Vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. This key vitamin is called the “sunshine vitamin” and is critical for energy, blood sugar health, emotional well-being and immune system support. Deficiencies are common and supplementation is recommended, especially during the winter months. Sunlight is a natural way to receive vitamin D. You have to be vigilant of your own vitamin D needs and ability to absorb. Ask your doctor to test your blood level to make sure you get what you need.
If you’re concerned with keeping track of your vitamin D levels, here are some things you should consider:
- Sunscreen – It’s promoted as the healthy way to prevent aging, sunburns and skin cancer. It does help in many ways, but can also increase some risk for cancer, as it heavily blocks against vitamin D. Sunscreen is made to block UVB rays (the vitamin D- producing ones). It’s wise to give your skin some exposure to soak up rays (15-20 minutes) and then cover up with organic sunscreen.
- Your weight– The more body fat you have the more storage space there is for vitamin D. Obesity often correlates with lower vitamin D levels and many believe that extra weight puts you at a greater risk for deficiency.
- Your skin color – Melanin is what gives our skin pigment. This substance fights for UVB to produce vitamin D. You’re more likely to have a deficiency in vitamin D if you have darker skin.
- Air quality– Those of us living in a more urban, polluted environment are at a greater risk for vitamin D deficiency due to pollution in the air. And, particles in the air such as fossil fuels, wood and other materials absorb the UVB we need
- Season/location– The farther away we are from the equator, the less vitamin D we’ll be receiving, especially during the winter. No matter our distance, supplementation is often needed to maintain healthy levels. In the winter, we’re bundling up (covering all of our skin) and getting less sun exposure, so it makes sense we’ll need more.
Before you decide how to go about supplementing and what amount to use, get your blood levels checked by your doctor. The recommended healthy level from The Vitamin D Council is 40-80 ng/mL.