Living in the modern world has its advantages and disadvantages. Technologically speaking, we’re far better off than we were, say, 100 years ago. Nutritionally speaking, we’re far worse in many ways.
As surprising as it might sound, nearly all Americans suffer from at least 1 form of nutritional deficiency.
One of the most common deficiencies is Vitamin D. In fact, most Americans aren’t aware they suffer from a lack of Vitamin D. This is partly because we all tend to believe our diets are rich with it (people who drink lots of milk, for example, would never guess they’re deficient). What most people don’t realize is that, despite its name, Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin in the traditional sense. It’s actually a steroid hormone that we’re meant to receive primarily through sunlight, not diet.
Who is Vitamin D Deficient?
Thanks to various scientific studies, we now know more about our body’s relationship with vitamin D. Some of the results are staggering.
· The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly 32% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. This percentage vastly increases when considering the CDC used vitamin D levels not consistent with optimal health.
· The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that children between the ages of 1 and 5 were 50% likely to suffer from insufficient Vitamin D levels. They also reported that children between the ages of 6 and 11 were a shocking 70% likely to suffer from insufficient levels!
·Most researchers tend to agree the general population is somewhere around 50% deficient.
· It’s estimated that about 95% of senior citizens are vitamin D deficient due to their lack of sun exposure and the fact that their bodies naturally produce less vitamin D than younger individuals.
· People with an increased level of skin pigmentation, such as from African, Middle Eastern, or Indian descent, are also at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency. It was found that their skin may need as much as 10x more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with fairer skin.
Signs You Might Be Vitamin D Deficient:
There is only 1 known way to detect if you’re vitamin D deficient: blood testing. That being said, there are a number of “signs” or “clues” that indicate vitamin D deficiency:
· You have darker skin. Darker skinned individuals are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency
· You’re over the age of 50. As you age, your skin becomes less efficient in converting sun exposure to vitamin D.
· You suffer from bouts of depression. Your brain produces serotonin—a mood-regulating hormone—when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Feeling “blue” can be a sign your brain is not producing enough serotonin due to lack of sun exposure, and therefore vitamin D.
· You’re overweight or unusually muscular Because vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a traditional vitamin, those with excess body fat and large amounts of muscle in turn require additional Vitamin D
· You have a sweaty forehead. One of the earliest signs of a vitamin D deficiency is a sweaty head.
· You have problems with your gut. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, having stomach issues can prevent your body from absorbing it.
· You have chronic aches and pains in your bones. A vitamin D deficiency can affect skeletal health. As a result, your bones ache and throb.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin D?
There are a variety of benefits and health attributes associated with vitamin D. Here are some of the most important:
· It’s good for your bones! Having a sufficient amounts of vitamin D in your system allows for proper calcium absorption.
· It’s important to cardiovascular health. Vitamin D is important for reducing the likelihood of atherosclerotic heart disease, hypertension, heart attack, and stroke.
· Vitamin D is an immune modulator, making it very important for preventing autoimmune disease.
· It helps in fighting infections of all kinds, including the flu
· It helps with DNA repair, which is crucial to a healthy immune system.
What Are Optimum Vitamin D Levels?
An ideal range for general health and regulation is somewhere between 50 and 70 ng/ml. However, without proper blood testing, it’s all but impossible to know exactly what your levels are. If you’d like to know exactly where your own vitamin D levels stand, getting a blood test at a local clinic is the easiest method.
How Do I Reach Optimum Level?
As far as how to reach optimum levels of vitamin D, sun exposure is generally the easiest way. As stated above, taking a supplement orally is not a sufficient substitute to sun exposure. Staying in the sun for roughly half the time it takes for your skin to receive a mild sunburn is usually an ideal amount of time. For example, if you get a mild sunburn after 20 minutes of sun exposure, then 10 minutes will likely be enough time to raise your Vitamin D production. If you have to count exclusively on an oral supplement, then remember to take Vitamin K as well as—it helps the body with vitamin D absorption.