Soak up some Vitamin D!

ALL ABOUT VITAMIN Dby Katie McDonald, PA-C

How much do you know about Vitamin D?
Most people associate Vitamin D with being the “sunlight vitamin.”  While it is true that you do get Vitamin D from the sun, you can also get some D vitamins from food as well!

What exactly is it and why do we even need it?
Vitamin D is produced in the skin, activated by the kidneys, and then transported to the tissues for use.  It is a precursor to Cholesterol and is essential in energy metabolism.  Your body stores excess in your adipose tissues with the adipose levels being 12 times the level you will find in your blood.  The body is able to store enough for 1-2 months on average!

What organs does this vitamin benefit?

  1. Bones- Vitamin D assists with calcium absorption in the gut and depositing mineral into the bone.  It is important in helping with osteomalacia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.
  2. Neuro- Vitamin D helps with brain function and mental health.  They are finding links to dementia, autism, ADHD, concussions, MS, and Parkinson disease.  More research will be needed before we know the full effects of Vitamin D on these diseases.
  3. Pain- There is an analgesic sparing effect, which means that it helps with pain sensitivity.  D improves the activity of NSAIDs and opiods.  Studies have shown that if a patient is vitamin D deficient that may need up to 2 times the amount of pain medication compared to patients who are sufficient in their Vit D reserves.
  4. Immune System- Vit D reduces inflammation and stimulates the immune system we were born with, also known as our innate immune system.

How can I get my vitamin D?
D3 is more readily available for the body to use than D2.  If you are not going in the sun enough, you’ll need to take D3 vitamins. You also need to keep in mind that there are a few co-factors that are needed to help in the conversion.  Magnesium is required to activate the vitamin D.  This also aids in calcium functioning correctly.  Many of us are magnesium deficient.  K2 is also needed to help direct the calcium deposition into the skeletal system.  Daily supplementation would be 150-300 mg a day.  Vitamin A needs to be balanced along with vitamin D.  Calcium is the last cofactor needed- if a person has severe vitamin D deficiency it will increase PTH which increases calcium loss from bones, so you need to ensure you are supplementing appropriately. 

15 minutes of sun exposure daily would be optimal- that is without using UVB blocking sunscreen- you can even get enough on cloudy days!  6 days of sunlight has the potential to make up for 49 days without it! The absorption and conversion can take up to 48 hours though and some studies are showing that when we use soap it is effectively blocking the conversion. 

What happens if I get too much vitamin D?
Over supplementation is the only way this would be possible and it would take 100,000-600,000 IU daily to reach that point.  Symptoms would include constipation, weakness, appetite suppression, weight loss, hypocalcaemia, and N/V.

As with all supplements, you should make sure that you are actually taking what your body needs.  Schedule a vitamin assessment or request Spectracell testing to check your vitamin and nutritional levels on the cellular level.

Katie McDonald is a Physician Assistant at Nouriche. She works closely with Dr. Cobb sees patients in both the medical practice and the aesthetic practice at Nouriche.