Why is Vitamin D Important?
Adequate vitamin D levels are vital for optimal functioning of almost every organ system! It is responsible for the proper control of calcium and phosphate regulation in the body which contributes to muscle and bone health, and prevents osteoporosis. It also plays an important role in the normal functioning of the immune system, insulin production, and heart health. Immune disorders such as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel syndrome and allergies have been linked to vitamin D deficiencies. Adequate levels of vitamin D are also needed for insulin production and deficiencies may affect insulin production in diabetics. Finally, recent research shows that adequate vitamin D levels prevent the uptake of LDL cholesterol by cells in arterial walls, and may assist in the prevention of coronary heart disease.
Why are So Many People Deficient in Vitamin D?
It is estimated that 75% of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D. Here are the reasons why:
. Lack of sunlight exposure or use of sunscreen. Vitamin D is made by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. If you are homebound, work indoors, or live in northern latitudes, it is possible that you are vitamin D deficient. Sunscreen also prevents the production of Vitamin D.
. Dark Skin. Melanin decreases the ability of the skin to make vitamin D in response to sunlight.
. Sub-adequate levels of Vitamin D consumption from fish, fish oils, egg yolks, cheese and beef liver.
. Your kidneys cannot convert Vitamin D to its active form due to decreased kidney function with aging.
. Your digestive tract may not adequately absorb Vitamin D, especially if you have medical conditions such as Crohn’s, cystic fibrosis, or celiac disease.
. You are obese. Vitamin D is stored in fat tissue and people with a body mass index of greater than 30 often have low vitamin D levels.
. Steroid use for chronic diseases lowers your vitamin D level.
How Do I Know if I am Deficient in Vitamin D?
. Chronic Muscle and Bone Pain. Muscle and bone pain may be initially mistaken for a chronic pain disorder, such as fibromyalgia. However, MayoClinic.com warns that severe deficits of vitamin D may lead to loss of bone and mineral content, leading to soft bones and osteoporosis.
. Emotional Changes. Dr. E. Sherwood Brown, MD, PhD a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas reports new findings that add depression to the spectrum of medical illnesses associated with low vitamin D. She even adds that people with a diagnosis of depression should consider a blood test to see if their vitamin D is low and consider supplements if needed.
. Immune Symptoms. A recent study at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine concluded that lower levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu. Other studies show correlations to vitamin D deficiency exhibited in inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel syndrome and certain allergic conditions.
. Metabolism and Weight Control. University of Minnesota researcher Shalamar Sibley found that higher levels of vitamin D in subjects predicted greater fat loss while dieting. Other studies have shown deficiencies in vitamin D to be correlated with insulin resistance, increased abdominal fat, and inability to lose weight even on a reduced-calorie diet.
How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?
. Current recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for patients age 1-70 is 600 international units (IU).
. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for patients age 70+ is 800 international units (IU).
. For patients who have a true vitamin D deficiency, doses as high as 5,000 – 50,000 IU may be recommended.
. Vitamin D supplements are usually sold over-the-counter as Vitamin D3. You may also see supplements formulated as D2, but most healthcare providers encourage D3, as it is the most natural form and has a more stable shelf life. Vitamin D3 is also more effective at raising and maintaining the vitamin D blood test and has been utilized in most clinical trials.
. Food sources that are high in vitamin D include: fatty fish such as cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, sardines, and tuna. Also beef liver, fortified orange juice and fortified milk and yogurt products.
The 25-hydroxy vitamin D test is the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body. The normal range is 30 – 80 ng/mL. A lower level indicates vitamin D deficiency, which should be discussed with your primary health care provider. Ideally, levels of >50-80 are adequate for bone and overall health of individuals.
Sub-Optimal Vitamin D Levels May Inhibit Weight Loss
Research shows that sub-optimal vitamin D levels may inhibit weight loss in obese patients. Additionally, studies show higher baseline vitamin D levels predicted greater loss of abdominal fat. Weightloss is blazing a trail with their unique strategy and approach to weight loss. Vitamin D is just one of the many components considered in initial testing for new patients determined to meet their weight loss goals.
Through a medically-supervised program, Weightloss combine FDA-approved appetite suppressants, dietary supplements, vitamin and mineral based injections, and vitamins with nutritionally guided meal planning and exercise counseling.
At the core of the program is a diet comprised of lean protein, low carbohydrates, low fats, and low glycemic index fruits and vegetables. Once the patient reaches his or her weight loss goal, they move into the Short-Term Maintenance phase. In this phase, your daily calorie and energy expenditures are increased to maintain your new weight. The final phase, called the Wellness phase, truly demonstrates the long-term vision of Weightloss.