Vitamin D - Do You Need To Supplement?
Posted by Arja on November 2 in Holistic Health, Nutrition
Have you thought much about what the individual vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients do inside your body? What about whether or not you are getting enough of them? You can use supplements, on top of good nutrition, to make sure that you get a balanced amount of the nutrients that are vital to good health, but sometimes, for a variety of reasons, that isn’t enough. Symptoms are the body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right, and often these symptoms can also lead us to discover nutritional deficiencies. Blood work, and other testing, is another great tool for assessing where you’re at and what areas need extra support.
Consider this post my personal PSA (public service announcement) for getting regular blood work done, and for paying out of pocket for a few extra tests. Vitamin D status is one of those things that can be evaluated through a blood test, but if you live in Ontario it will cost you $35. It’s worth getting done.
I haven’t been feeling 100% up to full speed lately and decided to ask my doctor to requisition some blood work to see if anything might be going on that was contributing to the problem. At the same time I asked for a Vitamin D status because it has been a few years since I had it checked. My Vitamin D levels are very low, despite the fact that I supplement fall-spring and regularly spend time outside without sunscreen during the summer months. Lower light levels in the northern hemisphere combined with clothing and less time outside reduce natural absorption for the sun, especially in the winter. Clearly my current strategy isn’t working for me, so I’ll reevaluate what I’m doing. In the meantime I’ve bumped up my Vitamin D dose to get my levels back up and then I’ll re-test and see where I’m at.
Why am I so concerned about low Vitamin D levels (and why should you get yours checked)? Well, here are a few of the things that Vitamin D does in your body:
- Used for the absorption of and maintaining proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which are needed for healthy bones and teeth
- Regulates some hormones (vitamin D acts as a vitamin and a hormone)
- Essential part of a healthy nervous system
- Required for normal cell growth and maturation
- Plays a role in cancer prevention, especially colon, breast and prostate (possibly via immune system support)
- New research points to positive impact on mental health – supplementing has been shown to improve depression scores in those who are suffering
The thing with Vitamin D is that it’s incredibly difficult to get through diet alone; there are few food sources and digestive issues can compromise absorption.
Dietary sources include:
- Oily fish – sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, halibut, and tuna
- Egg yolks
- Fish liver oils
- Fortified milk products
There are also a few plant sources of vitamin D, though it’s a different form and you’ll absorb less – mushrooms and dark leafy greens are the best sources. Vitamin D also requires fat for absorption.
If you aren’t already supplementing, I highly recommend that you start. You’ll find that most doctors and other healthcare practitioners recommend that you take at least 1000IU daily for general health and disease prevention, and if you’re deficient that amount will increase greatly.
So the next time you’re getting blood work done, consider adding Vitamin D status to the list. Knowledge is power!