Vitamin D – The top 5 reasons you need it!

Vitamin D and the Top 5 reasons you need it

Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins and you are most likely deficient. Let me tell you more about it and 5 reasons you need it.

Our bodies are very good at taking what we eat and converting it into what we need. Heck, that is its main function: convert food into energy and sustain life. No yoga class or self-help book will get you out of this one. But do you need everything that is advertised for you? Walk into a grocery store or specialty supplement business and you will feel like you definitely need something in there, but what is up to discussion.

vit-d-inAs a doctor, I have learned a lot about the biochemistry of nutrition. Over the years, this knowledge has been helpful to inform my patients about how things work in the body and how we can help improve the process.  After ordering countless blood tests, I have noticed one level that is almost always low. That level is vitamin D.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D3 – Cholecalciferol. Image from Wikipedia.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin found in few food sources. Most notable are fish oil, eggs, mushrooms, and beef liver. It is also produced in our skin when exposed to UV light. Neither dietary nor sun derived vitamin D are active in the body until undergoing changes first in the liver, then in the kidneys. The vitamin is sub-optimally processed in persons with organ dysfunction or a darker skin color. Vitamin D works in the body as a hormone, meaning it alters our genetic material inside the core (nucleus) of the cell. Optimal levels are discussed and disputed, but a normal level is over 30 ng/ml (75 nmol/ml).

Vitamin D comes in may forms, but the two that we ingest are D2, especially found in mushrooms, and D3, from fatty fish, yolks, and beef liver. Commercially available D3 also can come from wool grease, known as lanolin, and is found in many creams and cosmetics.

1. Better Bone Health

Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb and regulate calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is deposited into our bones and teeth, which strengthens them. Perhaps the most well known use for vitamin D is to prevent rickets (osteomalacia), which is a disease less well known to the developed world particularly due to supplementation. Rickets is a softening of the long bones which causes them to become brittle, bow, or in severe cases, break. Several studies in older adults revealed that low vitamin D levels correlated with a greater risk for fracture, especially the hip. This leads to increased risk of death.

2. Stronger Immunity

By strengthening the bodies innate defence mechanisms and weakening the adaptive response cascade, vitamin D is a double edged sword when it comes to immune health. Your body has cells called “natural killer” cells. These are always circulating in the body, helping to destroy cells that have changed for the worse. Yes, cancer cells are popping up in everyones body all the time, and natural killer cells take them out before they can proliferate. Vitamin D supports these cells and it essential for their optimal function. It also helps prevent over action of immune cells that could cause autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D and its role as an anti-inflammatory are being studied with implications in heart disease, diabetes, stroke, asthma, and cancer among others.

3. Increase Fertility

Since vitamin D works in the body as a hormone, it is not a surprise that it is essential to maintain the balance of other hormones. It reduces the circulating amount of estrogen and progesterone, which in excess, can cause difficulty with conception. Another example is women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Studies show that women deficient in vitamin D have more severe disease progression. Low vitamin D levels in the mother while pregnant increase the risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, and low baby birthweight.

4. Reduce Depression

A recent study showed that otherwise healthy women with low vitamin D levels had more depressed thoughts and mood that women with normal levels. Low D equals low mood. Many experience this firsthand when winter arrives. Less sunlight affects mood negatively for many, an extreme version being Seasonal Affective Disorder.

5. More Energy

Vitamin D has been shown to increase overall energy. A study compared two groups, one with supplementation, and the other without. Then they were asked to cycle 20 min before the experiment started and then again after 4 weeks. The supplement group could cycle longer and at greater exertion with less effort than the control group. Vitamin D also helps to maintain a deeper, more restful sleep, which in turn will give you more energy throughout the day.

How much do you need a day?

General guidelines will tell you that 400 IU (10 mcg) is enough daily. The upper recommended allowance is 4000 IU (100 mcg). That is a 10-fold difference, so use your head. Everything in moderation, I say. Personally, I recommend 2000 IU (50 mcg) to the average adult, pregnant woman included. Children need a little less, under 1000 IU daily, though interesting, elderly need even more, 5000 IU daily.

How to get more vitamin D:

Vitamin D, being the sunshine vitamin, means you can get what you need through sun exposure. However, this has to be without sunscreen. It is widely accepted that 15 minutes of direct sun exposure to the face and hands is enough for a daily minimum of vitamin D. But what about dark winters, cloudy days, or a desk job that prevents you from good daylight exposure?  Or the sunscreen we need to prevent skin cancer?

You can also get enough vitamin D from food. The daily minimum is not so hard, eat a portion of fatty fish daily or a teaspoon of fish oil, but that may not be enough so here are a few examples of getting 2000 IU in food. Fried, boiled, or baked foods usually retain 75% of baseline vitamin D.vitamin d

  • Salmon or Mackerel, cooked – 1 pound or 1/2 kg
  • Egg Yolk, cooked – 100
  • Beef Liver, cooked – 2.2 pounds or 1 kg
  • Portobello mushrooms, grilled – 1 pound or 1/2 kg
  • Milk, fortified – 20 cups
  • Fish Oil, from bottle – 5 tsp

Yikes! That seems like a bit much even though you have all those choices! A tablet supplement is in my opinion the simplest option, though fish oil is not so bad when you start using it, especially lemon flavor. Fish oil will also give you added vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.

These vitamin D drops are great, allergy free, and give back to charity.  Norwegian Fish Oil has the added benefits of omega-3s and contains both vitamin A and D. Or you can try capsules, which are tiny and easy to swallow.

Now get to your health care provider, get tested for vitamin D, and get supplementing! Doctor’s orders.

 

Disclaimer: I am a doctor, but I am not your doctor. All opinions above are my own. Use your own judgement and speak with your doctor to get tested for a baseline Vitamin D level and or if you have any questions regarding supplementation. This post contains affiliate links.

