Do you get enough vitamin D? How do you even know if you’re getting enough? Vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins for our health. In fact, some healthcare professionals now believe that achieving optimal vitamin D levels is more important than balancing any other hormone. Even in Florida, where many people spend their days under the sun, vitamin D levels can be low. Chances are, you need to boost vitamin D production in your body, or take a high-quality vitamin D supplement. Let’s take a closer look at how much vitamin D you need, and why it matters.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that supports your body’s functioning in a number of ways. Your body produces it naturally, with the help of the sun, and stores it in your liver and fat tissues. The more body fat you have, the more it’s going to absorb your stores of vitamin D, inhibiting it from being used by the body as needed.
Unlike most other vitamins and minerals, which we get from food, vitamin D is produced by our bodies, assuming we’re giving our bodies what they need in order to make it. When we expose ourselves to the sun’s UV-B rays, our skin produces vitamin D. It then turns into a hormone, which we need for a healthy immune response, brain health, skeletal structural support, and mood. So, vitamin D isn’t just a vitamin, it’s also an important hormone, making it crucial for so many health-related aspects of your life.
A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals just how essential vitamin D is for preventing cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disease. Even pregnancy issues can arise due to a lack of vitamin D.
Causes of vitamin D deficiency
Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D. Here’s why:
- We don’t get outside enough and aren’t getting enough direct sunlight on our skin
- We use sunscreens that block vitamin D production
- We have plastics in our body (especially if we drink from plastic water bottles)
- Our bodies are full of toxins, which negatively impact our liver, preventing it from storing vitamin D the way nature intended
What happens if you have a vitamin D deficiency?
Surprising fact: the majority of people living in the U.S. are vitamin D deficient. It’s believed that 75% of caucasians in America seriously lack vitamin D. And nowadays, even Latinos and darker-skinned ethnicities living in the U.S. are also deficient due to our modern, indoor lifestyle. In fact, a 2010 report states that 90% of pigmented Americans (those of Asian, Black, or Spanish descent) are officially vitamin D deficient.
You might notice these symptoms if you are deficient in this essential vitamin:
- Immune issues
- Mood swings
- Hormonal imbalances
- Difficulty losing weight
- Trouble gaining muscle
- Poor digestion
Some of the more dangerous outcomes of chronic vitamin D deficiency are cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and various infectious diseases. For these reasons, doctors are prescribing vitamin D supplements more and more these days. However, not all supplements are created equal. We’ll explore this further on.
How to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D
While many people think you can get enough vitamin D through food sources like vitamin D fortified milk and fatty fish, this simply isn’t the case. There’s no substitute for sunlight on your skin. It’s the only way to get enough, the way nature intended. When you expose your skin to the sun for about 10-15 minutes, assuming you’re not covering your skin with sunscreen, you’ll absorb the recommended amount of daily vitamin D — 10,000 units.
This number is approximate, as it varies from person to person depending upon skin tone. But, that’s roughly the amount of vitamin D you receive naturally via 10 minutes of sun exposure. No supplement or food source can compete. If you have darker skin, it doesn’t produce vitamin D as easily. This means you need to expose yourself to the sun for a bit longer — say, 40 minutes to 1 hour each day.
However, there are times when you simply can’t get the vitamin D you need from the sun — for example, during the winter, or if you live in a cooler climate. Therefore, most people can benefit from taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement.
How much vitamin D do you need?
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is only 400 – 800 units per day; however, some studies suggest this isn’t nearly enough to maintain optimal blood levels. Some health experts are now recommending as much as 8,000 units per day.
Another suggestion for calculating your own vitamin D needs is to take 1,000 units per 25 pounds of body weight. So if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 6,000 units per day. Most supplements, especially a multivitamin, won’t come anywhere closer to these levels, so read labels carefully.
Also make sure you’re taking the vitamin D3 form (not vitamin D2). Take your supplements with your fattiest meal of the day. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it needs a good fat source to be absorbed properly. Healthy fat sources include coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, or almond butter. If you take fish oil supplements, take your vitamin D with your fish oil, as fish oil counts as a healthy fat source.
Top foods to eat for vitamin D deficiency
It’s important to note that, while these foods contain vitamin D, their amount is minor when compared to sun exposure and high-quality vitamin D3 supplements.
- Wild caught salmon
- Fatty fish
As you can see, your hormonal health, immune health, bone health, and emotional health all rely upon optimal levels of vitamin D. Not too mention, your risk for cancer and heart disease will decrease dramatically. Adequate vitamin D even helps you lose weight! It’s a necessary weight-loss vitamin and hormone.
At Elite Physique, we believe an equal balance of nutrition, activity, rest, and confidence is the foundation for achieving a healthier you. Our personalized weight-loss programs are custom-tailored to help you meet your goals and to address the underlying factors that can make weight-loss difficult. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!