What’s D Got to Do With It?

When sick people walk into our clinics across the US they often have one thing in common. They are Vitamin D deficient. Whether they are walking into a clinic in Texas, or Montana, their labs show they are extremely deficient. You don’t want to be deficient. You want to have optimal levels to get all the health benefits of Vitamin D. You’re still stuck on how it happens all over the country aren’t you?

It’s true- everywhere, not just in our colder climates, people are missing out on Vitamin D. Why? Because they are busy. People in Texas can walk out to sun anytime, but they are busy. We are spending more time inside no matter where we live. One congruency across all demographics is people don’t get out as much. You can be living in Texas year-round and show labs with a low Vitamin D level and Massachusetts will get similar lab results.

Reasons for Vitamin D deficiency

  • Less time outside. Kids are playing video games and not out playing in parks. Adults are busy.
  • Winter means less sun especially in the northern regions
  • Hard to get enough in food because amounts are low even in Vitamin D rich foods
  • People wear more sunscreen, and are covering skin which blocks out the UVB rays which make Vitamin D

Vitamin D is pretty great. It is the only vitamin that our body can make on its own, so your body doesn’t need it from food.  Your body turns Vitamin D into a hormone to keep us happy and healthy while it regulates 1,000 genes in our body (1). It destroys cancer cells. Studies show just taking a supplement, reduces your risk for cancer and death from cancer. (2) It is needed for stronger bones. It is better than a flu shot for protecting you from getting sick. Flu season hits when we are getting less Vitamin D from the sun and eating more sugar. It’s really less Vitamin D season.

Studies have shown a link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression. They have also shown that taking a supplement can prevent depression. (3) Vitamin D makes you happy. That’s why you get the mood boost after a day of being outside.

With all that Vitamin D regulates, why aren’t more people making sure they have it? It seems silly when we look at how a deficiency manifests in so many sick people.

Illness and Vitamin D Deficiencies:

  • Low Vitamin D levels mean more upper respiratory tract infections (or colds) With how frequent colds are a little Vitamin D could go a long way to making us healthier. (4)
  • One study looking at elderly found those with low Vitamin D were 2-3 more times likely to have cognitive decline (5)
  • Women who have low Vitamin D levels have a significantly higher risk for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) (6)
  • Vitamin D deficiency leads to poorer outcomes for critically ill children who are commonly reported to have lower levels. (7)
  • Low Vitamin D levels are associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease and death (8)
  • Women with breast cancer are more likely to have lower levels of Vitamin D. Those with low levels are more likely to die from breast cancer. (9)
  • Prostate cancer tumors are more aggressive in men with low Vitamin D (10)
  • Girls with vitamin deficiency get their period at an earlier age (11)

This is just a sampling of what studies have found regarding the connection of Vitamin D and illness. Do we really need to keep looking to know that making sure we have Vitamin D to let our bodies do their job? This means taking more than the recommended daily Vitamin D and making sure your body is either making or getting enough. Get tested and take steps to be sure you are reaching optimal levels.

Take Care of Your Skin

The skin is the largest organ on your body and has this unique ability to produce Vitamin D. Take care of it! Protect it from burning but make sure you are getting it exposed to those sweet sun rays. Make sure it stays healthy by moisturizing it.

I’m a big fan of coconut oil for building skins elasticity, moisturizing, and keeping it healthy. Buy it at the grocery store or warehouse club and make sure you are getting organic. Here’s a great recipe for a Coconut Oil Body Butter you can make yourself.

Coconut oil is my favorite and it even has a small SPF of 4. Find something that works for you and use it daily!

Make Sure You Are Getting Optimal Levels

There are foods that are higher than Vitamin D. Foods like tuna, salmon, eggs, mackerel, shrimp mushrooms, cod liver oil and fortified foods have Vitamin D. It is difficult to reach daily recommendations let alone optimal levels by just eating it though. How much do you like cod liver oil?

Getting outside is still the best way to get Vitamin D. The reality is we aren’t getting outside as much as we should and when we do we are covering up our skin. Foods don’t have enough Vitamin D to make up for the deficit, so we need to take a supplement. Its very inexpensive for a supplement that does so much.

You need to take Vitamin D for the rest of your life if you live in a northern climate and/or you’re not getting enough sun. You, your daughter, your son, your husband, your mom, your family have to take a supplement or you’re going to get sick. Vitamin D is a vital part of health.

Whether you live in Texas or Montana you should find out if you are deficient. You need to get tested and then you need to make sure you are getting optimal levels. We would rather we didn’t see you at one of our clinics because you are sick.

By Dr. Patrick Flynn