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The ins and outs of Vitamin D

I would always advise you to get as many of your vitamins and minerals from natural sources, such as non-processed foods, as much as possible. Due to a variety of reasons such as poor soil quality, GMO’s, use of roundup, etc, there are some vitamins and minerals that we simply cannot procure only from food.

For now, we are going to tackle Vitamin D.

Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with severe periodontitis due to its importance in bone metabolism. In addition, it is also involved in other metabolic pathways that affect immune response, mood, sleep, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, chronic inflammatory diseases, autoimmune conditions, and certain types of cancer.

Vitamin D is more of a hormone precursor than a vitamin, and is vital for optimal health. Yes, you can get it from the sun and this is the ideal way to get it if you have the luxury of having adequate skin exposure in the middle of the day on a daily basis. Adequate exposure means minimal clothing and typically 10-20 minutes depending upon your skin tone (darker skinned individuals require longer exposure). But even in the best of years, that luxury does not exist in my home state of Oregon (or many other parts of the world of course). And unless you are using a UVB tanning bed or eating fatty fish, beef liver, and egg yolks on a daily basis, chances are that you are deficient.

A simple blood test will tell you where you lie on the “normal” scale, but keep in mind that normal does not necessarily mean ideal. Unfortunately, when the powers that be made “normalcy” scales, they simply took a bunch of data from a large group of random people and plotted it on a bell curve. So if we know that most people are vitamin D deficient and they took samples from this large group of vitamin D deficient people, suddenly vitamin D deficiency appears to be “normal”. So if your doc tells you that your vitamin D levels are fine because you are at the low end of normal, please look into this matter further, as there is a good chance that you will want to supplement until you are in the mid- to high- normal range.

Since diet and sun may not provide you with the optimum amount of vitamin D that your body requires, you should consider supplementation because it is so important in bone health. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium and phosphorus, both of which are essential for the strength of your bones and the structure of your bones. Without Vitamin D, children develop rickets – a disease characterized by soft, weak bones. And there are multiple studies that show a direct link between low Vitamin D levels and periodontal disease. It is believed that sunlight actually decreases the risk of periodontitis, so get out there and soak up those rays!

Need additional convincing? Although the Food and Nutrition Board only recommends 600 IU per day as a minimum and 3,000 IU as a maximum, the Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000-10,000 IU per day. As you can see, there is quite a variation in recommendations, but considering that so many people are either deficient or at the low-end of normal for Vitamin D levels, it makes sense to lean towards the higher recommendations for a few months until you have tested and confirmed that your levels are adequate, which in my opinion is between 50 and 70 ng/mL.

I also recommend Vitamin D for your little ones. It is the only supplement I consistently give to my children. There are a variety of drops that you can use for this. Or better yet, get those

kiddos playing outside! We certainly don't want them to burn, but getting a bit of that midday sun without sunscreen is the single best way for your body to produce and utilize this hormone/vitamin.

Toxicity is uncommon and occurs with much higher doses than those given above, typically 40,000 IU per day for several months. But even so, it is best to consult with your physician when considering any supplement.

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