January Newsletter: Vitamin D
Why is vitamin D important for your health?
It’s the beginning of January, and the days are still short and wintry! The vitamin D stores that we spent all summer building up are nearing empty.
How is vitamin D made?
Our bodies make vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. After just 20 minutes in sunlight, with the arms and legs almost completely exposed, we produce about 10,000 IUs (international units) of vitamin D! Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning that some can be stored by the body. However, most people are still deficient in it due to the inadequate amount of sunshine we get during the cold weather seasons. Plus, if you spent your summer inside an office building, lathered up in sunscreen, or just in the cloudy Chicago area, your body is barely getting enough vitamin D to function normally, much less having any left over to store.
What does vitamin D do?
Some people might think missing a little vitamin D isn’t a problem, but we need vitamin D to help absorb calcium and increase bone strength, support the immune system, and to prevent cancer. Every cell in our body has vitamin D receptors, and without it, most activities performed by the body are in some way affected. Vitamin D also helps to prevent the winter blues!
Is all vitamin D the same?
There are two forms of vitamin D that you will normally see on foods and supplements. D2 (ergocalciferol) is made by plants and D3 (cholecalciferol) is made by humans when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Traditionally, ergocalciferol has been the form used in many fortified foods and supplements due to a higher availability and longer lasting shelf life. Cholecalciferol, however, is much more potent and longer lasting in the body. When choosing a supplement, make sure it says D3 or cholecalciferol!
Getting Vitamin D naturally:
Daily sunlight exposure is the best way to get vitamin D. Our bodies are naturally able to create vitamin D. 20 minutes outside with full arm exposure and some leg exposure is very helpful in reaching our daily requirements. However, in cold weather, this can be hard to do. Taking a daily vitamin D supplementation is necessary for most people to reach their recommended amount.
How much should you take?
It is possible to overdose on vitamin D, but no adverse effects have been seen before 10,000 IUs. The general consensus is that you should be taking 30 IUs of vitamin D for every pound of body weight. A 150 pound adult would need to be taking at least 4,500 IUs a day. Getting at least 2,000 IUs a day as well as some sunshine should also be enough. If you think you’re daily sunlight levels are too low, or you’re unsure which brand of vitamin D you should be taking, just ask Dr. Brian! He believes that vitamin D is one of the most important supplements a person can be on and recommends a liquid Bio-D-Mulsion Forte, which he uses himself and is one of the few things he sells right here in the office!