A few years, ago I noticed I was constantly tired. As you know, each day I am either in the operating room or my practice at a very early hour. But I noticed that no matter what I did, eating right or exercising often, nothing improved the tired feeling I had. Finally I checked my Vitamin D level and it turned out it was low. It was about 25; the normal value should be over 30. Ideal levels for men and women should be in the 40-50 range.
I began taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day - which is the most active form. D3 is the best form of Vitamin D to take in terms of supplements. Obviously, we'd all love to get our Vitamin D through sun exposure but as winter approached, we know that's not always possible.
Vitamin D is arguably the most important vitamin you could take. Vitamin D is actually a hormone; it's not even a vitamin and it affects our entire body. Whenever, you feel fatigued or have low energy - it's quite possible your Vitamin D levels are low. A vitamin D deficiency occurs when the level of vitamin D in your body is too low. Vitamin D helps the body use calcium from our diet which is essential for us as humans to maintain bone strength. If you feel you might be experiencing symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency, it is important to get tested and treated because it can eventually cause your bones to become thin, brittle or mis-shapen.
Over the years many studies have shown low Vitamin D may lead to heart disease, diabetes, dementia, aggressive prostate cancer and Alzheimers. A new study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism explored the importance of vitamin D related to heart health. A connection was made between children having low vitamin D levels and experiencing heart disease later in life. Learn more on this connection between heart disease and low vitamin D.
- Vitamin D helps build up calcium in your body which strengthens bone and teeth health
- Decreased risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, dementia and some cancers including breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, esophageal and lymphatic
- Helps lower blood pressure levels and hypertension
- Regulates your immune system for optimal efficiency and fighting disease
- Studies have shown that it can decrease multiple sclerosis in women
Do you have a vitamin D deficiency?
The only way to confirm that you are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency is to get a blood test to test your vitamin D levels. In the meantime, if you are experiencing any of the following signs or symptoms, you should get tested sooner rather than later.
- You are aged 50 or older. As we age, our skin does not make as much vitamin D as a result of sun exposure. The kidneys are also less capable of converting vitamin D into the form that is used by our bodies. When we get older, we tend to spend more time inside due to certain health conditions or the inability to be as physically active and therefore, we get even less sun exposure and less vitamin D.
- You have dark skin. African Americans are at higher risk of being vitamin D deficient because they have more melanin in their skin. Having more melanin decreases the skin's ability to make vitamin D from sun exposure. If you have dark skin, you may need as much as ten times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D, compared to a person with light or fare skin.
- You have gastrointestinal issues. As mentioned before, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means if you have a gastrointestinal condition that affects your ability to absorb fat, you may have lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D as well. Having gastrointestinal conditions that occur in the gut like Crohn's disease, celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and inflammatory bowel disease may be sign you are not getting enough vitamin D.
- You have bone pain. Many people who see a doctor complaining of aches and pains in their bones are often misdiagnosed as having chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia. This is especially true if the person is also complaining of fatigue. However, these are also signs of vitamin D deficiency osteomalacia. This is different than the type of vitamin D deficiency that causes osteoporosis in adults in that the vitamin D deficiency is limiting the ability to put calcium into the collagen matrix in the bones, which can result in aches and pain in the bones.
- Your mood is down. The amount of serotonin your body produces is linked to the amount of sun exposure you get. Serotonin is the brain's natural feel good hormone which makes us feel happy and in a good mood. Our body produces more serotonin when we are more sun exposure, and produces less serotonin when we get less sun exposure.
- You are overweight or obese, or have more muscle mass. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning the amount of body fat we have is related to the amount of vitamin D our bodies need and can absorb. So if you are overweight or obese, your body requires more vitamin D compared to a thin person with less body fat. This is also true for people who weigh more as a result of having a higher amount of muscle mass.
Head perspiration. One of the initial signs of vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head.
Foods with A lot of Vitamin D
1. Salmon: Fatty fish like salmon, herring and sardines is the best place to get vitamin D and the omega-3 fatty acids won't hurt you either.
2. Choose fortified breakfast cereals: Many products are now fortified with vitamin D.
3. More mushrooms: Whether you love Chanterelle, morel, shiitake, or portobello, mushrooms are a low-cal way to increase your vitamin D.
4. Make an omelet: Two large eggs provide about 1/10 of your daily need of vitamin D. Eat the whole egg!
5. Embrace canned tuna: It's inexpensive, versatile and easy for on-the-go eating.