By: Dr. Cynthia Mangla, DC
In recent years there has been significant buzz around the benefits of vitamin D. One main reason for this is due to an increase in the number of Americans that are vitamin D deficient. In fact, over fifty percent of individuals are considered to have insufficient levels of vitamin D. For many years we have understood the role vitamin D plays in the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and general bone health, however, recent studies have also shown the importance of vitamin D in prevention of chronic health issues. It has been found to be a critical factor in musculoskeletal health, immune support, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and long-term neurological support.
What defines deficiency of Vitamin D?
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include overall fatigue, depression, excessive sweating of the head, general joint and muscular aches, and frequent infections. However, the best way to determine if you are deficient in vitamin D is through a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. According to the Vitamin D Council, deficient levels are considered to be <40 ng/ml, while clinically relevant levels are 40-80 ng/ml. It is important to know your level of vitamin D prior to supplementation as toxic levels, while rare, are possible when reaching >100 ng/ml.
Individuals with an increased risk for deficiency include those who:
- Have darker skin: Our skin pigments act as a natural shield from the sun, which prevents those with darker skin from gaining the benefits of vitamin D from direct sun exposure.
- Older than 50 years of age: As we age, our bodies don’t convert vitamin D as efficiently.
- Are obese or have an increased muscle mass: Those with increased fat or muscle mass tend to store vitamin D in these tissues making it less readily available for our bodies. This is also true for women during pregnancy.
- Have gastrointestinal (GI) issues: This is likely to cause malabsorption of vitamin D through the gut.
How to increase Vitamin D:
The best way to increase vitamin D levels is through direct sunlight (without sunblock). It is recommended that about 10–15 minutes of direct sunlight on arms and legs daily can provide a sufficient source of vitamin D.
For those of us living in northern latitudes, our exposure to direct sunlight significantly decreases as we enter into fall and winter months. During this time supplementing with high quality Vitamin D3 is essential. In addition, consuming foods with high levels of vitamin D can be beneficial. Foods with higher levels of vitamin D include fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and mackerel; eggs including the yolk, mushrooms and raw/fortified dairy.
As we approach these cooler months, it is important to have your physician check vitamin D levels for yourself and your family. At Washington Park Chiropractic, our physicians are well qualified in ordering the necessary tests and providing proper supplementation guidelines (you need a lot more D than you think!) to help boost your immune system during this next cold and flu season.Washington Park Chiropractic is the only practice in Denver, Colorado specializing in Sports Chiropractic, Prenatal Chiropractic and Pediatric Chiropractic. Our Wash Park Doctors are expert certified and trained in Sports, Pediatrics and Prenatal Care including massage, acupuncture, Webster Technique, Graston Technique, Laser, K-Laser, Kinesiology Tape, RockTape and Normatec