Last November I went for a regular well check with my doctor and my blood work came back showing that everything looked great, except for that I was seriously lacking Vitamin D!
I had no idea why this was the case and what effect it was having on me. Honestly, I wasn’t really concerned but I did buy some Vitamin D3 vitamins at the store and tried to take them at night before bed.
Vitamin D supports: healthy bones and teeth, immune and nervous systems support, regulating insulin, and other health benefits like boosting mood and energy levels.
Despite its name, Vitamin D is actually a hormone that the body can produce on its own. (Vitamins cannot be produced by the body… Read more about why our skin needs Vitamin C here.) There are two types D2 (found in food) and D3 (created from sunlight).
In the spring I struggled with severe exhaustion. I thought: thyroid problem! I went to the doctor and she thought maybe that was the case too and did some blood work.
But it turned out to be a side-effect of a medication and lack of Vitamin D, again! This was despite the fact that I was already taking a Vitamin D supplement.
When you’re deficient of Vitamin D you may be tired more often, get sick more often, have painful joints, suffer from depressed mood, wounds might not heal as quickly, lose hair, or have sore muscles. YIKES!
I was reminded that it’s very difficult for your body to absorb straight Vitamin D through a supplemental Vitamin D pill and it’s easier to absorb with other vitamins. I started taking these, but kind of just because I liked the packaging. What can I say…?
Now that I’ve switched jobs and work in downtown Columbia, SC I try to get outside during my lunch break and walk around. Your body produces Vitamin D as a result of sun exposure. After living in northern cities like Glasgow, Scotland and Fairbanks, Alaska, I don’t think I was getting enough sunlight. And the summers in Columbia, SC are very harsh, where many people spend most of their day hiding in the air conditioning.
HOW TO GET MORE VITAMIN D:
Take a supplement with other vitamins: this might seem like the easy way out but when it comes to health, be proactive!
Take a walk outside during your lunch break: this is so good for my mood and something I look forward to all morning, since I mostly sit at my desk all day (ugh). I try to eat outside too and find something beautiful to photograph each day.
Do something you would normally do inside, outside (call a friend, read a book, eat a snack): Sunlight is the most efficient way for your body to create Vitamin D. You only need 5-10 minutes a day of direct sunlight on your skin, 2-3 times a week for sufficient sunlight absorption for your body to create enough Vitamin D. It breaks down quickly though, which is why it’s tough to get enough if you wear SPF (a double edge sword…), are elderly, have dark skin, or live in a northern climate or climate which makes it difficult to get outside in the sun (harsh winters or summers, lots of cloudy days).
Increase your intake of foods that are good sources of Vitamin D: foods that are most rich in Vitamin D are gross to me, so this is a tough one! But you may consider increasing your fish oil and fatty fish intake: cod liver oil, herring, swordfish, sardines, canned tuna, beef liver, and raw maitake mushrooms. But salmon and other wild-caught fish, eggs, and fortified orange juice doesn’t sound too bad!
Too much Vitamin D?
Ultraviolet lamps for Vitamin D absorption are marketed for those with malabsorption or those living in climates that make it so they cannot get enough Vitamin D. I discovered these lamps to be popular while living in Alaska. These lamps are similar to tanning beds though and carry the same risks. They should only be used with a doctor’s recommendation.
If you’re taking too much Vitamin D, this can negatively affect your blood. But this cannot happen if you’re just relying on the sun for Vitamin D; your body simply stops making it. The daily recommendation is 600 IU for healthy adults.
To read more about Vitamin D from an official source, click here.
Curious about your levels of Vitamin D? Next time you get a blood workup at the doctor’s office, pay close attention to your Vitamin D levels. What are your thoughts about getting a little extra sunlight during the day?