Naturopathic provider Jacob Wolf, ND, LAc, Dipl OM, explains the importance of vitamin D.
Vitamin D: not only is it powerful, it’s vital for good health. Although it’s called a vitamin, D is actually a steroid hormone that acts as a catalyst for processes that protect our cells.
Every tissue in the body needs vitamin D, yet a large percentage of the world’s population is deficient, or borderline deficient, in this critical hormone. Even a mild deficiency can contribute to chronic and autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer (including ovarian, colon and breast), multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.
Nature intended for us to get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but absorption is blocked by protective sunscreen. We need bare-skin sun exposure for 15-20 minutes a day to get the recommended exposure and most of us don’t get that. Additionally, we don’t eat enough D-rich foods, which include egg yolk, cod liver oil, shiitake mushrooms and wild salmon. Fortified milk/dairy is not the best source because you need several cups every day and for anyone intolerant of dairy products, this food category is off limits.
The best way to help the body establish optimal levels of vitamin D is to take a supplement as recommended by your provider.
The recommended blood level of vitamin D (above 25 nmol/L) was established to protect people from bone disease. From the natural medicine perspective (and emerging scientific data), that threshold is too low to protect against serious illness or to promote optimal health. Depending on the individual, holistic physicians identify 45-90 nmol/L as the ideal vitamin D blood level for disease prevention. It is critically important to supplement with Vitamin D3. A different form, Vitamin D2, is commonly given as a prescription but is not very useful for humans and likely will not improve your levels.
Age, gender, diet, stress level and lifestyle factors affect absorption of vitamin D. A naturopathic provider can evaluate levels before starting a supplement to help ensure you take the appropriate amount and form of vitamin D. Follow-up testing tracks improvement in your vitamin D levels and health condition. Your health care provider can then adjust your supplement dose accordingly.