For the past few decades, Vitamin D has continually been featured in the news. And, recently, has been considered one of the most supreme nutrients for its ability to promote optimal health and prevent today’s chronic degenerative diseases.
Vitamin D is freely available to everyone through sun exposure. Specifically, its production is the result of an interaction of the ultraviolet B (UV-B) ray and cholesterol in our skin. But, for the past half century, Vitamin D deficiency has become a worldwide problem. Why? Well, many people are increasingly working indoors and overall, getting less exposure to sunlight. Especially those who live further away from the equator. Additionally, getting Vitamin D from food sources like fish and eggs is very difficult since there’s usually such a minimal amount present. In order to get an optimal level of Vitamin D level in our bodies on a daily basis, nutritional supplementation of Vitamin D is often necessary.
So, what’s all of the hype – why is Vitamin D so important? One of the most common functions associated with Vitamin D is its ability to optimize bone health. This is because it promotes calcium absorption in the gut and a normal bone formation in our bodies.
According to the newest research published in an April 2013 issue of the journal JAMA Neurology, babies born in the month of May have significantly lower levels of Vitamin D and are at greater risk for developing multiple sclerosis (a chronic degenerative autoimmune disease that attacks the brain and the nervous system) than babies born in November. This is not the only study that shows the association; previous studies have also found the same outcomes.
In addition to multiple sclerosis, several studies have shown a strong association of low Vitamin D with other autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, and scleroderma. Besides autoimmune diseases, Vitamin D deficiency also increases the risk of developing other chronic degenerative diseases, including bone loss (osteopenia and osteoporosis), diabetes (type 1 and 2 diabetes), high blood pressure, heart disease, fatigue, muscle and bone pain, depression, memory loss (dementia and Alzheimer), chronic respiratory infections, and various cancers.
So, how do we test the Vitamin D level and what is an optimal level? A simple blood test called “25-Hydroxy Vitamin D” will tell you both your vitamin D2 (synthetic form) and vitamin D3 (natural form) levels. The optimal level of Vitamin D should be around 60 to 80 ng/mL, preferably in the natural form of 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D3.
In order to achieve and maintain the optimal level of vitamin D, you may need 2,000 to 10,000 IU/day of Vitamin D3, best taken with food. Ask your doctor to check your Vitamin D status and discuss the right dosage of Vitamin D3 supplementation for you.
-Posted by Teerawong Kasiolarn, ND, MSAc, LAc.