Did you know that experts believe up to 77% of Americans could be deficient in vitamin D? Since D is a vitally important vitamin—it has been shown to affect about 3,000 genes in the human body, and is linked to the prevention of many diseases—getting enough D is something everyone should make a priority.
Why are we deficient?
Even though it is one of the few vitamins our bodies can produce, we are often deficient because the only way to stimulate D production is through exposure to sunlight. Back when most people worked outside all day long, that was easy. But now, we tend to spend the majority of our time indoors. And since we’re aware that sun exposure can cause skin cancer, we slather on sunscreen every time we’re in the sun. That’s a good thing, but it means that we can’t possibly get enough direct sunlight to produce enough vitamin D. You would need at least 15 minutes in full sun a day, without sunscreen and with most of your body exposed, to produce an adequate amount. And in the winter, with the sun much weaker, even that wouldn’t produce enough D in most states. If you have dark skin, it’s even harder to produce D—melanin reduces D production by up to 90 percent. People who follow a vegan diet also are at risk for low D levels, as D is found mainly in animal-based sources such as fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk.
How much do we need?
Since D is not common in most foods, you generally don’t get enough through your diet. This means that D is a vitamin that doctors recommend taking in a supplement. An ideal form is D3, which is what our bodies make. In 2010, the recommended daily allowance for adults aged 1-70 was raised to 600 IU (800 for those over 70), and some doctors believe it should be even higher. Our Movita multi-vitamin has 800 IU.
What are the health benefits of vitamin D?
While a severe D deficiency can cause rickets, it’s more common in America to have a mild to moderate deficiency. A serious D deficiency can cause symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness; a mild to moderate lack of D can lead to health problems such as depression, cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children, cognitive impairment in older adults (who are more at risk because, while they need more D, they are less likely to spend time outside), and possibly cancer. It affects cell death and proliferation, insulin production, and the immune system. Research indicates that D can play a role in preventing and treating diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and multiple sclerosis. Since Vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, it also helps foster bone strength. One study showed that adequate D levels played a role in preventing stress fractures in preadolescent and adolescent girls, especially those involved in high-impact activities.
How to make sure you get enough D?
You can find out your D levels through a simple blood test. If your levels are low, your doctor will recommend the right amount of D to bring them back up to optimum levels. In the meantime, protect your health by taking a high quality supplement that contains D3, such as Movita, which is made with organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It’s also gluten-free, dairy and egg-free, and allergen-free for shellfish and nuts.