Let’s talk about Vitamin D. The first thing we need to clear up is that Vitamin D is not a vitamin in the typical sense of Vitamins. It is in actual fact a steroid hormone, perhaps the most interesting thing about Vitamin D is that every single cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor. Your body makes vitamin D from cholesterol, this happens when your skin is exposed to sunlight. While Vitamin D is found naturally in some foods such as wild Atlantic salmon and eggs, it’s worth noting that the majority of foods rich in vitamin D are so thanks to fortification predominantly in dairy products. Due to the lack of naturally occurring vitamin D dense foods, it is very hard to get vitamin D from diet alone. (1)
Both Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are very common
An estimated 1 billion people globally believed to have low blood levels of vitamin D. One study found that 41.6% of adults in the US to be deficient. (2)
In the UK 29% of the population are deemed to have deficient levels of vitamin D, in fact, the NHS estimates the entire general population has insufficient levels so much so that it has issued a blanket recommendation stating that everyone in the UK supplement with vitamin D in the winter months. (3)
Why do we need it so much?
Vital in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, vitamin D is required by the body to build and maintain bone strength and integrity. In children, the consequence of low vitamin D leads to the development of soft bones (rickets) where adults develop fragile, misshapen bones (osteomalacia). Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis (the loss of bone density), which in turn can lead to fractures.
The parathyroid gland works in a continuous feedback loop to balance calcium levels in the blood, the kidneys gut and skeleton are involved in this process. When there are sufficient levels of vitamin D, dietary calcium can be absorbed and used throughout the body. However, if calcium levels are insufficient or vitamin D levels are too low the parathyroid glands will allow the use of calcium from the skeleton in order to keep the blood calcium in the normal range leading to brittle bones. Low levels of vitamin D and high levels of Calcium can lead to the calcification of blood vessels.
Vitamin D plays a key role in keeping our immune system strong helping you fight of viruses and bacteria that lead to illness.
If you’re someone who is frequently ill it may be worth having your vitamin D levels checked. There have been a number of large studies that have shown a link between deficiency and respiratory tract infections such as colds, bronchitis, and pneumonia. (4)
Fatigue and tiredness have multiple causes, vitamin D deficiency is one that is often overlooked. Studies have shown that very low vitamin D blood levels can cause fatigue that severely affect quality of life. (5)
Slow wound healing after injury or surgery may indicate that your vitamin D levels are low, studies have shown that vitamin D increases the production of compounds that are crucial for the formation of new skin as part of the wound-healing process (6)
Often attributed to stress hair loss can be a result of nutrient deficiency. In women, it is often linked to low Vitamin D levels. Alopecia areata an autoimmune disease, characterized by severe hair loss from the head and other areas of the body is associated with rickets in children which is linked to vitamin D deficiency. (7,8,9,10)
Muscle pain is often difficult to pinpoint, the receptor for Vitamin D is present in nerve cells called nociceptors in muscles. One study found that 71% of people with chronic pain were deficient in Vitamin D another study of 120 children with vitamin D deficiency who had growing pains showed that a single dose of the vitamin reduced pain score by an average of 57% (11,12)
As a Nutritional Therapist, I have run my fair share of vitamin D tests. To this day every single one has shown a result of deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels.
Even those who live in hot countries where the angle of the sun is sufficient to achieve optimum vitamin D status via sun exposure only have come back as insufficient or deficient. I find myself pleading with people to spend at least ½ an hour a day outside with the least amount of clothing on as feasible or socially acceptable, to allow their bodies the chance to generate as much vitamin D as possible. In countries where the angle of the sun only allows for Vitamin D to be naturally created in your body in the summer months, I would always recommend that you supplement with Vitamin D3 ensuring that the supplement you chose has the cofactor vitamin K2 as this will allow your body to absorb the vitamin D.
Co-factors are complicated which is why you should always consult a trained professional before you self-medicate with vitamins and minerals. If you think your vitamin D levels are low and would like some advice why not book in a call to see how I can help you.