Welcome back! Last week, we talked about the challenges we all face on a daily basis. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.
This week, we are going to talk about Vitamin D. (photo credit: Getty Images) Many know about its importance, but may not realize what your body also needs in order to properly absorb this vital nutrient.
What Is Vitamin D?
PubMed.gov explains to us that, “Vitamin D, (is) an essential nutrient with versatile functions in nearly all organs“. The article goes on to say, “Sufficient vitamin D prevents the occurrence of rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. The adequate nutritional intake of vitamin D and calcium are the basis for the prevention and management of osteoporosis, a disease-producing brittle bones that are prone to fractures. Vitamin D has been implicated in the regulation of neuromuscular function and in reducing the risk of falls, a major cause of bone fractures. Thus vitamin D may be a central component of musculoskeletal health through its beneficial effects on muscle function and bone stability“.
It Gets A Little More Complicated…
PubMed explains that the “action of vitamin D by the active metabolite 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], is not limited to its endocrine function in bone metabolism. The active metabolite behaves as a hormone and binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) present in nearly all tissues of the human body.
“In addition, the 1-alpha-hydroxylase enzyme is present not only in the kidney but also in many other organs. Both vitamin and enzyme exert their biological effects via paracrine/autocrine actions related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and the immune system. Thus vitamin D may show favorable effects in many organs and play a significant role in the maintenance of general health“.
That’s A Lot…Is That A Lot?
Yes. It can be overwhelming to read something like this, especially if you don’t have a medical background. The bottom line to what you just read is this: Your body needs Vitamin D to be healthy. WebMD breaks it down for us. “Your body uses it to absorb minerals like calcium and phosphorus. That makes your teeth and bones strong. Vitamin D also supports your muscles, nerves, and immune system. You can get it from (the) sunshine on your skin and from eating eggs, fatty fish, and fortified foods like milk and cereal“.
Why Would My Body Be Low On Vitamin D?
There could be several reasons why your body doesn’t have enough Vitamin D. In states like Oregon, where there is often more cloud cover than sunshine, residents are often low on Vitamin D. Our body gets D from the sun and foods we eat. Some people’s bodies don’t hold on to Vitamin D like they should or it leaves their bodies faster than most.
How Would I Know If I Was Low?
There are numerous symptoms that go along with low D levels. Here are just a few:
Your wounds don’t heal as quickly as they should.
You develop Osteoporosis. This is when your bones develop open spaces, or pockets of space in the bone. Low Vitamin D makes it harder for your body to keep your bones strong. This can lead to bone fractures if you fall.
Muscle pain is a very common sign of low D.
You develop Rickets. Mama’s who are low in D and give birth may have a baby that is born with this condition that stunts growth and softens and misshapes growing bones. Additionally, if you breastfeed your infants, you will need to take a supplement, as most breast milk doesn’t have enough D in it. Experts say breastfeeding infants need an extra 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Check with your doctor to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.
You develop osteomalacia. This is a condition that, unlike Rickets which is seen mostly in children, develops into adulthood. The Mayo Clinic tells us that this condition, “refers to a marked softening of your bones, most often caused by severe vitamin D deficiency. The softened bones of children and young adults with osteomalacia can lead to bowing during growth, especially in weight-bearing bones of the legs. Osteomalacia in older adults can lead to fractures“.
According to WebMD, “There is some evidence that vitamin D levels could have an effect on diabetes (types 1 and 2) high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, and some types of cancer“.
Are Some People More At Risk Of Low D Than Others?
Yes. People of Color don’t absorb sunlight as readily as needed. Their dark skin protects them from the rays, which is a good thing in one way, but in terms of Vitamin D absorption, not so much.
People that live with conditions such as Irritable Bowel Disease also have trouble keeping their D levels up, because the body needs fat to properly use D. Celiac disease and cystic fibrosis also make it harder for you to absorb fat, and that can mean you need more vitamin D to keep your levels up.
Gastric Bypass surgery causes one to restrict caloric intake, often leading to low levels of D.
While fat is needed to process the D, it’s a fine line. People who are obese have too much fat under their skin, which changes the way the body absorbs the vitamin, often leading to lower levels.
OK, I Saw Myself In Some Of Those Symptoms And Risks. Now What?
It’s easy peasy. Just ask your doctor for a simple blood test that will reveal your levels. If you are seriously low, your doctor may prescribe a very high dose of Vitamin D to get your body back on track and then recommend a daily supplement to keep you there.
Great! So I Just Swallow A Pill And All Is Well?
No. Health Shots Explains that it isn’t that simple. Life rarely is, right? Here’s the good news…they had answers for us so that we can be successful Vitamin D users!
- Timing is everything. Take your supplement with a meal, not a snack or your morning cup of coffee, a meal.
- For better absorption of vitamin D, you must include vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc in your diet. They speed up the absorption procedure.
- If you are on a strict diet and have been avoiding healthy fats, then vitamin D will never be able to penetrate deep in the body. Ghee or oil taken in moderation was one suggestion by Health Shots. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient, it needs healthy fat for better absorption. They suggest eating 3 to 4 spoons of oil or ghee daily.
- Fortified cereals and milk will also aid in absorbtion.
- Avoid stress, which can lead to gastrointestinal issues, and add a probiotic to your routine.
- If you eat meat, fish and seafood are good natural sources for Vitamin D.
- Try and get 5 to 20 minutes of sun daily, without sunblock.
Can You Just Give Me A List Of Foods High In D?
Sure! Here you go…
- Fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
There you have it, Dear Readers. I hope this helped you understand how important Vitamin D can be in your life. Get tested and see if you are one of many, many people who need a little boost of D in your life!
Have a fantastic week, and we will meet here again next Wednesday to share another Cup of Coffee.
Editors note: This blog is not a replacement for sound medical advice, and many diseases, disorders, and syndromes have symptoms that overlap. Only a qualified medical professional can diagnose you. That said, if you think this blog may be helpful to others, please hit the Facebook Icon and share it on your personal pages. Thank you for reading us, we really do appreciate you!