Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Rear view shot of the highlighted joints in a runner’s foot

With the change of seasons, comes shorter days and for most us that means less exposure to natural sunlight.  This not only means fading tans, but it could also lead to Vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D (available in 3 forms: D-1, D-2, D-3) is a fat soluble vitamin that your body produces in response to ultraviolet rays otherwise known as natural sunlight.

Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, with receptors throughout the nervous system and brain.  Vitamin D has been shown to activate and deactivate enzymes in the brain and spinal fluid that are involved in nerve growth, synaptic density and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Vitamin D is most commonly known for how it regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, supporting bone and teeth health, but Vitamin D is involved in much more.  Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system, prevents heart disease, reduces the risk of cancer, regulates mood, hinders depression and supports weight loss.  The Journal of the American Medical Association published a 2006 study reporting that Vitamin D reduces the risk of Multiple Sclerosis.  Healthy Vitamin D levels have also been credited with improved sleep and lessened aches and pains.

Signs and symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency may include: osteomalacia (soft bones), osteoporosis (fragile bones), malaise and fatigue, severe bone and muscle pain and stress fractures most commonly in the lower body.  If you or your Dr are concerned, a simple blood test to assess your current vitamin D levels.

The skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D is affected by many factors including: season, time of day, location, pollutants, sunscreen and topicals, skin color and age.  Due to growing concerns regarding skin health and cancer prevention supplements and natural food sources are often recommended as an alternative to sun exposure. Some Vitamin D rich foods are: Wild-caught fish (especially salmon and mackerel), liver, egg yolks, canned fish, fortified tofu, shiitake mushrooms, almond milk, milk (whole, non-fat, reduced-fat), cheese, butter, yogurt, orange juice, oatmeal, cod liver oil, oysters and shrimp.

If you opt for a supplement Vitamin D3 is most often used because it is the most effective at increasing Vitamin D serum levels.  Because vitamins D3 and K2 work symbiotically they are commonly taken together or offered as a single supplement.  It has been shown that Vitamin D3 improves the absorption of calcium and K2 allows the body to deposit the calcium. Since Vitamin D is fat soluble it is recommended to take it with healthy fats to increase its bioavailability.

Always follow recommended doses and consult your Doctor, as Vitamin D toxicity is possible.  Overdosing on Vitamin D may cause, nausea, vomiting, frequent urination and fatigue.

 

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New Jersey Top Doctor 2017
New Jersey Top Doctor 2017
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Monmouth Health and Life Magazine Reader's Choice Award 2016 Winner
Monmouth Health and Life Magazine Reader's Choice Award 2016 Winner