Vitamin D is finally starting to get the attention it deserves. Vitamin D is essential to your health and has the ability to keep you well protected from a wide range of maladies. It has even been said that the H1N1 virus is just another name for Vitamin D Deficiency.
Not Enough Vitamin D
It is estimated that 85% of the general population is Vitamin D deficient. Insufficient Vitamin D is known to cause:
• Restless sleep and fatigue
• Joint and muscle pain
• Poor concentration and memory
• Uncontrolled weight gain and obesity
• Depression, including SAD (Seasonal Effective Disorder)
• Heart disease
• Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia
• Parkinson’s Disease
• Alzheimer’s Disease
How Does D Work?
Vitamin D is not really a vitamin at all. While vitamins come from dietary sources, D is actually produced by the body. Pre-vitamin D is produced in the liver, and with a reaction to UV sunlight and heat, forms D3 in the skin. The D3 is then further synthesized by the liver and kidneys into a potent hormone group that includes estrogen, testosterone, cortisol and progesterone.
Sunlight exposure is essential to the synthesizing of Vitamin D. This is why winter is the season of colds and flu. It is not because the weather is colder — instead we do not get the same exposure to the sun.
Oily fish is by far the most prevalent high-D food — consider salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, fresh tuna, halibut, mackerel, sardines and anchovies. And remember the stories of our parents and grandparents taking a spoonful of cod liver oil every day? I guess they were on to something. Think about adding pure cod liver oil to your diet (some of the refined versions of cod liver oil have had the vitamin D removed so, as always, take care to read the label). Dried shitake mushroom and egg yolks are also high quality food sources.
While upping your Vitamin D level is best accomplished through diet, you can also take an oral supplement — but make sure you get Vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol). Note that, if you are supplementing, it is important to have your D level analyzed periodically. A dose of 2000-6000 IU of D3 should be adequate to keep your level in an ideal range (between 50 and 70 mg./ml.)
A Few More Facts
Vitamin A, which is a fat soluble vitamin, is often combined with Vitamin D. Therefore, if you are supplementing, avoid A and D combinations, as they could lead to excessive Vitamin A toxicity. People who frequent tanning salons will generally have adequate Vitamin D levels. And know that even with excessive sun exposure, your body has a way of inactivating excess Vitamin D formed in the skin.
Most importantly, ensure that you are not deficient in this very important, health-promoting, disease-resisting substance. Adjust your diet if you can – there are plenty of foods containing Vitamin D – or supplement if necessary. For further reading, I highly recommend Dr. James Dowd’s The Vitamin D Cure.