Even though we live in the Golden State, replete with brilliant sunsets & 80 degree winters, most of us are deficient in vitamin D. Would you believe that up to 90% of adults in the United States are believed to have a vitamin D deficiency?
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Vitamin D is different from other vitamins in that our body makes most of our vitamin D on its own and, in the process, transforms it into a hormone. This hormone, in turn, supports our skeletal muscle structure, blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain function, and ability to protect ourselves from cancer.
There are two types of supplemental Vitamin D: D2 and D3. Out of the two, D3 is believed to be the most beneficial, since this is the type of vitamin D that our bodies naturally produce. Vitamin D3 is called cholecalciferol. Unfortunately, the majority of vitamin D-fortified foods and supplements contain vitamin D2, which is called ergocalciferol. This type of vitamin D2 is difficult for the body to use efficiently and, as most people try to get their vitamin D in this manner, is probably why we see such a large deficiency nationwide.
Why Care about Vitamin D?
Vitamin D plays a vital and multisystemic role in the body. It is necessary for calcium absorption into the bones, and it helps protect against cancer and heart disease as well. Maintaining the correct levels within your blood can also help prevent diabetes, as vitamin D supplementation can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease inflammation. Vitamin D is commonly low in people who suffer from anxiety and depression and appropriate levels are needed to achieve optimal cognitive function.
The Sun & Vitamin D
When UVB rays touch your skin, a chemical reaction takes place: your body initiates the process of converting a prohormone in the skin into vitamin D. Once formed, the vitamin heads towards your liver, where the body begins to metabolize it. From the liver it travels to the kidney and there it converts to a hormone the body can use.
Experts recommend that those with darker skin tones receive up to 40 minutes of rich exposure each day. If your skin is much fairer, about 10 minutes is recommended. In the winter it is suggested that you double your exposure. Not only is the amount of time important, however, but the time of day you go out is key as well. The time when the rays will be most effective is between 10am-3pm, when the sun is highest in the sky and your shadow is shorter than you.
If you are worried about over-exposure, wear sunscreen in delicate areas: your face and hands. Your limbs, if exposed, should be left vulnerable to the sun’s UVB rays in order to create the proper amount of vitamin D. Astonishingly, recent research shows that wearing sunblock of SPF 8 or higher actually reduces your body’s ability to make vitamin D3 by 90%.
A blood test is the only way to find out if you have a deficiency. The Next|Health Baseline test can give you a 10,000 foot view of what is going on in your body right now, including your Vitamin D levels.
Supplement Your Vitamin D
As much as we recommend you embrace the natural and best way to absorb vitamin D by spending time outdoors, we sometimes lead busy lives that rob us of those opportunities. At Next|Health, we can help through our robust new VIT D intramuscular injection. IM’s are a quick and effective method to boost your levels, depending on your specific needs and deficiencies. We also recommend our Next|Health Vitamin D Supplement to help maintain your Vitamin D level.
Dr. Darshan Shah is a physician, surgeon, entrepreneur, and is considered by many to be the "Doctor of the Future." His passion is educating the public on the newest technologies in health & wellness and how to look and feel your best!