In a world that often feels like it’s spinning a little too fast, where the pressures and challenges of daily life can sometimes become overwhelming, it’s important to find those glimmers of hope and healing. One overlooked and unexpected source of support might just be something as simple as Vitamin D. From the historical ties between sunlight and human health to the latest scientific revelations.
Where Does Vitamin D Come Into Play?
Most people who are vitamin D deficient don’t know it, and for years, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to heightened levels of depression and anxiety, a connection well-documented by Healthline.
However, recent findings shows that the benefits of vitamin D supplementation extend beyond emotional well-being, with potential implications such as suicide and self-harm prevention. The horizon of healing expands with a noteworthy 2023 study from PLOS ONE, shed light on the role of vitamin D by potentially reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm.
Why You May Have Low Vitamin D Deficiency
It’s is quite common worldwide. And it depends on factors such as geographical location, age, skin tone, and lifestyle. Some studies suggest that over a billion people globally may have insufficient levels of vitamin D. In the United States, around 35% of people have vitamin D deficiency.
- In regions with limited sunlight, especially during the winter months, deficiency rates tend to be higher.
- People who live in northern latitudes or spend most of their time indoors are at an increased risk of deficiency.
- People with darker skin tones have a higher natural protection against harmful UVB rays, which also reduces their ability to accumulate vitamin D production by 90%.
As it stands, certain populations are more vulnerable to vitamin D deficiency, including the elderly, infants who are exclusively breastfed ( 50-60% nursing homes have low vitamin D levels in the US), people with limited sun exposure due to cultural practices or clothing choices, and those with certain medical conditions that affect vitamin D absorption.
To determine your vitamin D status accurately, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional and consider getting a blood test.
This can help determine whether you have adequate levels of vitamin D or if supplementation is necessary to address any deficiency.
General Signs of Low Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency have far-reaching effects on our body. Its role in immune support, energy metabolism, bone health, mood regulation, and tissue repair are essential for overall well-being. Many of the general signs of low Vitamin D, such as;
Immune System (Frequent illnesses):
Vitamin D plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Deficiency in Vitamin D could weaken immune responses, making individuals more susceptible to frequent illnesses like colds and flu.
Energy Levels (Fatigue):
Adequate Vitamin D levels are known to contribute to healthy energy metabolism. A deficiency might lead to feelings of fatigue and lack of energy.
Musculoskeletal System (Lower back pain, Bone loss, Muscle pain):
Vitamin D is vital for maintaining bone health and strength. Insufficient Vitamin D can result in bone loss, contributing to conditions like lower back pain, weak bones (osteoporosis), and muscle pain.
Mood and Mental Health (General sadness or low mood):
Vitamin D is believed to influence brain health and the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters. A deficiency could potentially contribute to feelings of general sadness or low mood.
Hair and Skin Health (Hair loss, Skin issues):
While the link is less direct, Vitamin D does play a role in promoting healthy skin and hair. A deficiency might not directly cause hair loss, but it could contribute to poor hair health. Similarly, Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties might contribute to improved skin health.
Healing Process (Impaired healing):
Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of inflammation and tissue repair. Insufficient levels could potentially impair the body’s ability to heal efficiently.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional to assess your Vitamin D levels and determine if supplementation or lifestyle adjustments are necessary.
How Our Body Absorb Vitamin D and Daily Dose
The majority of your body’s vitamin D is accumulated in your skin through sun exposure, although dietary and supplements intake contributes to a smaller extent. The exact amount for your daily needs from diets and supplements depends on a number of factors such as your clothing, possible link to obesity, where you live, the amount of melanin in your skin tones, how much time you spend outdoors, etc.
The suggested dosage typically ranges between 1,000–4,000 IU (25–100 mcg), depending on factors like age and sex.
For example, the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends the daily amount of vitamin D according to age.
- 0–12 months
Dosage: 10 micrograms (mcg) (400 IU)
- 1–70 years
Dosage: 15 mcg (600 IU)
- 71 years
Dosage: 20 mcg (800 IU)
Helpful hint: Vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means excess amounts can accumulate in your system. Avoid exceeding the recommended doses under the assumption that if 1000 or 4000 IU helps, then more would be even better. This isn’t the case. Unless a deficiency is confirmed through testing, increasing the dosage further isn’t advisable. When it comes to vitamin D supplementation, moderation and awareness are key.
What’s The Best Type of Vitamin D?
There are two main types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Of these, vitamin D3 is generally considered to be the more effective and preferred form for raising and maintaining vitamin D levels in the body.
Vitamin D3 is primarily obtained through sun exposure and is also found in some animal-based food sources. Here are some foods that are good sources of vitamin D3:
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines are excellent sources of vitamin D3. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked salmon can provide around 570 IU (14 mcg) of vitamin D3.
Cod Liver Oil
A tablespoon of cod liver oil can provide a substantial amount of vitamin D3, typically around 1300 IU (32.5 mcg).
Egg Yolks: Egg yolks contain small amounts of vitamin D3. The exact content can vary, but on average, one large egg yolk provides about 41 IU (1 mcg) of vitamin D3.
Beef liver is another source of vitamin D3, providing approximately 42 IU (1 mcg) of vitamin D3 per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
Some foods, like certain dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese) and plant-based milk alternatives, are fortified with vitamin D3. Check the labels to see the exact amount of added vitamin D.
Note, vitamin D3 is also available in supplement form, which can be particularly useful for people with limited sun exposure or those who have difficulty obtaining enough vitamin D through their diet. However, before taking any supplements, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate dosage for your specific needs.
Additionally, when taking supplements, it’s advised not to exceed a daily intake of 100 mcg (which is equivalent to 4000 IU per day). Vitamin D levels are considered excessively high when they surpass 125 nmol/L.