Lord knows we don't have very much sunshine this time of year, not only in the St. Louis area but a good portion of the Midwest, as well. This seems to be when we get snow, cloudy weather, and just some crummy days. If you've noticed your mood is starting to mimic the weather, you may need an extra dose of the sunshine vitamin.
The most frequent complaint I hear around this time of year is, “I don’t feel good… I’m tired all the time… I can’t shake this cold… I’m emotional.” My Natural response is to prescribe a little bit of sunshine – Vitamin D.
For our purposes in this article, we are going to focus on 1 of the 5 types of Vitamin D, which is Vitamin D3.
There’s a reason flu season begins in November. It is not the month with the highest germ count, but it’s the month that everyone’s immune systems are severely lacking Vitamin D. Your body treats Vitamin D more like a hormone than a vitamin. That’s because it helps your body with every single cellular function because there are Vitamin D receptors in every single cell of your body. It has 2000 functions in your body, so if you have a deficiency it's a very big deal.
Are you deficient?
The answer is most likely “yes” considering most adults around this time of year never receive enough Vitamin D. The symptoms are vague, but here is general list of what to look out for:
If this sounds like you, get yourself to a lab, or order a take-home kit because not treating a Vitamin D deficiency will cause more harm to you in the long run. Quest owns a lab, Any Lab Now, that will check your Vitamin D levels for about $25, or there is a take-home kit you can order at www.zrtlab.com.
What are ‘deficient’ numbers?
Any number below 30 is extremely deficient, and you are most likely experiencing inflammation all over your body. Good Vitamin D levels are in the 60s.
What causes the deficiency?
It may be hard to believe that there is such a thing as too much sunscreen. If you know you are going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, by all means, put it on! Otherwise, if you are wearing a moisturizer or lotion with SPF in it, you are blocking your body’s primary source of Vitamin D. In one minute of direct sunlight without sunscreen on your large body parts, your body will make a thousand units of Vitamin D per minute on its own.
- Dark skin
Skin that runs on the darker side will need more time in direct sunlight. Skin that is fair or medium needs about 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight twice per week. If you have darker skin, I recommend about 30-40 minutes of direct sunlight twice per week.
- Lack of sunlight
By not treating your Vitamin D deficiency, you run a greater risk of developing…
- Breast cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Colon cancer
How to start treating:
If your doctor recommends to you to start supplementing Vitamin D, I highly recommend Vitamin D3 because it is more bioavailable, which means your body is going to absorb about two-thirds of it, instead of just one-third of the D2. The biggest mistake I hear doctors tell their patients is to take Calcium and Vitamin D together. That doesn't make any sense because Calcium is a mineral and Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. What you need to take in order to absorb vitamin D is Vitamin K because it will help absorb Vitamin D properly.
Foods with Vitamins D and K.
- Green foods (K)
- Raw dairy products (D3)
- Fatty fish – tuna, salmon, sardines (D3)
- Eggs (D3)
- Mushrooms (D3)
By keeping up with your Vitamin D levels, you are protecting your bones, and immune and hormone systems.
I recommend having your vitamin D levels checked every winter as well as in the summer to make sure that your body is able to manufacture Vitamin D properly in the summer months. I typically recommend 5,000 units daily of Vitamin D3 to my patients from November to March, but if you're not manufacturing Vitamin D, then you might need supplementation year-round. Another thing you want to know is if you've ever had a Vitamin D deficiency in the past, chances are you're going to have it again. Once you develop a vitamin D deficiency one time and you correct it, there is a high percentage of it happening again if you don't regularly supplement with Vitamin D and eat foods rich in Vitamin K, which are your green foods.
Don't forget the kids!
I use a kids’ Vitamin D supplement in a liquid form, which is about 400 units. In a study done by National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, more than 7M children across the US were considered deficient.
- Vitamin D is essential for bone and immune health
- Check your Vitamin D levels
- Begin supplementing with raw Vitamin D3
- Increase Vitamin K intake
- Be the sunshine in these cold, winter months