We just returned from a lovely trip to Hawaii and between the jetlag and the dreary weather in Michigan, our home has been very slow to wake up. In fact, as I write this I am sitting alone in my kitchen with one at school and the other two still asleep. To help shake off the sluggish feeling of glooming overcast skies, I always turn to my favorite energy boost from the refrigerator and add another drop of D to my morning regiment. Because when the dark winter months hit, my vitamin D plummets and yours might be doing the same thing.
I am a born and raised Midwesterner. I’ve lived on every boarder of Lake Michigan within the US. My body has never had the privilege of a 365-day sunny life, but after moving to West Michigan a few years ago, I hit rock bottom.
We moved to Michigan in late September and by October I was back in Wisconsin swearing to my Oncologist that the cancer was back. Of course I couldn’t blame the exhaustion and depressed feelings on the recent move, the lifestyle of three different homes over six weeks or the 4-month old infant sucking the life out of me. NO! It was cancer.
After a full blood chemistry work-up, it turned out it wasn’t any of the above, but a massive plummet in my vitamin D levels. I was immediately prescribed a daily regiment of 2,000 IUDs of vitamin D with a follow up blood draw to make sure my levels had stabilized.
Immediately I felt better. It made me wonder if an undiagnosed seasonal plummet of vitamin D had caused my life long emotional ups and downs. So, now I am a major proponent of vitamin D supplements for everyone! It is estimated that more than 1 billion people worldwide are deficient or insufficient in vitamin D. My entire family takes them and I highly encourage every reader to explore what vitamin D supplement might be right for you.
There are two forms of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 comes from fortified foods, plant foods, and supplements. Vitamin D3 comes from fortified foods, animal foods (fish, eggs, and liver), and can be made internally when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is stored in your fat cells and used as needed. Of course this also means you can overdose but many say that you have to be near 40,000IU in one day to broach an overdose (but remember, I’m not a doctor so make sure you run numbers with your doc before making changes to your diet).
The most natural source of vitamin D is exposure to natural sunlight but with an increased awareness of the negative side effects of sun exposure, we know it is important to balance your need for vitamin D with your skin safety. Using a sunscreen with SPF 30 decreases your vitamin D synthesis by more than 95%. And the darker your natural skin tone is, the harder you have to work to meet your needed vitamin D levels through sun exposure. Similarly, the higher your BMI, the more vitamin D gets diluted in your system, both increasing the chance you are deficient and increasing the amount of vitamin D you need as a supplement.
So why do you even need appropriate levels of vitamin D in your blood? Here is a list of the benefits of vitamin D:
- Decreased inflammation
- Reduced risk of allergies in children and adolescents
- Decreased risk of dental cavities by 47%
- Decreased levels of depression
- Reduced erectile dysfunction
- Regulated levels of cholesterol
- Decreased mortality rate from certain cancers
- Decreased risk of osteoarthritis
- Increased bone strength, improved balance and reduced risk of falls in elderly
If you have decided you want to explore a supplement, then keep reading for choices and guidelines. And since I am NOT a health professional, I would recommend you seek the advice of your doctor or pediatrician before starting a new health supplement.
When you take your vitamin D, make sure you take it with your largest meal because that meal typically has the most fat. Since the vitamin is fat soluble, your body will absorb more of the vitamin with a higher fat meal.
You can get vitamin D as a pill, liquid capsule or a liquid drop. Based on my reading, if you are going to pick a supplement the general consensus is to avoid the pill and pick either the capsule or liquid drop. I was taking the vitamin in pill form until my chiropractor introduced the liquid drop. While it might seem gross at first to drop oil on your tongue every day, I highly recommend this form of supplement. One bottle should provide a 1-year supply of the vitamin for an average adult, so already more affordable. Also, the liquid drop makes it very easy to provide the supplement to your children. My boys just stick out their tongues and down it goes. There isn’t a taste, so it is quite easy. Additionally, pill and chewable vitamins typically come along with a whole list of additives that you really shouldn’t be putting in your body anyway.
At your next annual physical or doctor’s appointment, consider discussing a Vitamin D supplement. However, make sure you have your levels tested in the winter and not right after a lovely vacation or in the midst of summer. You want a true reading of where your levels sit during a typical winter month.
And don’t forget that your healthy diet is just as important, if not more important, than what supplements you take. Eat clean and get your fruits and veggies!