You have all heard it before: Stay out of the sun, use 30 SPF sunblock, and apply copious amounts of it.
For the most part, I do encourage patients to avoid excessive exposure to the sun; the risks of skin cancers, premature skin aging, and wrinkles are a real threat. On the other hand, I also deal with how the lack of sunlight affects patients on a daily basis.
Many forget the vital role that the sun plays in vitamin D production. Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is produced in the skin under the effects of ultraviolet radiation, This is the active form that our body utilizes in order to carry out many important metabolic processes, including proper calcium absorption for bone health. Vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol) is found in some plant products and is completely inactive in our bodies.
I became interested in the role of vitamin D after reading an article in The New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D. He points out the importance of vitamin D, and how many problems can be caused by a lack of it. He notes that vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common unrecognized medical conditions, and estimates that there are over one billion people worldwide at risk for vitamin D deficiency, with 30-50% of children and adults in the United States at high risk for this potentially life-threatening condition. When I originally learned about vitamin D at Cornell Medical School, we were told that just daily exposure to the sun provided adequate vitamin D for optimal health…how times have changed!
Vitamin D can be easily and accurately measured in the blood. I encourage you to know your serum level! Ask for a 25-Hydroxyvitamin D test to be done the next time you are due for blood work. The minimum acceptable serum level is 25-35, but for optimal health, I recommend a level of 50 to 100.
While there are some foods that provide vitamin D3 (fish liver oil, egg yolks, fatty fish), the quantities are often insufficient.
Liquid Vitamin D3/K2 is a perfect combination of Vitamin D3 and K2 that provides powerful support for the whole body. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption from the intestinal tract, and a growing body of evidence suggests that vitamin K2 is needed for the body to properly use the calcium in bone. Optimal vitamin D-3 supplementation dosage depends on the individual and is best determined by your physician based on blood results. Common dosing for vitamin D-3 is 1000 iu daily, but if a person is very deficient, we may recommend up to 5000iu daily. Consult your physician before supplementing with vitamin D.
1. Request a vitamin D blood test the next time you are having blood work done.
2. Get a bone density study. I recommend all women get their first bone density between the ages of 40-45, and men get a bone density in their early 60s.
3. If your vitamin D levels are not sufficient (less than 50), ask your healthcare provider whether you should add to get the maximum effect from your calcium.
4. Keep healthy with regular weight-bearing, aerobic exercise
5. Speak to your healthcare provider before taking vitamin D, if you have a history of kidney stones or a parathyroid gland imbalance.
If you have any additional questions or thoughts on Vitamin D, please submit them in the comments section below or on ourFacebook page.
This article does not establish a practitioner-patient relationship. Consult with your health provider on how supplements may affect your current condition or medications.
The Morrison Center
i Steingrimsdottir L, Gunnarsson O, Indridason OS, Franzson L, Sigurdsson G. Relationship Between Serum Parathyroid Hormone Levels, Vitamin D Sufficiency, and Calcium Intake. JAMA. 2005;294(18):2336-2341. doi:10.1001/jama.294.18.2336.
ii Munger KL, Levin LI, Hollis BW, Howard NS, Ascherio A. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels and Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. JAMA.2006;296(23):2832-2838. doi:10.1001/jama.296.23.2832.
iii Bertone-Johnson ER, Chen WY, Holick MF, Holis BW, Colditz GA, Willett WC, Hankinson SE. Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and risk of breast cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1991-7.
iv Lowe LC, Guy M, Mansi JL, Peckitt C, Bliss J, Wilson RG, Colston KW. Plasma 25-hydroxy vitamin D concentrations, vitamin D receptor genotype and breast cancer risk in a UK Caucasian population. European Journal of Cancer. 2005(41):1164-9.
v Wendling, P. Maternal Vitamin D Affects Children’s Asthma Risk. Family Practice News. May 1, 2006.
vi Walsh, N. Vitamin D Supplements Shown to Protect Against Melanoma Relapse. Family Practice News.
December 15, 2006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3897580/.
Accessed June 9, 2015.
vii Hyppönen E1, Läärä E, Reunanen A, Järvelin MR, Virtanen SM. Intake of vitamin D and risk of type 1 diabetes: a birth-cohort study. Lancet. 2001 Nov 3;358(9292):1500-3.
viii Bischoff-Ferrari HA1, Willett WC, Wong JB, Giovannucci E, Dietrich T, Dawson-Hughes B. Fracture prevention with vitamin D supplementation: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA. 2005 May 11;293(18):2257-64.
Vitamin D season is in full swing! While some sun exposure for vitamin D production is great for overall health, getting sunburned is always something to avoid. Everyone knows that excessive UV exposure damages skin. But did you know that the foods you eat regularly can improve your skin’s natural defenses against UV damage? It’s delicious and true!