Vitamin D3 is a vital nutrient that is essential for bone growth, bone health, calcium absorption, & the health of our immune system. It positively impacts many of our organs, including the blood, heart, lungs, kidneys, small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, brain, skin, eyes, stomach, & even lean muscle tissue. It is necessary for the proper function of every cell in our bodies and much of our gene structure.
So many of us, especially this time of year, have deficient Vitamin D levels. The reasons for deficiencies in Vitamin D3 may vary from low fat diets, to digestive disorders that affect absorption, to procedures such as gastric bypass surgery. (Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which requires adequate dietary fats for proper absorption. All of the previously mentioned restrict proper Vitamin D absorption, in addition to other vitamins & minerals.) For most, the reason is primarily due to lack of sun exposure & important ultraviolet light that is necessary for proper Vitamin D synthesis & absorption. During the Winter months, if you live in the Northeast as I do, we are not exposed to as much sunlight as in the other seasons. Our bodies are covered with more clothing, and we are typically indoors for longer portions of the day. I will often stand outside or walk for 20-30 minutes just for the sunlight exposure. One of the most available mechanisms available to us to take in the necessary type of light, are our eyes. The retina, in particular allows more ultraviolet light to be absorbed, which is necessary for the synthesis of Vitamin D to take place. When sunlight is taken in through the eyes & the skin, cholesterol within our cells reacts with the sunlight to create Vitamin D3. In order for the inactive Vitamin D3 to activate, it must first undergo an activation phase in the liver, followed by an activation phase in the kidneys. It is then considered biologically activated, and affects nearly every system in our bodies at some level.
Because Vitamin D3 is not present in most foods, I believe in additional supplementation of this vital nutrient. Some foods that are relatively good sources of Vitamin D are salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, eggs, & mushrooms. Keeping these foods in your diet regularly will benefit your D levels, but additional supplementation & sunlight will be necessary for proper absorption & healthy Vitamin D levels. I regularly take an additional 2200 IU per day, (100 IU at Meal 1, 1000 IU at Meal 2, & 1100 IU at Meal 3.) This still may not be adequate according to some studies, but I definitely exceed the Recommended Daily Allowance which is 600 IU. Combined with my food intake, which is made up of some of the foods that I listed as good sources of Vitamin D, I feel that I am maintaining healthy serum levels of Vitamin D in my blood. But keep in mind, healthy fats in your diet such as fish oils, olive oil, canola oil, avocado, nuts, & nut butters & the exposure to enough daily sunlight, (minimum of 20 minutes,) are necessary for proper absorption of this vital vitamin!
Note: Always seek your physician’s recommendation when adjusting vitamin or mineral levels. It is important to have the blood levels checked before making such adjustments, especially if you take medications.
Until next month,