Let’s Talk About Vitamin D First
Many folks may know that sunlight drives the body’s synthesis of Vitamin D. Ah yes, the “sunshine vitamin.” Well, that’s a problem if you’re like me and you live in the Bay Area or any city north of the same latitude (hello Denver, Washington DC, and the entire northern half of the US) where winter sunshine isn’t strong enough to produce sufficient amounts of daily Vitamin D. Couple that with faithful sunscreen use (SPF 15 decreases Vitamin D synthesis by 98%) and precious few minutes spent outdoors and our sun exposure drops even more.
And if you are darker-skinned (i.e. Asian, Hispanic, or African-American), you absorb even less sunlight due to the pigmented melanocytes in your skin. Check, check, check, and check. I fit all of the above criteria, so I dutifully had my Vitamin D level checked… Result: 17 ng/mL. Normal: 30-100.
There’s A Little More to This
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and thus stored in fat cells. If you are overweight or obese, more of your Vitamin D is stored and less is circulating so you are at even greater risk of deficiency.
But Why Should You Care If You Are Vitamin D-Deficient?
The benefits are well-documented. You cannot absorb Calcium if you don’t have Vitamin D in sufficient amounts. It would be a shame to be so faithful with your calcium supplements if your body weren’t absorbing that calcium and thus avoiding osteoporosis. Vitamin D also bolsters your immune system and improves depression. While causation is not firmly established, there is a strong association between Vitamin D deficiency and obesity. Does one lead to the other or treatment of one enhance reduction of the other? The jury is in deliberation. Current hypotheses suggest that weight loss might be enhanced via central (serotonin levels and satiety) and/or peripheral (fat cell signaling) mechanisms.
How do you Correct Vitamin D Deficiency?
This then begs the question of how to correct Vitamin D deficiency if one does not plan on adopting a nudist lifestyle in the tropics. Unfortunately, food is not a very viable alternative (small amounts only mushrooms and fatty fish species) as most people won’t eat sufficient quantities of those. Vitamin D3 is your most likely source for daily supplementation (600-2000IU/day), but get tested first as you might need a prescription catch-up regimen to get back to normal levels (i.e. Vitamin D2 50,000IU/week for 4 weeks).
Ask your primary care provider (it’s a good piece of any wellness screening) or see us at JumpstartMD.