What we call vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that is essential for numerous processes in the body. It is important for utilizing calcium to build and maintain strong bones, for fight infection, enhancing the self-destruction of mutated cells, slowing the production and spread of cancer cells, and improving seizure control in epileptics. Having adequate vitamin D levels reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, preterm births, the risk of respiratory and vaginal infections and gingivitis. There are vitamin D receptors on most, if not all cells so it is likely that vitamin D is necessary for more processes than we are aware of.
Most people who don’t supplement with vitamin D are deficient in it, even those who live in sunny places like Florida and Arizona. The rule of thumb to obtain Vitamin D from the sun is to expose your face and arms to the sun for 20 minutes per day, during a time when you are taller than your shadow. It is important to have your serum vitamin D level checked at least once per year. It appears that the optimal serum vitamin D level is between 50 and 60 ng/ml. A vitamin D level above 60ng/ml may increase the risk of certain cancers.
If you supplement, consider using Vitamin D3 and in an emulsified form, as this makes it more readily usable by the body. The Fort Collins Food Coop carries several forms of Vitamin D, including an emulsified vitamin D. If you need to take more than 2000 IU per day, consider taking it in divided doses, as taking greater than 2000IU at one time has been known to cause acid reflux in some people.
By Joan D Waters, ND Practical Health Solutions, LLC Fort Collins