Vitamin D is important for maintaining a healthy immune system
There are two ways we get vitamin D…
- From the sun
- By eating it – either in food or in supplement form
So why are you low in Vitamin D?
Here’s a checklist:
From the sun:
- You don’t go outside – sunlight streaming through a window feels good, but the important ultraviolet rays that are needed to make vitamin D are blocked by window glass.
- You don’t go outside when the sun is strong
- 10am-2pm is optimal time – you need enough ultraviolet rays to strike your skin to make vitamin D. Going out in the early morning or late evening hours doesn’t provide enough to make much vitamin D. Despite the warnings of dermatologists 10-2 is when the sun is the strongest and when you want to get sensible sun exposure to make vitamin D.
- Latitude – the farther north you live (or south if you live in the southern hemisphere) the weaker the sun’s rays are. Living in Seattle (pretty far north) the sun is only strong enough to make vitamin D from about March through October. The rest of the year it doesn’t matter how much sun you get (not that we get any sun!) you won’t make vitamin D.
- You don’t go outside with your skin exposed – the sunlight has to strike your skin
- You wear long sleeves/long pants – there is a myth floating around that exposing just your hands and face is enough skin to get enough vitamin D. It isn’t. Ideally you want to expose as much of your skin as possible (back and/or chest, but at least your arms & legs).
- You wear sunscreen – wearing sunscreen blocks almost all Vitamin D production. So going out with SPF 30 on (the most common) results in virtually no vitamin D production.
- You don’t stay outside long enough – the myth I hear goes hands and face for 10 minutes a few times a week is enough sun for all the vitamin D you need. It isn’t. The time you can spend in the sun depends on how dark your skin is. An average white person probably needs around 20 minutes in full sunlight. A very pale person less time, a very dark person a lot more time. The key is not to get burned, if you did, you spent too much time in the sun.
- You don’t eat food that has vitamin D in it: fatty fish, eggs, beef liver, and fish liver oils (like cod liver oil). Some foods now are fortified with vitamin D like milk. Often it isn’t enough, and the form is wrong, it’s from mushrooms (vitamin D2) not animals (vitamin D3; most supplemental vitamin D3 comes from sheep wool, so the animal is not harmed in its production)
But I’m taking a supplement of Vitamin D
- It’s not strong enough – many supplements are still available in 400 IU doses. Most adults are going to need between 1000-5000 IU per day. HERE is a great vitamin D supplement.
- You’re not digesting it because:
- The supplement is poor quality – vitamin D is fat soluble, that means it travels in fat. If your supplement is a dry powder or tablet the vitamin D is not going to be in fat and it will be poorly absorbed. A good vitamin D supplement should be liquid (either a bottle of liquid or a softgel capsule)
- Your digestion has problems – if things aren’t working properly in your digestion than no matter how much vitamin D your food has in it or how good of a supplement you are taking you won’t absorb it. You need to fix your digestion.
8. You’re deficient in the cofactors that are needed to produce or use vitamin D – magnesium, zinc, boron, vitamin K2, and vitamin A – If you’re missing the other nutrients needed to make vitamin D work, it can’t be made or work properly. HERE is a great vitamin D supplement.
9. You have genetic mutations – We know about this from the research literature as it hasn’t made it’s way into practice yet. But from studies we know that some people have mutations in the systems that make, absorb and use vitamin D. These people look like they need a lot more vitamin D to do the job than people without mutations in these areas. Hopefully in the not too distant future we’ll be able to find out if you have these mutations, but for now we can only make educated guesses.
10. You have a lot of inflammation – While the immune system needs vitamin D to function properly, inflammation “burns up” vitamin D. If you have chronic inflammation, you need vitamin D, and to get the inflammation under control to have normal vitamin D levels.
So there are 10 reasons you may be low in Vitamin D.
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