The things that you DO know about Vitamin D, is that it is a continuous battle to ensure your Vitamin D levels are sufficient during the winter time. It has been repeated that Vitamin D is important for our bone health, cardiovascular health, and our mood.
So, what are the things that you don’t know about Vitamin D?
1. According to BestPlaces, Seattle on average has 152 sunny days per year, this is approximately 42% of the calendar year. We all love living in Seattle – being super close to the mountains, hiking trails, nearby water activities and to wildlife and nature, not to mention the diverse neighborhoods. But, we were not aware of the grey winters until we actually experienced them for the first time. With this lack of sunshine year-round, local Seattle residents should be supplementing daily, if not being very aware of their daily sunshine consumption. Being outdoors for approximately 15-20 minutes with arms and legs exposed to the sunshine could be enough for your daily intake. Due to the winters having less sunshine, you should consult with your healthcare provider about a winter maintenance dose and if your supplement is the correct one for you.
2. Vitamin D is considered as a pro-hormone as well as a vitamin. What are the differences? A vitamin is a substance that is essential for growth and development, whereas a hormone is necessary for regulatory functions to activate processes and pathways within the body. As a pro-hormone it promotes calcium absorption in the gut which is used to help build bone.
3. Other causes of Vitamin D deficiency aside from winter include medications and supplements such as: anti-seizure medications, glucocorticoids, HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy), and St. John’s Wort; and malabsorption conditions such as: Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and liver disease.
4. Some signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, illness, depressed moods, poor wound healing, hair loss, and muscle pain. If untreated for extended time, this can lead to conditions such as chronic infections (influenza, upper respiratory infection), asthma, diabetes, hypertension, depression, muscle and pain disorders, neurodegenerative disorders (ie. Alzheimer’s), or cancer. Vitamin D plays a role in the above conditions due to its important role in regulating multiple genes (up to 200), which assist in cell growth and cell differentiation.
5. Can over-supplementation do harm? Yes. Please, please, please ask your doctor for support in finding the best supplement and dose for you. Children and infants require a lower dose (RDA* 400 IU). Pregnant and lactating women are recommended to take the same dose as adults (RDA* 600 IU).
Signs and symptoms that could indicate Vitamin D toxicity include nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, weakness, increased thirst and urination, constipation, weight loss, confusion, kidney and/or heart dysfunction.
6. What is the best way to test your Vitamin D levels? Checking your blood status is the most accurate test. Your doctor can order a test called 25-hydroxy Vitamin D. Most healthcare insurance companies will cover this test annually, which can be included in your general annual wellness exam.