Natural Ways to Get it
– Sunshine – Most people probably think of the sun when it comes to vitamin D. Some people call it the “sunshine vitamin” because the skin, as our largest organ, can produce vitamin D when exposed to the sun. A major problem is that most of us do not get enough sun exposure. Partially, this happens due to the region some people live in. This happens because there are just not many sunny days or it’s too cold part of the year to be outside and take advantage of it. Those that live close to the equator are more likely to have increased sun exposure. Another reason the sun doesn’t give us enough vitamin D is due to the use of sunscreen. We protect our skin from the ultraviolet light that comes from the sun, to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer.
– Food –Another source of vitamin D can be found in our food, right? Well, as we mentioned in the introduction, it is incredibly difficult to get enough vitamin D through nutrition alone. There are not many foods that contain significant amounts of this vitamin. Fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, oysters, shrimp, fish liver oils and egg yolks contain vitamin D3. Some mushrooms contain vitamin D2. There are also fortified foods that are enriched with vitamin D such as cow’s milk, soymilk, some cereals, and oatmeal.
Why is Supplementation Important?
Many supplements were created because the food available today does not always provide enough of what the body needs to function at its best. Being deficient in vitamin D can cause illness, fatigue, back pain, depression, muscle loss, and more! A deficiency can be a source of muscle weakness, increase bone loss, and the risk of fractures increases. Vitamin D is important for bone maintenance. It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous which are helpful to bone growth. Vitamin D is incredibly important for both bone health and immune function. Because vitamin D is so closely linked to sunshine, sometimes deficiencies show up in the form of fatigue or depression. Often more time in the sun and supplementing vitamin D will help with these symptoms.
How do you know that you’re deficient in vitamin D? Your doctor can request a blood test to check the level of vitamin D in the body. 25(OH)D is measured as this is how vitamin D is stored in the body. The Institute of Medicine suggests that a 25(OH)D greater than 20 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) is a sufficient level. Less than 20 ng/ml is insufficient, and less than 12 ng/ml is deficient. When I had my levels checked, I was surprised to find out that my levels were so low they barely showed up at all in the test… my doctor immediately gave me a high dose prescription for 12 weeks. I had to take one 50,000 IU capsule per week. When that prescription was done, I was told to take at least 2,000 units per day.
The Top Notch Nutrition formula is high potency at 5,000 IU per capsule. You may wonder why this is so high given the recommended daily intake that we mentioned above. For most people, the deficiency is so great that much more than the daily recommended is needed as a daily supplement. One study showed that people with a deficiency needed upwards of 5,000 IU in order for their blood levels to become sufficient (or beyond).
We also want to point out that for a high percentage of the population, getting too much vitamin D is very unlikely. This toxicity is called hypervitaminosis D and occurs when there is too much vitamin D in the body. What problems could occur if your body has too much vitamin D? Calcium can build up in the blood, this is called hypercalcemia. This condition can cause nausea and weakness in the body. Never fear, again this is a very unlikely occurrence, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention it so you’re aware of the possibility. It is suggested that it would take over 60,000 units per day for a long period of time (several months) for it to become toxic to the body. Of course, we always suggest that if you have concerns or other medical conditions to consult your doctor prior to using any supplements.