At least when thinking about it in relation to when we were in school. Or showing up on our kids' report cards. Even a high D was frowned upon. But when it comes to health, a high D is something you really do want to have. Vitamin D that is.
Lately I've started to hear from a few new clients that they have been, or have recently started taking Vitamin D. And that's fantastic. The fact is, we all should be supplementing with it on a daily basis and the fact that we haven't heard more about this from our health officials, prompted me to share.
Our best source of vitamin D comes from the sun. We absorb it through exposed skin when we are out in the sun. But not in the winter months. And not through sunscreen. So for those of us here in North American above the 37th parallel, it's not possible to get enough unless we supplement. And here are some great reasons why we should.
Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium for bone growth, health and strength. It's also key for muscle strength and helps prevent cramping as well as lowers the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Vitamin D can help to normalize blood sugar and some studies suggest it may help with hypertension, a pre-cursor to heart disease. Those deficient in vitamin D, and also calcium, who have had a difficult time losing weight, often find improvements after supplementing with the two. Just as the sun brightens up your day and makes you smile, adequate levels of vitamin D works to help improve symptoms of depression and is being looked at by the National Cancer Institute as preventative for some cancers. Lastly, but most important in my opinion, is that keeping your D levels up to snuff improves immune system function and is highly effective at preventing viruses from taking hold.
An article published June 2020 in Health online, shared that Yale Medicine Hematologist, oncologist and nutritionist, Dr. Barry Boyd, MD, RDN, pointed to an analysis in the esteemed BMJ, British Medical Journal, which found that, “...vitamin D reduced the risk of acute respiratory infection with either daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation, particularly in individuals who were deficient in it. ....he says. “We now are seeing a similar pattern with higher mortality rates in COVID-19 infections," though more research still needs to be done to determine whether the link is causal or merely a correlation.”
Fast forward a few months and research was completed. In November of 2020, the highly respected and peer reviewed, Nature, published a paper on a study analyzing the effects of vitamin D on both asymptomatic and critically ill COVID-19 patients. Here is what they concluded. “Vitamin D deficiency markedly increases the chance of having severe disease after infection with SARS Cov-2. The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D deficient COVID-19 patients. This all translates to increased morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D. Keeping the current COVID-19 pandemic in view authors recommend administration of vitamin D supplements to population at risk to COVID-19.”
The number used to determine deficiency in this study was a blood level of vitamin D measuring less than 30ng/ml. As with all things health, teetering on the edge isn't really where we should aim to be. Let's face it, none of us ever saw that A on a report card without putting in some extra effort. And why would we do it? To not just pass the course, but have that buffer there should something go sideways in an exam. Or another course didn't go so well and bring down the average. Hovering in the lower grades all year was a precarious place to be if you wanted to move forward. Same principle applies to health. According to osteopathic physicians, Dr. Sherry Tenpenny and Dr. Mercola, in order to optimize your immune system, D levels should ideally read between 60ng/ml and 80ng/ml.
And as always, quality of your supplements count. A few tips. Know your source, avoid brands that have a lots of extraneous ingredients in them that you cannot pronounce. Make sure what you are buying is bio-available (that means your body can use it right away and without wasting it). If you don't know something, ask at the store where you're purchasing. If they can't tell you, push to find out. If they won't find out, go elsewhere. It's your health, you have a right to know. And lastly, more often than not, you will get what you pay for. Some of the more popular brands are not necessarily as popular for their efficacy as they are for the price.
For more practical tips and information on how to thrive through life, join Tania's 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.