Is your vitamin D deficiency being overlooked? Dr. Doni outlines a clear-cut explanation of the science, symptoms, and correct supplementation associated with the vitamin D deficiency epidemic.
In recent years, talk about vitamin D deficiency has become more mainstream, partly because there are a growing number of people who are learning that they may be vitamin D deficient. There’s some uncertainty because one of the problems with identifying a vitamin D deficiency is that the symptoms can be generic and vague, so they are often overlooked.
Then there’s the crazy-pants fact that vitamin D (also known as calcitriol) is more than a vitamin, it is also a hormone. That’s right, vitamin D is not only an essential fat-soluble vitamin, but also an essential hormone that our bodies can only make through exposure to sunlight (UV-B rays on the skin).
Estimations of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency vary dramatically but one particular study indicated that vitamin D deficiency was present in 41.6% of the American population and is especially common among people with poor overall health and as high as 82% for African Americans.
And although we can eat our way to higher levels of vitamin D, it is very difficult to do.
That’s why so many people are lacking the proper levels of vitamin D. Here’s what so many people a missing: low levels of vitamin D (<30 ng/ml) may be linked to a number of chronic diseases and a host of other problems.
Now is the perfect time to take a moment and review the following symptoms related to a vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D Deficiency: 7 Symptoms to Watch
- Without a doubt, chronic fatigue and tiredness are the most common indication of a deficiency, especially if you are getting enough sleep. The connection between vitamin D deficiency and fatigue is strong. Current research shows that those with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were less likely to experience fatigue than those with lower levels of vitamin D. Source: Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Ondokuz Mayis University School of Medicine, Kurupelit Samsun 55139, Turkey
- Did you know that a vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to depression? Currently, the relationship between vitamin D and depression is found in observational studies which show it to be common in older adults. Additionally, depression during the winter months is relational to a lack of sunlight.
- One of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency is the loss of bone density. This occurs because vitamin D plays a role in bone metabolism overall, the absorption of calcium from the intestines, and maintaining adequate calcium in the blood. This means that even if you are supplementing with calcium, if you are low in vitamin D, you may not see see benefits in your bone health. Look for brittle fingernails, bone pain, decreased grip strength, or ongoing muscle aches.
- Hair loss is problematic for so many adults, yet few consider that a nutrient deficiency, that includes vitamin D, may be the culprit. Some research has found a correlation with hair loss in alopecia areata, where vitamin D levels are inversely correlated with the amount of hair loss. Lower levels of vitamin D tend to be associated with a greater amount of hair loss. Source: National Library of Medicine.
- If you find that you are the one who frequently gets a cold, or if you have an autoimmune condition, you may have a low vitamin D level. Studies show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk and severity of autoimmunity and infections in general.
- Interestingly, low vitamin D levels have also been linked to decreased memory and dementia. Vitamin D is considered to be neuroprotective for all causes of cognitive impairment.
- Vitamin D deficiency has also been researched related to risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. If you are at high risk for these conditions, it is important to have your vitamin D levels checked.
Additional symptoms associated with a vitamin D deficiency include slow wound healing, gut issues like IBS, unexplained joint and back pain, and headaches.
Be aware that the symptoms listed do not prove that you have a vitamin D deficiency, so please visit your doctor for a complete medical work-up and ask to test for vitamin D in your bloodwork.
Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency
I recommend testing for 25-OH Vitamin D, which is an inactive for of vitamin D but is considered the best way to assess your vitamin D status. The optimal level has been debated by practitioners over the years. At this point in time, a level of 50 to 80 ng/ml is desired.
It is important to note that it is possible to test for the active form of vitamin D, known as 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D (activated in the kidneys). Some practitioners have theorized that measuring 1, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D can help us to determine whether inflammation is present and affecting vitamin D levels. I have found that it is complicated to interpret the results and not usually necessary for assessing for vitamin D deficiency.
I’ve already mentioned that in some cases, people may be able to get enough vitamin D by simply changing up their diet and by getting more sun exposure.
However, this is generally not enough, especially if you are already vitamin D deficient. Your genetics related to vitamin D also play a role. If you have a genetic variation on the VDR gene, you may need to take more vitamin D to maintain adequate levels. This means that you will need to add a vitamin D supplement, from a trusted source to your daily routine.
Vitamin D: How to Know How Much to Take
The amount of vitamin D your body needs depends on many factors, including:
- Your current vitamin D status (we need your blood results to know this)
- The amount of sun exposure you get on a regular basis (which also depends on where you live)
- Your age (older adults have more risk factors for vitamin D deficiency)
- The color of your skin (more melanin reduces your ability to make vitamin D from the sun)
- Your current health situation.
It is important to keep in mind that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D (400 to 800 IU) – considered adequate to maintain bone health and calcium levels – is often too low, I find, for many people. Many countries and professional societies have different guidelines for vitamin D.
If you are (or plan to soon be) pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended that you take 2000 IU (50 mcg) per day. If your vitamin D level is low (<50 ng/ml), I often recommend taking 5000 IU per day to raise your levels. Some practitioners will prescribe much higher doses (50,000 IU) to be taken once per week to raise your level more quickly. I, however, prefer daily dosing (5000 IU per day = 35,000 IU per week) because it establishes a healthy routine and signaling to your body.
You can get vitamin D in cod liver oil (1360 IU per tablespoon), salmon (570 IU in 3 ounces), and milk (cow, almond, oat, and soy) (~120 IU per cup). Aim for 10 to 30 minutes of mid-day sun exposure on your skin (without sunscreen), at least three days per week. With 10 minutes of sun exposure, your body can make about 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Be careful to avoid sunburn, especially if you have an increased risk of skin cancer.
For a deeper dive on skin cancer, I invite you to watch (or listen) to this week’s interview with Dr. Michael Traub about his recent recovery from invasive skin cancer and the path he took from surgery to radiation therapy – and then immunotherapy – to treat the cancer.
Watch: Healing Skin Cancer with Dr. Michael Traub (Episode 95 of How Humans Heal)
Vitamin D Supplements: Important Things to Know
- Choose Vitamin D3, not vitamin D2.
- If you take a liquid vitamin D, be sure to hold it in your mouth for at least 60 seconds because it absorbs from your mouth.
- Take vitamin D3 combined with vitamin K2 (Menaquinone-7 or MK-7) to best support delivery of calcium to your bones.
- Vegan forms of vitamin D are available.
I made it so easy for you to get vitamins D in the right amounts. Head over to my store and pick up the highest quality vitamin D in liquid or capsule form, such as Vitamin D & K Support by Nature Empowered, which contains Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol) (5,000 IU) 125 mcg combined with Vitamin K2 (K2 as Menaquinone-7 (MK-7, MenaQ7®PRO)) 180 mcg.
Vitamin K is a critical partner with vitamin D because it delivers the maximum benefits needed to support and maintain bone, cardiovascular, and immune health.
And, if you’re looking for ease when it comes to getting ALL the right nutrients each day, including the uber-important vitamin D, then start with my very own Dr. Doni’s Daily Foundational Support. A one-month supply that includes multi-vitamins, Omega-3 fish oil, Magnesium, vitamin D, and probiotics are conveniently delivered to your front door.
Note: All of the vitamins and supplements at DrDoniStore.com are formulated to be free of allergens derived from: gluten, yeast, artificial colors and flavors.
Wellness wishes to you, always!
10th February 2022
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