What Causes Vitamin D Deficiency? Learn The Truth Now!

vs-photo2It’s a beautiful sunny day in Colorado, and I’m sitting in my home office, in my jammies, writing this blog post.

In other words, I’m not getting any.

Vitamin D, that is.

In fact, chances are very good that unless you get out in the sun on a regular basis – without sunscreen- you aren’t getting any either.

And that’s a problem.

What causes vitamin D deficiency can be summed up simply: lack of sunshine on bare skin. It’s nearly impossible to get adequate amounts of vitamin D from your diet alone. That means a couple of glasses of vitamin D-enriched milk aren’t going to do it for you.

If you are interested in staying healthy, and in some cases, staying alive, you won’t skimp on “gettin’ your rays” anymore. According to the Vitamin D Council, vitamin D deficiency is a major factor in:

  • At least 17 varieties of cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle wasting
  • Birth defects
  • Periodontal disease

Now if that’s not enough to make you see the light of day, I don’t know what is.

In fact, recent statistics show that up to 85 percent of the American public is deficient in this crucial vitamin. This may be blamed, in large part, to the fact that the U.S. is a nation of indoor workers for the most part, AND the pervasive use of sunscreen.

How Much Sun Is Enough?

The very general rule of thumb is ten to fifteen minutes of sun exposure at least two- to three times per week to the face, arms, hands, or back – without sunscreen.

NOTE: I am not advocating that you go outside and bake like a lobster – of course you want to avoid sunburn.

But truthfully, it depends on a variety of factors. Anything that blocks the sun’s rays from reaching your skin will affect vitamin D synthesis. This includes the time of year, your age, the state or country you live in, time of day, cloud cover, smog, the pigment of your skin (the darker the skin, the less it absorbs), and, of course, sunscreen use. Even weak sunscreens (as low as SPF-8) can block your body’s ability to generate vitamin D by up to 95%.

If you live in a smoggy city (think L.A., Mexico City…) or a city with a lot of rain and/or frequent cloud cover (think Portland, parts of the U.K., Alaska…), are African-American, always wear sunscreen, or seldom get outside in the sun, consider yourself at risk for vitamin d deficiency symptoms.

What You Should Do Now:

  • Get Tested

Request a simple blood test, called the 25-hydroxy vitamin D, (at a clinic, doctor’s office, or lab near you) to find out for sure where your levels are.

  • Understand Your Results

According to the most recent research, optimal levels of vitamin D are between 50-65 ng/ml (ng/ml stands for nanograms per milliliter of blood). Anything below that is of concern. If your current health care provider balks at that, find a holistic MD, naturopath, or DO (doctor of osteopathy), who is up on the latest research in this area.

  • Supplement As Needed

If your levels are low, you’re going to need a combination of sunlight and vitamin D3 (also called cholecalciferol) supplements.
You may need a high amount – up to 5,000 IU or more per day – to get back to optimal blood levels of vitamin D. At these amounts, it’s best to be under a doctor’s supervision. It’s also important to supplement with calcium and magnesium at the same time – since these three nutrients work together – so check in with your doc on that one, too.

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