You may have heard Vitamin D being referred to as the “sunshine” vitamin, and there’s a good reason for this. When the skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun it produces Vitamin D in the body. That’s why in the winter, when the days are shorter and people are outside less, they tend to develop a Vitamin D deficiency. This is especially true for those who live in the northern hemisphere, those with darker skin tones and people who spend very little time outdoors.
Vitamin D plays many important roles in your body including immune system support, fighting inflammation and protecting bone health which is why supplementing during the winter is especially important.
Immune System Support
The thing is, we absorb less Vitamin D in the winter when our body really needs it, the most-cold and flu season. Cold and flu viruses thrive in cold, dry air which is why infection rates increase October through March. Vitamin D helps to balance and strengthen the immune system, and people who are susceptible to common cold and influenza infections are associated with low Vitamin D levels in the body. T-cells and other immune cells are boosted by proper levels of Vitamin D which help to decrease inflammation and fight off infection. This is further strengthened when accompanied with Vitamin A and C supplementation which also aids in immune system function.
If you’re old enough, you may recall the ‘Got Milk?’ ad campaigns of the 1990s. The ads included celebrities and pro-athlete superstars like Jennifer Aniston and Dennis Rodman sporting goofy milk mustaches to promote the benefits of milk for healthy bones. Although we now know that milk is not the best source of Vitamin D, the ads were still on the right track.
Vitamin D is necessary for proper absorption of calcium from food in the intestine. This is important because together, Vitamin D and calcium are essential for bone health and bone mineralization. This is especially true if you are over the age of 50 or menopausal, both of which are associated with a higher chance of age related bone loss resulting in an increased risk of bone fracture.
Just like your bones and muscles, the heart has receptors for Vitamin D which help to regulate inflammatory cells associated with cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D also curbs high blood pressure by keeping arteries pliable and relaxed. This explains the link between higher rates of cardiovascular risk and stroke to low serum levels of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D not only keeps our heart, bones and immune system healthy and strong, but it plays a role in our gut health as well. This is because Vitamin D increases the amount of microbes in our gut which is correlated with a reduction of inflammation in the body. Additionally, an abundance of diverse, healthy microbiota is necessary for healthy digestion and paramount for helping the immune system defend against infection. Without Vitamin D, an overgrowth of bad (pathogenic) bacteria is possible, increasing the body’s vulnerability to dysfunction and disease.
How do you get Vitamin D?
The three ways your body gets vitamin D are from the sun, food and supplements. However, we’ve already discussed the difficulty of achieving proper levels in the winter – which leaves us with food and supplements. Food sources of Vitamin D are limited but they include:
- Fatty Fish such as salmon, swordfish and tuna
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
- Some mushrooms
- Orange juice fortified with Vitamin D
- Fortified dairy and plant milks
- Cereals fortified with Vitamin D
Even if these foods are a regular part of your diet, chances are it’s not enough for sufficient Vitamin D levels in the winter. Taking a daily supplement is the best way to make certain that you have enough Vitamin D for optimal health. You can find Vitamin D supplements in both tablet and liquid form, however liquid form supplements do not need to be broken down and digested.
Supplements like Ortho Molecular Liquid Vitamin D3 with K2 are the superior option when it comes to Vitamin D absorption.This is especially true for those with low stomach acid or other conditions that may cause poor gut absorption such as autoimmune disease, weak gut lining or damage to the intestines. An even better way to obtain Vitamin D is through intravenous therapy, also known as IV therapy, which delivers nutrients through the vein allowing 100% absorption.
Can you have too much Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which means it can build up in your body. Unlike water soluble vitamins, where excess is excreted through urine, extra Vitamin D can build up and become toxic. This is why it’s important to have your levels checked with a professional prior to any supplementation. At OWM Integrative Wellness, a blood panel is included with your wellness visit to check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies.This includes any intravenous therapy appointments-unlike many clinics that offer a one size fits all approach to their Vitamin IV bags. To learn more about our optimal healing environment and OWM’s integrative approach to full body health and wellness, call us today!