Vitamin D is a hot topic lately. This vitamin is important for many functions in our body. It is involved in our immune system’s ability to fight off infections, bone health, cell communication and much more. People low in vitamin D may experience low energy, bone pain, generalized weakness, mood changes and other symptoms.
Unlike other vitamins, we don’t get much vitamin D from the foods we eat. Instead our skin actually makes vitamin D from sunlight. For this reason and others, Vitamin D is thought to be more like a hormone than a vitamin. Taking supplemental Vitamin D is important especially in the winter months, in more northern latitudes and for persons with darker skin. During the winter season our vitamin D levels typically decrease because of decreased sun exposure.
Having your blood level of vitamin D tested before the winter is important to make sure your levels are in the target range and that the dose you are taking is appropriate. As a naturopathic doctor, I like to see vitamin D levels around 50-80 ng/mL for optimal health, though labs often make the cutoff for sufficient levels around 30 ng/mL. I find that many of my patients, even if they spend time outside in the sun, tend to have low levels of vitamin D. Most routine blood screenings include a test for vitamin D. It is best to have your doctor monitor your levels and make dose recommendations accordingly.
Check out this free booklet from the Vitamin D Council for a lot more information on vitamin D.
photo credit: Sun & Snow by Billtacular, Flickr