Vitamin (D)eficient?

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If asked, I am sure many would know their cholesterol level, blood pressure and maybe even fasting blood glucose. These are routinely checked and are used for markers to diagnosis disease. What about your vitamin D level? How many know that? Our vitamin D level can also be considered a snapshot to our overall health.

Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins needed by our bodies. We call it a vitamin, but it is actually a steroid hormone produced from cholesterol upon exposure to the sun.

Most promoted for its role in bone health and increasing calcium absorption, vitamin D has benefits that extend far beyond: improved mental health and brain function, improved immune function, decrease in pain, appetite reduction, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and an overall sense of wellbeing.

Surprisingly, low vitamin D levels have been associated with all chronic diseases. It's hard to say whether low vitamin D is the cause, but a deficiency is present in every case. Vitamin D is one of the top nutrient deficiencies seen today. (I once heard it described as a silent epidemic, and I think that is true.) A simple blood test will tell you where you fall. Optimal range is between 50-70ng/ML. (I know my level is 31ng/mL, which is still considered deficient.)

The best way to get vitamin D is via our friend Sunshine. Unfortunately, we live in Michigan and don't see the sun very often. Add the use of sunscreen, which blocks the harmful rays of the sun and therefore production of vitamin D, and it shouldn't be a shock that we need more vitamin D. Most foods don't have naturally occurring vitamin D, so we "fortify" foods by adding it in. This makes it very hard to maintain normal levels.

Therefore, the best way to build more vitamin D in your body is to supplement.

It can be fair to assume 200 – 5000IU of vitamin D3 is needed daily to maintain current levels, and higher doses can be necessary. There is perceived misconception that because vitamin D is stored in our fat, taking too much—or any—can become toxic. Rest assured: Toxicity symptoms are a rarity, and have only been noted when really high doses (50,000IU) are used for many years.

Winter isn't over yet! It's a good time to add vitamin D to your daily regimen.

Written by Brandi Grimmer, nutritional consultant, Keystone Nutrition. Brandi completed her certification as a Nutritional Consultant through Natural Healing College and graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in Human Biology. She is a Licensed Pharmacy Technician with over 10 years of experience. Brandi believes total health is dependent on proper diet, exercise and nutritional supplementation.

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