It’s at this time of year that I notice signs of vitamin D deficiency in my clinic. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and so can be stored in the liver to be used when stores run low.
Vitamin D is found in some foods – the best sources are sardines, egg yolk, mackerel, salmon, beef liver and cod liver oil – but most of our vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight. Our skin contains vitamin D receptors which help to regulate our vitamin D levels. These are determined by genes and not everyone has fully functioning receptors. It is very common to have a SNP on these receptors, which can mean that your ability to absorb vitamin D is impaired.
This might mean that during the winter months, when we don’t get enough sun, that a deficiency might occur. Our receptors can also slow down as we get older and make us less able to absorb vitamin D.
What are the signs of vitamin D deficiency?
Low mood, depression, poor bone health, blood sugar problems so a craving for sweet or high carbohydrate sugary foods and frequent colds and infections.
Why is vitamin D so important?
• Bone health – Vitamin D is essential for bone health and helps to regulate calcium levels in the body. A deficiency in vitamin D can lead to bone problems such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
• Immune health – Vitamin D helps to mature our white blood cells, our first line of defence in most types of infection. In particular there has been research that links low vitamin D levels with an increase in respiratory infections or asthma attacks.
• Blood sugar control – There is a link in people with high blood sugar and diabetes having low levels of vitamin D. I know personally that I have very poor vitamin D receptors genetically and one of the first signs I get of a deficiency is a craving for sugar and sugary carbohydrates.
When I supplement with a vitamin D supplement, I notice a difference within days.
• Low mood – Vitamin D helps to regulate genes that release neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. It has been suggested that SAD (seasonal affective disorder) may be due to changing levels of Vitamin D3 in the brain, which may affect serotonin levels.
Last month, I offered my newsletter subcribers’ a vitamin D test for £25. Of those that tested, via an at home finger prick blood test, over 90% were low in this vitamin (including myself!).
The normal reference range for vitamin D is large 50-175nmol/L. Lower than 50 is cause for concern. I find that 50-60 is still not adequate and clients are usually displaying some symptoms. I prefer to see levels around 80nmol/L or higher. It’s important to note that, due to vitamin D being a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s important to test for levels before supplementing.
Also, levels should be monitored after three months of supplementation to determine that levels don’t increase too much and be a concern.
Vitamin D also requires good levels of other minerals to ensure that absorption is optimal so be careful of supplementing without getting advice first from a health practitioner first.
Happy Christmas from all of us at The Health Boost, we’ll see you in 2020!