What comes to mind when you think of Vitamin D?
Fortified milk? Sunlight? Healthy bones?
All three are critical in certain aspects of vitamin D. As children, we are encouraged to drink milk fortified with vitamin D, whether or not we understood the relationship between calcium and vitamin D (which helps our bodies absorb calcium), we drank up. We were told that milk with vitamin D is like ‘liquid sunshine’, given that nature’s best way to obtain vitamin D is to soak up some rays at least 15 minutes daily.Specifically, when referring to ‘vitamin D’, we are referring to Cholecalficerol, which is D-3 (Ergocalciferol is D-2). It is actually a precursor hormone, an important one that works with Calcitrol (a steroid hormone).We’ve always known that D is related to strong bones and healthy teeth, but there is more to that childhood lesson and deserves another discussion.
Vitamin D works with other nutrients and hormones in your body on a cellular level to promote normal cell growth and maintain a hormonal balance as well as a healthy immune system.Researchers are now drawing attention to the correlation between adequate levels of D and warding off seasonal influenza.
How can I increase my daily intake?
Diet.Select whole foods that are dense in nutrients.If your diet currently does not include vitamin D rich foods, such as salmon, cod liver oil, eggs and fortified drinks, chances are that you are already deficient.
Sunlight.If your lifestyle doesn’t encourage you to seek sun daily, you are missing the best source vitamin D. That said, don’t forget the sunblock! What is often overlooked in the Muslim community is the fact that veiled women are most likely not receiving the benefit from sunlight as the best source of vitamin D and are at high risk of deficiency. Studies from Middle-eastern countries have reported case after case of women who had low levels of D3.
Supplement.If the body produced vitamin D itself (by exposing skin to sunlight), it would produce 3,000 to 10,000 IU daily! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendation of a daily allowance (RDA) of only 400 to 600 IU is clearly deficient. Select a supplement of D3, but first consult with your physician to determine the additional amount your body requires.
Know the symptoms of deficiency.Muscle pain; weakness; headaches; low-energy/fatigue; sleep irregularities; mood swings; symptoms of depression.
Get tested.Testing for deficiency is a simple blood test at your internist’s office. The physician will order a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also called a 25(OH)D. Dark-skinned and veiled women who may experience some of the symptoms should consider testing for vitamin D deficiency.Darker skin reduces the skin’s ability to convert sunlight into vitamin D; similarly, veiled women.
Levels of D3.So you got tested, where do you fit in?
Excessive vitamin D (see note on toxicity) 100 ng/mL
Proposed optimal range 50–70 ng/mL
Suboptimal 30–50 ng/mL
Deficient <30 ng/mL
Overt vitamin D deficiency <20 ng/mL
Seriously deficient<10 ng/mL
References and Resources
- Researchers Find One Vitamin Protects Against Leading Cause of Blindness (liveinthenow.com)
- Calcium And Vitamin D Helping Keep Teeth Healthy (dentalspecialistsofnewyork.wordpress.com)
- What much do you know about Vitamin D? (mistygauthier.net)