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Supplement Friends: Vitamin D

Embrace the Sun and Boost Your Health: Let's talk about the importance of Vitamin D!

Do you remember being told to "go play outside and get some vitamin D" when you were a child? It’s a common piece of advice many of us heard growing up. As parents, we often find ourselves repeating this recommendation to our children. But why is vitamin D so important, and how can we ensure we’re getting enough of it?

When our skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from the sun, it kick starts a fascinating process. Our skin converts a chemical into calciferol, an active form of vitamin D. However, this process isn’t always smooth sailing. Factors like cloud cover, smog, old age, and having darker skin can all reduce the amount of vitamin D our skin produces, leading to lower levels in our blood. And while sunscreen is essential for protecting our skin from harmful UV rays, it can also limit vitamin D production. Health experts recommend using sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher when spending more than a few minutes in the sun. It's also worth noting that most windows provide UV protection, which means indoor sunlight will not be enough to boost your vitamin D levels.

By the end of summer, about 21% of people experience vitamin D deficiency, and this number jumps to nearly half of the population by mid-winter. That’s a significant portion of us not getting enough of this crucial nutrient!

Very low levels of vitamin D can lead to serious health issues like rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. A common, yet often overlooked, symptom of vitamin D deficiency is nonspecific musculoskeletal pain. But the impact doesn’t stop there. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a variety of conditions, including muscle weakness, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer!

For most people with moderately low vitamin D levels, there might not be any noticeable symptoms. However, low concentrations are typically associated with a compensatory rise in parathyroid hormone, a condition known as secondary hyperparathyroidism. This can result in problems like impaired calcium absorption, negative calcium balance, and increased bone resorption.

Apart from its role in physical health, vitamin D also plays a crucial role in mental and emotional well-being. Research suggests that vitamin D may have a significant impact on mood regulation and may help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increased risk of developing mood disorders and may contribute to symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, usually during the winter months when sunlight exposure is limited.

So, who should consider getting their vitamin D levels checked? Here are some key groups who might benefit from screening:

- African American and Hispanic children and adults

- Pregnant and lactating women

- Older adults with a history of falls or chronic disease

- Obese children and adults

- People diagnosed with conditions such as osteoporosis, osteomalacia, rickets, chronic kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, hepatic failure, inflammatory bowel or Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, pancreatic insufficiency, or those who have had a gastrectomy or bariatric surgery.

Assessing your vitamin D levels is a straightforward process. It involves a simple blood draw from the arm. Some labs, like Quest Diagnostics, even offer vitamin D testing without needing to see a physician. At Family Tree Midwifery, we provide vitamin D screening for just $49 at our Orangevale office. Feel free to send us a message to set up an appointment!

Boosting your vitamin D levels can be done through direct exposure to sunlight and consuming certain foods that contain small amounts of the nutrient. Here are some vitamin D-rich foods to consider:

- Oily fish like salmon and sardines

- Red meat

- Liver

- Egg yolks

- Fortified milk and cereals

Vitamin D supplements are also a fantastic option, especially for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies, fat absorption issues, darker skin tones, or those in the at-risk groups mentioned earlier. Supplements come in both pill and liquid forms, making them a versatile addition to your daily routine.

At Family Tree Midwifery, we offer an immediate 10% discount on quality vitamin D supplements through our Fullscript storefront. These supplements are hand-selected by our midwife and are safe for pregnant and nursing friends. Anyone can sign up and take advantage of our discounts by following this link:

Remember, ensuring you and your family get enough vitamin D is not just about health; it’s about embracing the sunshine and all the benefits it brings. Consider if screening and supplementation is a good fit for you. Next time the sun is shining, take a moment to step outside and soak it up. Your body and mind will thank you!

Happy Sun Soaking!

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