a little bit of everything for our bodies.
Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common worldwide, but especially in northern latitudes (such as here in cloudy Washington). Here are 5 reasons you may not be getting enough D in your life:
- Limited exposure to UVB or using UVB-blocking sunscreen
- You have highly pigmented skin
- Several medications and supplements prevent Vitamin D production, absorption or increase metabolism (i.e. anticonvulsants, steroids, St. John’s wort)
- Liver or kidney disease
- Gut diseases which prevent absorption (i.e. Crohn disease and Celiac disease)
So what can you do to help improve your D3 levels? First, get your Vitamin D tested via an easy blood test. Although labs vary, I like to see Vitamin D3 levels at least at 50 ng/dL in my patients.
Visit a provider at PROTECT for further information and to get your Vitamin D checked!