Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, naturally present in very few foods, which makes deficiency common and supplementation necessary. Did you know that in order to get adequate Vitamin D intake you need to get regular sun exposure? This can be an issue for anyone who lives where there is a lot of cloud cover or smog, or if you use regular sunscreen, have darker pigmented skin, or if you live far from the equator. Look at his nifty calculator to find out if you are getting proper exposure.
In my practice I have started to regularly check Vitamin D serum levels in my patients, much of this came after the 2009 H1N1 scare and the research done by John Cannell, MD. I also wrote about this on my website blog, “The Influenza virus – A Greater Understanding”. A colleague of mine who works with a lot of osteoporotic patients in Arizona tests all of her patients’ Vitamin D and Vitamin K levels. Close to 100% of her patients are deficient in both. A lot of this has to do with high use of sunscreen and simply avoiding the sun.
After attending a cardiac medical conference, I learned many of the cardiac specialists kept finding a correlation between low levels of Vitamin D and hypertension. Prior to attending the conference, I already had started to see higher incidences of hypertensive patients as young as 26 through 40 years of age. This was alarming as they had no other health issues, aside from high blood pressure. Through dietary changes and a spectrum of supplement support, I have seen those numbers come down, but I am becoming more and more convinced that low Vitamin D can put an individual at risk for heart disease.
Since I had done a lot of research for the use of Vitamin D and immunity, specifically the H1N1 virus, it got me more and more interested in Vitamin D in general. It wasn’t too difficult to find that low Vitamin D can be associated with mood or depressive disorders. This would account for a lot of the Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD) and/or higher incidences of depression in states further from the equator. Additionally, babies born in the months between December and March are at higher risk for Vitamin D deficiencies, especially if the mother breastfed.
However, don’t let this make you go out and buy some vitamin D and start taking it. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and taking it without knowing if you need to can put you at risk for an overload and toxicity. First, you should get your levels tested by a well-trained practitioner. Once getting your results the doctor will know exactly what dose to give you (current RDA is 400 IU) and the proper form. However, after dosing an individual could use as much a 10,000 IU/day, but again this would be carefully planned out and the doctor would be sure to re-test you within a few months.
Summing up, I find that after testing for adequate Vitamin D levels, I use it for prevention or therapy in:
- Bone Health – Necessary for absorption of calcium and magnesium to build bones and prevent softening of bones. This is especially necessary for breastfeeding women and the elderly, but really everyone can benefit.
- Mood – Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and depression.
- Immunity – Affinity to the upper respiratory tract, like asthma and the common cold, flu virus, and immunocompromised.
- Heart Health – Reducing incidences of hypertension and heart disease.
Dr. Christina Youngren is a graduate of Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. She completed a two-year clinical internship that included all naturopathic modalities and a one-year residency in Environmental Medicine. Her focus is functional endocrinology, including hormone imbalances, infertility, preconception care, digestive issues, thyroid and adrenal disorders.