Tenacious D: Benefits of the vital vitamin
Dr. Melanie Brown | Originally published by The Mountain Times on 03/01/2023
When we were in Maui for Christmas this year, we wanted to “bottle it up” and take it home. Our lingering colds disappeared, our moods improved, and our energy increased. Unfortunately, you can’t bring the beach back with you. Instead, give yourself a little “liquid sunshine” to help you through the winter months in the form of vitamin D.
Typically, the best way to get our nutrients is through a healthy diet. However, our diets are often lacking in nutrients, and adequate vitamin D levels are challenging to get through diet or sunshine alone. Thus, I advise most patients to take a whole-food-based multivitamin, mercury-free Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D3.
Why is vitamin D so important to our health?
Vitamin D is vital because it helps your body sustain normal calcium and phosphorus levels to build bone. In addition, it is important for muscle, nerve, and immune function. Finally, Vitamin D can reduce inflammation, reduce cancer cell growth, and help control infections.
Also, your muscles, heart, brain and immune system and tissues have vitamin D receptors. This suggests more essential roles that researchers have not uncovered yet.
-High blood pressure
In addition, low vitamin D levels can affect the brain and are associated with schizophrenia, depression, and seasonal affective disorder.
Getting vitamin D via sunlight not always effective
When I was little, my mom always told me to go outside and “get some vitamin D!” That is not as easy as it sounds! When exposed to sunlight, your skin makes vitamin D from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin D synthesis.
According to Harvard University, the further away from the equator you live, the less vitamin D-producing UVB light reaches the earth’s surface. In the northern latitudes, most of the rays “bounce off” us. In addition, long sleeves, sunscreen, and darker skin also block vitamin D.
A Biotics rep once told me to get enough vitamin D from the sun, we must lie naked at the equator for 15 minutes daily. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get the pleasure of doing that. And because it is also challenging to get adequate vitamin D from our diet, it is wise to take vitamin D supplements, especially in the winter months. And because ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer, we should avoid excessive sun exposure and tanning beds.
How much vitamin D should we consume daily?
The recommended minimum daily amount of vitamin D is:
-400 international units (IU) for children up to 12 months
-600 IU for people ages 1-70
-800 IU for people older than 70 years old.
These figures are based on limited sun exposure. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the maximum daily dose unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for vitamin D for adults and children ages 9 and older is 4,000 IU/day (100 mcg).
For adults, 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day of vitamin D from a supplement is generally safe, offering an adequate blood level of vitamin D while providing additional health benefits. For adults, do not take daily vitamin D supplements containing more than 4,000 IU unless monitored under the supervision of your doctor.
Baby formula has 400 IU per liter. Thus, babies drinking at least 32 ounces daily get enough for the minimum amount. If your baby drinks only breast milk or gets less than 32 ounces of fortified formula each day, ask your doctor about giving your baby a vitamin D supplement. Babies need vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Too little vitamin D can cause rickets, a skeletal disorder that results in soft, weak bones.
Where to find vitamin D in your diet
Vitamin D is not found in many foods. However, you can find it in egg yolks, cheese, cod liver oil, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and tuna. Unfortunately, the amount of vitamin D in these foods is relatively small. Other foods and beverages — such as milk, yogurt, and breakfast cereals — are fortified with vitamin D.
Since adequate vitamin D intake is challenging through diet and sun alone, I like to use Biotics Bio-D-Mulsion (400 IU/drop) or Bio-D-Musion Forte (2,000 IU/ drop). This supplement is made from lambswool fat and comes in an oil-and-water emulsion for better absorption. It comes in a small dropper bottle, so keeping it next to your toothbrush or in your purse to take daily is easy.
When you can’t make it up to Mount Hood for T-shirt skiing on a bluebird day, get a little liquid sunshine in the form of a vitamin D supplement. Your body and mood will thank you!