The “sunshine vitamin” has been getting some pretty stormy press recently. Some organizations call vitamin D deficiency a global pandemic that affects more than 40 percent of the population, while other researchers claim true D deficiency is far less than previously suspected.
One thing everyone can agree on is that the necessary fat-soluble vitamin regulates more than 200 genes in the body, affecting everything from bone density to liver function, your autoimmune system, heart health and more. There is also no argument that in today’s society, folks get much less of the essential vitamin than previous generations, making its benefits and effects closely watched.
The body naturally produces vitamin D when ultraviolet B rays hit the skin. A fair-skinned person can produce enough vitamin D by being exposed to the summer sun for just a few minutes a day. Those with darker complexions may require 15–20 minutes of full sun exposure a day, while African-Americans’ darker pigmentation could require up to six times more sun, although exactly how much is widely debated. However, an increase in the use of sunscreen and a decrease in time spent outside (more people working more hours indoors and leading more sedentary lifestyle than the farmers of yore) have been indisputable factors in a decrease in natural D production. While D is available naturally in some foods — fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks, cod liver oil, anyone? — and commonly fortified in foods like milk and cereal, most people rely on supplements to boost their D’s.
A lack of vitamin D has long been known as a leading cause of rickets in children and osteomalacia (softening of the bones) in adults, due to its critical function in developing strong, healthy bones. However, additional research has linked a D deficiency to everything from an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer’s, depression, the flu and even certain cancers, although more conclusive studies are still needed.
How Much D Do You Need Daily?
- 400 IU’s for 0–12 months
- 600 IU’s for 1–70 years
- 800 IU’s for over 70 years
*Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) according to the National Institutes of Health.
- Builds strong bones and teeth
- Regulates insulin levels
- Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes
- Helps regulate immune system and nervous system
- Supports cardiovascular health
- Supports proper lung function
Are You D-Deficient?
In many cases, it can be tough to tell if you are getting enough of the essential vitamin. Some possible symptoms include:
- Bone or back pain
- Feeling Depressed
- Slow wound healing
- Excessive sweating
Get Checked Out!
Patients who are battling chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure certainly want to closely monitor their D levels, but even otherwise healthy folks can make sure all systems are operating at full capacity by ensuring healthy D levels. At Any Lab Test Now, you can walk in to any office and order a simple Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy Test without a doctor’s order and get results back in just one to three days. Armed with that critical information, you can make sure your body is getting all the D it needs.