The sun plays an important role in our health that simply cannot be ignored. When exposed to sunlight, our bodies synthesize Vitamin D, an essential nutrient that plays a key role in the absorption of Calcium and Phosphorus, which are involved in bone growth and the maintenance of bone health. With the winter season coming up, there will be less sunlight outside, and the cold weather will also keep people indoors. Therefore, this time of the year is especially troublesome for those with chronically-low Vitamin D level issues.
Factors that contribute to Vitamin D deficiency include: living in northern states (above 37° latitude); old age; darker skin color; high body mass index (BMI); diet; and health conditions that impact Vitamin D absorption. Low Vitamin D levels set individuals at risk for certain bone-related diseases like osteoporosis. Yet, published evidence is not conclusive enough to suggest that low Vitamin D levels cause common chronic diseases; for instance, the results of the recent Vitamin D and Omega-3 Trial indicate that Vitamin D supplementation does not decrease the risks of cardiovascular disease or cancer. However, the entire medical community has moved in a direction that has resulted in increased Vitamin D level screening and prescription-based treatment for its deficiency, which is determined by a blood test lab value that varies depending on which physician or healthcare organization is discussing the matter.
While researchers find out more about the effects of low Vitamin D levels, it is best to rely on existing medical information and follow the dietary recommendations that would sustain normal Vitamin D levels. According to health.gov, the best dietary sources of Vitamin D include salmon (and other fish products), dairy products such as milk, and fortified products like Vitamin D-fortified orange juice. These are food items we need to be consuming in order to maintain Vitamin D levels when sunlight is scarce and being outdoors is made difficult.
Another good way to treat low Vitamin D levels is to take daily vitamin supplements with moderate levels of. It’s not common to “overdose” on Vitamin D, but Vitamin D deficiency is best addressed when Vitamin D is introduced into one’s system in moderation, which is 600-800 IU daily. Excessive daily doses of Vitamin D, at over 4000 IU, are in fact more harmful than beneficial. Those who can’t manage to consume dietary sources of Vitamin D daily would be better off with vegetarian-based daily multivitamins, which provide ample amount of Vitamin D among other nutrients.
With the holidays and winter coming up, it is easy to forget the importance of maintaining Vitamin D levels. That’s why it’s important to set daily reminders to get regular check-ups, maintain a healthy diet, and use multivitamin supplements as needed.
Don’t let the upcoming holiday season be an excuse to forget about healthy habits. Sustain your health and well-being this season by incorporating healthy levels of Vitamin D in your diet!