Vitamin D deficiency is common worldwide, even in sunny countries! In Spain, it is estimated that one third of the population may be deficient in vitamin D (1). In the UK, studies have shown a significant number of people with low vitamin D levels in their blood.
Just like plants need sunlight to grow, so it is true with humans for better health and wellbeing.
At least 75% of our vitamin D is produced in the liver via the conversion of sunlight. There are some foods that contain a fair amount of vitamin D, but most foods contain very little unless the vitamin has been added.
Rickets, a condition that affects bone development in children, causing the bones to grow weak, soft and a tendency towards deformities was eradicated in the Western World during the early 20th century by fortifying foods with vitamin D.
When I visited Iceland, I was told that all residents were recommended to take vitamin D by their physicians and health practitioners, due to the fact that you don't see the sun at all for 3 months and one can quite easily become depressed.
Read on to understand the importance of vitamin D, what the deficiency symptoms are and how to balance your vitamin D levels naturally.
In the truest sense of the form, vitamin D acts more like a hormone and is not a vitamin at all, as the body is capable of producing it in the liver. It is then stored in the liver and fatty tissues of the body.
Cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol) in the human skin synthesises vitamin D from being exposed to UV light from the sun.
We need vitamin D for many different functions in our body:
The normal range of vitamin D is between 20 and 40 ng/ml, although this number can vary a bit.
Group studies show that pregnant women and babies are most at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Studies have linked low vitamin D levels to a number of health issues (2):
How can you balance your vitamin D levels?
Exposure to sunlight is the best and most effective method to have adequate vitamin D levels.
Being exposed to the sun daily for 10- 15 minutes without sunscreen is recommended for fair-to-medium skin.
If you are darker toned skin, you may need to spend at least 40 minutes in the sun to get adequate exposure.
In the winter, when the sun is less potent, double the time may be needed.
The main food sources containing vitamin D are animal products, such as cod liver oil, mackerel, swordfish, sardines, tuna, beef liver, caviar and fortified cows milk.
If you're vegan, the best way to obtain vitamin D is through mushrooms and nut milks, such as oat milk fortified with vitamin D.
If you would like to add extra supplementation, this vegan vitamin D3 from Viridian on Naturitas.es is in liquid form and only 0,5ml a day is needed. Other ingredients contain sunflower seed oil and oil of orange - nothing else!
Yes, and there have been increasing reports of vitamin D overdose and poisoning. This can be due to the over-fortification of milk or prolonged use of vitamin D supplements.
In one case, a 62 year old man was hospitalised with a neurologic disorder and kidney failure. The patient reported that he had been on a slow-release multivitamin containing Vitamin D and Vitamin A prescribed by his physician (4). His blood levels had excess calcium (Hypercalcemia), a condition that can weaken bones, create kidney stones and create interferences in the functioning of the heart and brain.
Some symptoms of too much vitamin D include:
You can find out how what your vitamin D levels are like by having a blood test.
You can also get tested in your kinesiology session, where we can additionally test for other deficiencies, or if there is too much of a mineral or vitamin. Since the liver and the kidneys play a role in vitamin D, these organs can be strengthened and restored in the session, addressing any imbalances from a holistic point of view.