What You Need to Know About Vitamin D

By: Carrie Dennie, ND, RAc

Vitamin D is essential for optimal health as it plays a role in every system in the body. The activated form of Vitamin D is actually a hormone and important for cellular communication. Research has shown that almost every cell in your body has a receptor for this hormone and that it affects the health of your skin, brain, bones, blood sugar, hormone balance, joint health, cardiovascular system, mood and more. Sufficient levels of Vitamin D are also shown to reduce the risk for developing cancer and autoimmune disease.

You may have heard common sources of Vitamin D include sunshine and dairy products. It is true that the sun is the best source of vitamin D. It is called the “sunshine vitamin” because our bodies can make it from exposure to the UVB rays in the sunlight. However, most Americans are still deficient in vitamin D because we spend the majority of time indoors and when we do go outside in the warmer months, we are encouraged to put on sunscreen which blocks the absorption of the UVB rays. Milk and milk derived products like cheese are usually fortified with vitamin D. This dates back to the early 1900s when Rickets, a childhood disease involving the soft and weak bones, was very prevalent in the US.

There are several factors that can affect your vitamin D levels. Including lack of exposure to sunshine (especially in the winter months), darker skin, stress, pregnancy and your genetics. Most Americans are still deficient in Vitamin D and likely need to add a supplement to your daily routine.

Before you buy a vitamin D supplement, you should first get your blood levels tested. This will determine whether your levels are deficient, within normal limits or too high. I recommend finding a trained professional, who understands the importance of vitamin D and its cofactors and the correct supplemental form. It is important to have follow up testing done, to ensure your level is within the ideal range and that you are taking the right amount to maintain it.

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