As a nutritionist and a chiropractor, I talk with many women in pain and struggling with hormonal issues. Nutritional sufficiencies are key to hormonal health, inflammation control, and whole-body health. If you don’t feed your body with the nutritional building blocks it requires to perform its daily functions it cannot expect it to work optimally!
A key nutrient is Vitamin D. This a vitamin that acts more like a hormone in the body. What does that mean? It means that every cell in your body has a receptor site for Vitamin D and every system relies on it for optimal function.
Vitamin D can be made by the body when your skin is exposed to UVB light. Hence it is called the sunshine vitamin! But a lot of us no longer are exposed to the sunlight, let alone with our skin exposed to the sun. We cover up and lather up with sunscreen, and this blocks our ability to make vitamin D. One in Four Australians are vitamin D deficient. And this is for a blood test reading of 50 nmol/L. (Which I would argue is a very low level already, a level that will prevent rickets, but may not lead to optimal health in all bodily systems. So likely that many more Australians need more Vitamin D for optimal health)
Deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to symptoms such as:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling tired all the time (even with adequate sleep)
- Deep ache in your bones, especially in your back
- Depression, anxiety, mood swings
- Sore muscles
- Losing your hair
- Immune issues – catch all the bugs that go around, recurrent infections
You might read this and think…. “I have all of that! but I already take vitamin D”
There could be a few reasons that might lead to vitamin D deficiency when you are already supplementing with it. You may not be absorbing it well, or you are not taking a quality product.
Stress is a major reason for vitamin D deficiency, along with some inherent absorption issues like Crohn’s disease, sluggish liver, inflammation, coeliac disease, or other diseases that inhibit the absorption or production of vitamin D.
Stress causes your body to need much higher levels of many nutrients, including vitamin D. So even if you supplement you may not have sufficient levels.
So, what are my top 7 reasons to increase your vitamin D levels?
- Immune Health
Vitamin D is essential for a well functioning immune system. A 2009 study showed that low Vitamin D levels are associated with an increase in colds and flu.
- Respiratory Health
In 2017, an analysis of clinical trials showed that taking vitamin D reduces the odds of developing a respiratory infection by approximately 42% in people with very low levels.
- Reducing Inflammation
Inflammation is a problem in most of the patients I see. Partnered with healthy diet choices and regular detoxification, vitamin D may help lower the inflammatory markers in your body to allow you to feel your best.
- Improve Sleep Quality
Studies show that having low vitamin D puts you at a much higher risk of sleep disorders including insomnia, sleep apnea, or just poor sleep quality.
- Improving Hormonal Balance
Vitamin D helps the detoxification of excess estrogen. Excess estrogen is the main cause of symptoms like breast tenderness, PMS, infertility, irregular periods, and many other symptoms that a lot of women over 35 just think are normal as they age and get perimenopausal. But vitamin D may be able to help balance the hormones and improve symptoms.
- Bone Muscle and Circulatory Health
Vitamin D is an essential pre-hormone that allows your body to absorb and use calcium. Increasing your vitamin D levels prevents age-related bone degeneration, muscle weakening, and circulatory issues.
- Enhanced Mood
Women of report improved mood when they take vitamin D. Research backs this up — increasing vitamin D levels have a profound effect on depression and mood stability!
You are sold on taking more Vitamin D. But what is a good Vitamin D to supplement with? And can you get it from food?
The short answer is that you cannot get sufficient levels of vitamin D from a food source. Egg yolks (assuming your chicken is raised outside) and fatty fish is the highest density of Vitamin D in food. But you’d have to eat a lot of these foods to reach anywhere near the required levels.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D. This needs to be sunlight when the sun is high enough in the sky that the UVB light gets through the atmosphere. It needs to be in the peak hours of sunlight of the day. You need dirct exposure to your skin. On average 15 – 20 minutes of exposure to 40% of your skin is usually plenty. But the darker your skin, the more time is required and the further from the equator you live the more time is also required (as the sun has to pass through more layers of the atmosphere, causing lower levels of UVB light)
So, if you can’t sit in the backyard in your bikini during your lunch break, then you might need to supplement vitamin D. Vitamin D comes in two main forms D2 and D3. D3 is the preferred type. It is readily absorbed as it was created by another animal who has converted it into the sunlight. Vitamin D2 is usually synthetic and poorly absorbed and used in the body.
The vitamin D I stock and sell in my clinic is a vitamin D3 that comes from lanolin and is suspended in olive oil. It is easy to use with a dropper and has no taste. There are no added nasties and is as natural as I can find.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Anthea Holder
(Chiropractor and Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner)