Every year around this time I send out this reminder of the importance of Vitamin D. Ideally, the essential vitamin is released into the blood from the skin with exposure to the sun. Because of this, people in this part of the country around this time of the year often are deficient. However, numerous recent studies have led experts to believe that many more are deficient in this nutrient than previously anticipated and supplementation may be necessary year-round.
Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include bone pain and muscle weakness, kidney and lung problems, psoriasis, gum disease, and frequent flu symptoms. Low energy levels, weight gain, and depression are also implicated with deficiency. Chronic deficiencies have been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cognitive problems, asthma, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, 17 different cancers and even multiple sclerosis.
Outside of sun exposure, you can get some Vitamin D from fish oils, egg yolks and beef liver. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get enough D from diet alone as you would need to eat two servings of mackerel every day to get the recommended dosage. Couple this with low sun exposure and Vitamin D supplementation is often a good idea. The only question is how often and how much are you supposed to take.
While it is impossible to get too much D from the sun, since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin when you’re taking it orally as a supplement, you can get toxic levels over time. Typically, as long as you’re taking under 5000 I.U.s per day, you will be o.k. The only accurate way to know if you’re deficient or to know when you have enough is through periodic blood testing. Fortunately, many doctors have recently become aware of the importance of the vitamin and are recommending regular testing to their clients. If you should find that you are deficient and decide take a D vitamin, make certain you’re supplementing with D3. Learn more about the importance of this vitamin and talk to your doctor about blood testing.