Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Have you gotten your vitamin D levels tested yet this year?
As we go into the fall & winter months, we should know where our vitamin D levels are at, this allows us to know whether we need to supplement with vitamin D and how much we should supplement with.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and acts as a hormone in the body. It is produced in the body when our skin is exposed UVB lights from sunlight.
Vitamin D is so important for several processes in the body.
Some of these include:
Reducing inflammation in the body
Promoting calcium metabolism to support healthy bone structures and needed for bone growth
Those with lower vitamin D status are at a higher risk for depression, this is why we feel low or ‘sad’ in the winter months, when we’re not exposed to as much sunlight
It’s essential in supporting the immune system
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased susceptibility of infections
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a worse prognosis of cancer
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to some autoimmune diseases
Many people think their levels are sufficient because we’ve just come out of the summer months, but when we look at the blood work, most people are still low in their vitamin D and this is due to a variety of factors that influence vitamin D metabolism.
Factors that influence vitamin D metabolism:
Our skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D decreases as we age, thus we are at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency
Those with limited sun exposure in the summer, or who use sunscreen are at an increased risk for vitamin D deficiency because it blocks our skin from receiving UVB rays which are essential in the synthesis of vitamin D
Those with darker skin are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency because the pigment in their skin, melanin, blocks the UVB rays much like sunscreen would
Health issues that decrease gut absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis etc.… decrease the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D
Obesity, or those with a BMI greater than 30, have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency as our body fat can essentially “hide” our vitamin D, allowing less to be absorbed
It’s important to remember that since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it can be stored in the body’s fat cells. This means that we can have too much vitamin D if we supplement at high doses when we have sufficient levels.
Therefore, it’s always important to check your blood levels of vitamin D & consult a health care professional about how much vitamin D you should be supplementing with!
Dr. Samantha Allen, ND