Fitness Facts: Shedding light on Vitamin D
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Deficiencies in Vitamin D, “the sunshine” vitamin, are becoming more prevalent – even in the Valley of the Sun.
According to an article from medicinenet.com, Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are now a global public health problem affecting an estimated 1 billion people.
“Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K),” the article stated. “There are two forms of vitamin D, D2 and D3. Vitamin D2, also known as ergocalciferol, comes from fortified foods, plant foods and supplements. Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, comes from fortified foods, animal foods (fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and liver), supplements, and can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This is why Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin.
“The majority of our knowledge about Vitamin D has been discovered over the past 15 years, and with the growing issue of deficiencies, more health connections with Vitamin D levels are being made.”
Common concerns include:
Skeletal disease: Low calcium levels lead to osteopenia, osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. Supplementing 700-1,000 IU/day of Vitamin D3 has been shown to possibly reduce falls by 19 to 26 percent. Vitamin D3 at a dosage of greater than 800 IU/day given with calcium has been shown to reduce the risk of fractures by 10 to 15 percent.
Infections: Do you tend to get more respiratory infections in the winter? Vitamin D deficiency could be the cause. Observational studies have shown an association between low vitamin D status and an increased risk of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections
Depression: Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an 8 to 14 percent increase in depression.
Studies have shown that maintaining normal levels of Vitamin D also can:
- Reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Decrease inflammation
- Reduce the risk of allergies in children and adolescents
Could you be deficient and not be aware? The answer is “yes.”
Are you experiencing these symptoms?
- Getting sick more often?
- Are you always tired and never feel rested?
- Are you experiencing muscle pain and fatigue?
- Are you experiencing pain in your back?
- Are you experiencing pain in your bones?
- Do you feel really down?
- Are you feeling more anxious than usual?
If you answered “yes” to several of the questions above or would like to know your current levels, consult your primary doctor or come see us at the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic for more information and testing.
It takes a simple blood test called 25-hydroxyvitamin D, written as 25(OH)D. This is the most accurate measure of your current status because it reflects what you get from your diet, supplements and the sun.
The good news is that most of these conditions are reversible with Vitamin D3 supplementation.
How much Vitamin D should you take to maintain levels and prevent deficiency? According to the Endocrine Society, the recommended amount is 1,500-2,000 U of Vitamin D3 daily.