Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

by Brandi Grimmer

Many would know their cholesterol level, blood pressure, and maybe even fasting blood glucose. These are routinely checked and are used for markers to diagnose disease. What about your vitamin D level? How many know that? Our vitamin D level can also be considered a snapshot to our overall health.

Vitamin D is one of the fat soluble vitamins needed by our bodies. We call it a vitamin, but it is actually a steroid hormone produced from cholesterol upon exposure to the sun.

Most promoted for its role in bone health, and increasing calcium absorption; vitamin D has benefits that extend way beyond. These include improved mental health and brain function, improved immune function, decrease in pain, appetite reduction, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as an overall sense of wellbeing.

Surprisingly, low vitamin D levels have been associated with all chronic diseases. It’s hard to say whether low vitamin D is the cause, but in every case a deficiency is present. Vitamin D is one of the top nutrient deficiencies seen today. (I once heard it described as a silent epidemic, and I think that is true.) A simple blood test will tell you where you fall.  Optimal range is between 50-70ng/ML. I know my level is 31ng/ML, which is considered deficient.

The best way to get vitamin D is via our friend sunshine. Unfortunately we live in Michigan and we don’t see the sun very often. Add to the use of sunscreen which blocks the harmful rays of the sun and therefore production of vitamin D, it shouldn’t be a shock that we need more.

The best food sources of vitamin D are from fatty fish (cod, tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines) and eggs. Otherwise, the food we is eat is ‘fortified’ by adding in additional vitamin D. This makes it very hard to maintain normal levels. Therefore, the best way is to supplement. It can be fair to assume 2000- 5000IU of vitamin D3 daily is needed to maintain current level, and higher doses can be necessary. There is perceived misconception that because vitamin D is stored in our fat, taking too much or any, can become toxic. Rest assured, toxicity symptoms are a rarity, and have only been noted when really high doses (50,000IU) are used for many years.

Lets embrace the power of the sun, but don’t forget to include vitamin D!

Brandi is a certified nutritional consultant at Keystone Pharmacy. She believes that total health is dependent on proper diet, exercise, and nutritional supplementation.



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