Welcome to spring! Well – maybe. If you live in the Pacific Northwest you might be feeling like this winter is lingering on, and for good reason. However one of the most significant things that comes with an abnormally long winter are lower exposures of sunshine which directly lead to lower levels of vitamin D. No wonder the “flu season” is usually at the peak of winter!
As many of you may know, vitamin D is a nutrient that functions as a hormone which our bodies produce naturally when exposed to proper amounts of sunshine. How much sunshine is a subject for another time, however the general guideline is that we need roughly 15-30 minutes of DIRECT sunlight exposure (i.e.. not through windows or clothes) to produce necessary amounts of vitamin D. There are also many other factors that need to be taken into account including skin color, weight, and body fat % in determining required amounts of vitamin D.
As research continues to come out, vitamin D is becoming more recognized as an essential nutrient that is connected to all of our bodily functions – and most of us our deficient. This can potentially have major consequences. It is even estimated that roughly 47 percent of all hormone-related cancers are associated with a vitamin D deficiency!
Generally we are more exposed to sunlight in the summer where our bodies will store reserve vitamin D levels, but as the winter months wear on we generally become more deficient. So you can imagine for the average person who has not supplemented most of their lives, this continuing cycle can eventually lead to a significant vitamin D deficiency.
Common symptoms of deficiency can include:
- high blood pressure
- lowered immune system
- insulin resistance
- musculoskeletal dysfunction
An essential nutrient by definition is something that our DNA requires to turn our genes on. As most diseases are environmental in origin, we must take into account the many different influences that we have over our genes, and getting proper amounts of vitamin D should be a major one.
Most nutritional recommendation guidelines are out-dated and based on poor research. Typical recommendations encourage between 1-2,000 IU./day, which are too low to produce much of a benefit. Current-day optimal recommendations cite between 35-40 IU./lb of body weight. So therefor a I’ll woman would need roughly 3,500 – 4,000 IU/day to get our blood serum levels closer to the optimal range. This optimal blood range is also up for debate, but if you take into account the sunlight our ancestors were regularly exposed to, aiming for around 60 ng/mL is a good number to focus on. These are the same ancestors that also had virtually no chronic disease, cancers, heart disease, etc.
Assuming the average population is deficient in vitamin D, and is not on any contraindicated medication, supplementing with around 5,000 IU./day is a healthy recommendation for optimizing blood levels.
The big takeaway is that in today’s world, given the essential need of vitamin D for our cells and the virtually endless amounts of disease correlated to its deficiency provide good reason for us to supplement year round. If you have any further questions in regards to the amount you should be taking, please continue discussing it with your health provider.
Your’s in health,