We regularly talk about how important movement and nutrition are for living a healthy lifestyle, but we never talk about the smaller pieces of the puzzle.
Vitamins and minerals are needed for a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. Your doctor doesn’t tell you to eat a well balanced diet for fun, it’s imperative.
Deficiency in vitamin d is very popular, but regularly misdiagnosed.
Learning more about vitamin d is going to be important so you can skip the symptoms and take care of your body.
What happens when your vitamin d is low
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin d is basically a hormone within the body. Every cell has a receptor/need for it. So when your levels are low, they whole body reacts.
Symptoms of low vitamin d are:
• Frequently getting sick
• Fatigue and tiredness
• Slow wound healing
• Hair loss
• Muscle pain
Like I said, the symptoms of low vitamin d aren’t things you would connect with a low vitamin level, but it can be very detrimental. Low levels of vitamin d for long periods of time can also lead to bone loss and osteoporosis…not good.
This is why it is so important to always look at the bigger picture when it comes to your health. Because depression symptoms could be from low vitamin d, but you might just go get medicated instead when you don’t need to. So always test your levels.
What causes vitamin d deficiency
In a 2011 study, 46% of Americans are deficient in vitamin d. That is a huge number for something that can be fixed by simply spending more time outside. There are some other risk factors for low vitamin d levels, these include:
• Dark skin color
• Old age (elderly)
• Obesity or overweight
• Limited fish and dairy consumption
• Living with limited sunshine
• Staying indoors
Depending on where you live, and the lifestyle you live, vitamin d levels can drop quickly. This is why we need to be eating a balanced diet, or supplementing with vitamin d3.
Top benefits of taking vitamin d
First and foremost, the main benefits of vitamin d is having a high functioning…system. Vitamin d is necessary for daily function, more than you think. But there may be some other sneak benefits you don’t know about.
Vitamin D has been known to help fight disease. Studies have proven that vitamin d can help with heart disease, multiple sclerosis and even something as simple as the flu.
Vitamin D minimizes depression. It might be because being outside helps our mental health, but the increase in vitamin d levels do play a role in mood overall.
Vitamin D decreases risk of osteoporosis. There are a lot of people who don’t eat dairy (myself included) so we lose out on that calcium. This is why it is important to supplement where there may be gaps in your intake.
We live in different climates, live different lifestyles, and eat different diets. This is why supplementation is so important.
How much vitamin D do you need?
The amount of vitamin d needed for the average person is 1000-4000 IU, as suggested by the US Institute of Medicine. Now, this is going to vary depending on where you live. If you live where the sun doesn’t regularly shine, or certain parts of the year are extremely dark, then supplementation may increase.
The only way to know if more supplementation is needed is by getting blood levels checked. A sufficient amount of vitamin d in the blood is above 20-30 ng/ml.
You may be able to get to these numbers with sun exposure and diet practices, or you may need to add in some supplementation.
Best ways to increase vitamin d levels
Increasing vitamin d levels can happen in several ways. You can clearly do it through supplementation, or you can do it through other means.
• Spend time outside in the sunshine. Not only is this going to just boost your mood and make you a better human, it will increase your vitamin d levels as well. If you are always in the sun with 80% SPF, it may not be as beneficial. So a 30-40% SPF still allows you to get some vitamin d.
• Consume fatty fish and seafood. These contain high levels of vitamin d3, and is easily digested and used within the body.
• Try a UV lamp. For those who don’t have sunlight part of the year, a lamp could be a great addition. You could set it on your desk and get vitamin d while working. A lot call it a “happy lamp” and it’s the perfect name. Vitamin d helps with seasonal depression, leading to happiness.
A lot of the world is depressed, and a lot of it comes from limited vitamin d. Seattle, the midwest in winter, Alaska…these places go through times with limited sunshine; which plummets vitamin d and leaves you with mood disorders, not wanting to move and eating pizza instead of salad. It is a trickle effect. So in order to get adequate blood levels, these options need to be implemented.
Food sources of vitamin D
Diet is a great way to increase vitamin d levels, and to also just make sure you are eating a well rounded diet that will give you benefits all around. Here are some great food sources for vitamin d.
• Canned tuna
• Egg yolks
• Cow’s milk
• Swiss cheese
• Fortified yogurt
These are all great vitamin d sources, and are easily accessible. Adding these into your diet weekly can really help vitamin d levels, as well as boost your overall health.
Are there any side effects when taking vitamin d
Like anything, too much of a good thing can be detrimental. This is why you shouldn’t just supplement without knowing your levels.
Vitamin d toxicity, called hypervitaminosis D, is rare but can be potentially serious. This only happens from over supplementation of vitamin d, not too much sun or salmon.
Symptoms of vitamin d toxicity are:
• Bone pain
• Kidney problems
• Loss of appetite
• Frequent urination
• Weight loss
• Excessive thirst
• Ringing in the ear
• High blood pressure
• Kidney stones
So this is definitely not something to take lightly.
Always get your levels checked before supplementing.
If you do feel some symptoms of low vitamin d levels, go see your doctor. It is a simple blood test that could help you feel so much better.
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