Do the dark rainy days of winter in Seattle have you feeling sluggish?
The reason is, we are solar powered. Yes it’s true. The scientific/medical community is finally getting on board with what nutritionists have known for a long time. WE NEED SUNSHINE. This is not because we are plants, it’s because the sunlight activates critical chemicals in our skin that affect our metabolism. This chemical is known as Vitamin D. In fact, 30 minutes exposure to the whole body in a tropical location produces about 20,000 units of Vitamin D. With our lifestyles keeping us mostly indoors during peak sun times and the use of sunscreen, we clearly are at risk for a deficiency of Vitamin D throughout the year.
How big is the low Vitamin D issue?
It is huge! Anyone living north of a line that goes across North America through Los Angeles, Phoenix and St. Louis does not make enough Vitamin D from November through February at least. If you live in Canada, the issue is extended from September through March.
The following is excerpted from one of the current studies:
African-Americans, the elderly, and the obese face added risk. Because melanin in the skin acts as an effective and ever-present sunscreen, dark-skinned people need much longer UVB exposure times to generate the same 25(OH)D stores as fair-skinned individuals. (46) The elderly make much less vitamin D than 20-year-olds after exposure to the same amount of sunlight. (47) Body fat absorbs vitamin D, thus obesity is a major risk factor for deficiency, with obese African-Americans at an even higher risk. (48) Anyone who works indoors, lives at higher latitudes, wears excessive clothing, regularly uses sunblock, is dark-skinned, obese, aged, or who consciously avoids the sun is at high risk for vitamin D deficiency.
What happens if we do not get enough Vitamin D?
The list is long. Every cell in the body is affected. To begin, “D” is essential for helping our bodies absorb calcium and send it to the bones. “D” is also vital in improving balance and muscle strength. Chronic inflammation is reduced by having adequate Vitamin D in the system. Harvard University researchers found that Vitamin D also reduces tumor growth.
Insulin regulation and diabetes are possibly affected by adequate amounts of “D”. The immune system is clearly affected by Vitamin D. Syndromes of Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteo Arthritis are in the class of auto-immune conditions helped by this essential fat-soluble vitamin. Researchers estimate that our current systemic levels of Vitamin D are about 10-15% of the levels in our ancestors.
How much is enough?
This varies to some degree. Most dietary supplements provide 400 IU at suggested intake levels. Compare this with sun exposure at 10,000 -30,000 IU per day. Unfortunately, our dietary sources are inadequate in the winter. How much is needed is not as much of a mystery any more. When supplemental Vitamin D is added to the diet, recent studies indicate the intake amount should be in the range of 1,000 – 4,000 IU daily. There is a simple blood test to determine existing levels and to monitor increased intake. Toxicity is rare and not fatal and simply stopping supplementation is the antidote.
We attempt to supplement Vitamin D by consuming dairy products that have been fortified. However, due to many of us restricting whole milk and fat containing dairy, we lose a common channel of delivery.
Another common source for dietary Vitamin D is Cod Liver Oil. However, this is not recommended for increased intake of Vitamin D because another component of Cod Liver Oil is Vitamin A. We do know that too much Vitamin A is not good. For this reason, I have some alternatives. It is quite easy to add 4,000 IU of Vitamin D into your diet every day with just two drops of liquid Vitamin D that I recommend as a necessary adjunct to every health improvement program.
If you’d like to get more information on Vitamin D supplementation or need nutritional advice, please feel free to contact us.