Vitamin D also known as the “sunshine vitamin”, is produced in the skin from sunlight exposure. Even though it is known as a Vitamin, Vitamin D is actually a hormone and plays a major role in achieving and maintaining optimal health. Along with playing a key role in the function of our immune system (reducing prevalence of many common autoimmune conditions eg; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Celiac Disease etc) Vitamin D has anti-cancer properties, improves mood and performance, and is vital for strong and healthy bones, with new research showing its powerful flu fighting capabilities.
Plain and simply, if we didn’t have Vitamin D, we would die. (There is a good reason why every cell in our body (over 50 trillion) has a Vitamin D receptor) In fact premature death and aging can be correlated to a Vitamin D deficiency, and guess who scores number 1 in the world for Vitamin D deficiency? The UK! Interesting to note, this also correlates with the UK having the highest incidence of depression, anxiety, stress, alcoholism and suicide in the world, is there a link?
So why are most of us deficient?
It's almost impossible to talk about Vitamin D without talking about our widespread sun phobia. (Sun, after all, is the major source of most vitamin D.) While it's true that we probably shouldn't bake in the midday sun for hours without sunscreen, it's also true that we don't need to slather on SPF 45 every time we venture outdoors. (95% of sunscreens are highly toxic!)
Study after study has shown that we just don't get optimal levels of vitamin D. We've become a nation of sun phobic’s, slathering on 45 SPF every time we go outdoors thus significantly reducing our ability to make this important vitamin. (Wearing a SPF 8 reduces Vitamin D synthesis 95%) It's found in very few foods in any appreciable amount, except for Fermented Cod liver Oil (link to our supplement?) a supplement most of us aren't exactly consuming by the gallon.
The major biologic function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones. Recently, research also suggests vitamin D may provide protection from hypertension (high blood pressure) and Heart Disease.
In the largest study to date, which looks at the association between vitamin D and respiratory infections, people with the lowest blood vitamin D levels reported having significantly more colds or cases of the flu. The risks were even higher for those with chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma. Vitamin C has been used for the prevention of colds for decades, but little scientific evidence supports its effectiveness (Vitamin C is much more the effective in reducing duration of a cold/flu rather then preventing).
In contrast, evidence has accumulated that vitamin D plays a key role in the immune system. The winter time deficiency of vitamin D, has been implicated in the seasonal increase in colds and flu, and previous small studies have also suggested an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of respiratory infections.
Signs and Symptoms
A Vitamin D deficiency can potentially be masked by the following:
Decreased muscle mass
Increased cancer cells,
Increased heart rate,
Inflammatory bowel disease
Weakened immune system
Mood swings/ depression
Frequent Cold’s/ Flu
Poor brain development of the baby in the mother’s womb
Sources of Vitamin D
The sun (10-20,000- IU per day)
Oily Fish (800 IU per fish)
Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Dietary Supplements (must be D3)
The Best Advice
Get your Vit D levels tested (simple noninvasive blood test) to see where your current levels are at, and if low look to build up to optimal ASAP. (I highly recommend consulting with a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner who will also look at other blood markers that are linked with Vitamin D metabolism/function to evaluate the optimal amount/time frame for the best plan of action)
Actively seek out ways to increase your levels (Smart sun exposure, supplementation links? Diet)
As I have seen in my practice, once you do this, you will generally notice a reduction in inflammation, reduced body fat, reduced fatigue, you’ll feel happier and more positive, feel stronger with more energy, have less sugar cravings, and will also help prevent not only colds and flu, but all manner of disease, providing a strong foundation for optimal health.
If you would like to know more please get in touch.
Happiness and Health