Before we discuss the possible reasons for this epidemic, I’ll explain briefly what vitamin D is and how our bodies use it to sustain our health. The biggest natural source of vitamin D is sun exposure. When the skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun, the body converts a prohomone in the skin to an active form of vitamin D through several steps that involve the liver and kidneys. This active form of vitamin D is a hormone that is used to regulate calcium and phosphorus levels in the body, thus playing a crucial part in bone health and whose deficiency can contribute to the development of osteoporosis- another issue of epidemic proportions. In addition to bone health, vitamin D plays a critical role in immune, cardiovascular, respiratory and muscle function. If you need further convincing of its importance, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma in children, cognitive impairment, depression and more. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to most of the major killers of our time and it’s affecting more people than ever before.
So, why? Why in Southern California where it’s 75 degrees and sunny for 90 percent of the year, are so many people deficient in vitamin D? Yes, it is still possible to get vitamin D from the sun. But there are variables involved that need to be considered. In order for someone to get their daily IU of vitamin D in the recommended 10-15 minutes of sunshine:
· They need to have most of their body exposed
· They cannot be wearing sunscreen
· It needs to be in the middle of the day and in summer
· You must have moderately light colored skin
Additionally, the farther away you are form the equator, the more time is needed spent in the sun. For example, someone sunbathing in Seattle needs to stay in the sun for 28 minutes to get as much vitamin D as someone who stays out for 7 minutes in San Diego.
Other reasons for the rise in vitamin D deficiency include:
· Our ever increasing indoor lifestyle
· Air pollution reduces UV rays
· Fear of skin cancer leads to more religious sunscreen use and sun avoidance entirely.
· Reduction in cholesterol intake (Cholesterol is involved in the absorption of vitamin D in the gut)
· The obesity epidemic- the liver of an obese individual does not convert as much vitamin D as a healthy person’s. Additionally, they need more vitamin D to function.
· Farm raised salmon and factory farm raised chickens/ eggs have 4X’s less vitamin D than wild or free-range game.
· Common drugs such as antiseizure medications, Prednisone, AIDS drugs, and steroids amongst many others, inhibit production of vitamin D
· Roundup (the most common pesticide used on American soil- 180 million pounds a year to be exact) disrupts enzymes needed to produce vitamin D
Considering these factors, it is easy to see why vitamin D deficiency is a growing problem. The progression of our society is making it harder and harder to obtain necessary nutrients for life. Luckily, supplementation can be highly effective in treating vitamin D deficiency and our clinic uses it frequently. Getting enough on your own is still possible, though like many other areas of health, it takes awareness and a conscious effort.
The most commonly seen recommended serum levels of vitamin D are between 30-100 ng/ml. However, at Revive we believe levels are truly optimal at 65 ng/ml or higher and. Levels can be proved with a simple blood test and we recommend testing 3-4 times a year as levels can easily fluctuate with seasonal and lifestyle changes. If you haven’t recently had your vitamin D tested, come to our clinic to get a test ordered today!
By: Katie Koniakowsky
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