 

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32 Comments

  1. Reply

    Kristin

    January 30, 2017

    Such a helpful post! I suffer from PCOS and despite having a healthy pregnancy ended up with preeclampsia after an emergency C-section. I always wondered why that happened since it’s rare to develop after you give birth, but maybe this is the cause. My recent bloodwork actually showed that I am deficient. I’m definitely going to be spending more time out in the sun and eating vitamin D rich foods!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      January 30, 2017

      Thank you Kristin for sharing your story. Vitamin deficiencies are often overlooked or their importance is downplayed. Rare complications are not so rare after all! I am very happy that my article shed some light on the subject. Good luck!

  2. Reply

    Shay R

    February 2, 2017

    Great Tips!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Thank you Shay!

  3. Reply

    Megan | Red Around The World

    February 2, 2017

    This is uper helpful, and something I probably need for the winter not going outside a whole lot!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Hey Megan. You need Vitamin D during winter for sure, but many also need it during summer despite getting more natural sunlight. A supplement will help keep your levels steady.

  4. Reply

    Danielle Ferrie

    February 2, 2017

    Thanks for this! I found your blog through boost your blog fb group and I love that you are a blogger and a dr! I do take vitamin D every day and these facts are great to know!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Thank you Danielle. I want to post a lot more health related articles. Use what you know, right?

  5. Reply

    GiGi Eats Celebrities

    February 2, 2017

    VITAMIN D is my JAMMMMM!!! And apparently I have LOADS of it circulating my body, so I AM GOOD to go! 😛

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Great news! Wonderful website! I see that you are definitely taking care of your vitamin needs with all those amazing recipes.

  6. Reply

    Liz

    February 2, 2017

    Thanks for this – I really needed this. I was told to take Vit. D but I’m really lazy with tablets and then I couldn’t find veggie/vegan capsules. Must get on it!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Hey! Im pretty sure that your local health food or Whole Foods store can help, through Amazon and Vitamin Shoppe have lots of choices if you choose to buy online. Maybe you are lazy because your energy levels are down due to low D 🙂 Good luck!

  7. Reply

    Isi

    February 2, 2017

    I work in a dark room all day (photo studio) so me and all of my coworkers have a serious lack of vitamin D.

    Need to spread this article around!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Good idea! We forget that dark rooms or even rooms with windows block out the UV rays we need to increase our natural vitamin D levels. Supplements would definitely be important for you and your colleagues!

  8. Reply

    Deena Douglas

    February 3, 2017

    It’s so important to get enough Vitamin D, and many people still don’t realize it. It’s really easy to find out if you need Vitamin D with a blood test. I’ve been taking 5000 iu daily of Thorne Vitamin D/K drops, and my blood test shows my Vitamin D levels are very good. 🙂

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 3, 2017

      Wonderful news! Keep up the gooD work 🙂

  9. Reply

    Aleksandra

    February 9, 2017

    Great!<3

  10. Reply

    Danielle

    February 10, 2017

    I love this! I take Vitamin D3 everyday and I also take Cod Liver Oil. Totally can tell the difference in my mood and body.

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 14, 2017

      Thanks for sharing Danielle. It is nice to hear that the vitamin D, and especially fish oil, are improving your life.

  11. Reply

    Sarah

    February 13, 2017

    It’s such an important vitamin yet I always seem to forget about it (and I’m a doctor too!!!). I’m most definitely deficient living in the Highlands of Scotland where there’s only 6 hours of daylight in the winter! Thanks for the reminder, I’ve put it high on my to-do list this week. 🙂

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 13, 2017

      Im so happy the article was fruitful for you! My mood is lifting every day over here as the sun stays up that little bit longer. Gotta get that D 🙂

  12. Reply

    Roli Edema (@roliedema)

    February 13, 2017

    Awesome post! There are so many benefits of vitamin D. Like you said, it’s not that hard to incorporate vitamin D in your diet. I love salmon and mackerel so it’s good to know they’re doing me good ;).

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 14, 2017

      Keep eating those delicious fishes. So many additional micronutrients in whole foods.

  13. Reply

    Shorikka

    February 17, 2017

    Awesome blog. I love health amd wellness. So into it. Cool blog. Had a physical and my doctor said I am in need of vitamin D. Been taking vitamins, but your post is really helpful.

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      February 20, 2017

      Good to hear I could help. Vitamin D is absorbed differently by everyone, and a multivitamin usually has not enough Vit D for the average person.

  14. Reply

    Lilly Moore

    February 18, 2017

    What a great post, Vitamin D is really important!

  15. Reply

    whimsicalwolfblog

    March 12, 2017

    I am so glad I happened across this blog post. I have a vitamin D deficiency and get it from my doctor. Its nice to learn all about it in your post! Thank you for sharing this post. I had no idea vitamin D was responsible for so many things. I am Brandy, and I am new to the blogging community, so its nice to meet you. God Bless and keep you and yours! http://whimsicalwolfblog.com/

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      March 21, 2017

      Great to hear that Brandy 🙂 Welcome to this wonderful world of blogging and I hope to work closer soon 🙂

  16. Reply

    Jenna@athomewithkids.com

    March 14, 2017

    Very interesting artical. I just recently had family members have to increase their vitamin d intake so this post was very helpful in understanding it a bit more. Thank you.

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      March 21, 2017

      So happy I could help. Vitamin D is so important for big and small 🙂

  17. Reply

    Lianne

    March 23, 2017

    I started taking Vitamin D pills and almost immediately felt happier and less irritable. I take it every day!

    • Reply

      livelaughmakelove

      March 25, 2017

      Love this! I feel the same way! It really does give you an energy boost.

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