When it comes to something so personal and unique as your health, the volume of information out there can be a lot to sift through. Enjoy this FAQ cheat sheet we made for vitamin D – are there others you’d like us to cover? Leave suggestions in the comments!
Your Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Understanding Vitamin D
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that controls the expression of over 1,000 genes in the body. This means that vitamin D is controlling over 1,000 different physiological processes!
How is vitamin D created?
There are two ways to produce vitamin D:
- You can create it by exposing unprotected skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight
- You can create it by eating foods high in vitamin D to absorb them into the intestines
How much vitamin D does my body need?
You’re aiming for a specific range when it comes to optimal health. Vitamin D insufficiency is often reported as <30 ng/ml and deficiency as <20 ng/ml. Here is that level represented in a WellnessFX personal dashboard, which easily shows you the reference ranges. A quick glance tells you exactly where you stand and whether you’re in or out of optimal range.
Did you know that about 70% of the population has low levels of vitamin D, though most don’t realize it?
What are some causes and effects of low vitamin D levels?
Certain people are at higher risk for having low vitamin D levels, or vitamin D deficiency, due to a number of factors, ranging from how much sun exposure you actually get, to how efficiently your body processes that exposure into vitamin D.
Research has linked lower levels of vitamin D to a variety of health issues, including decreased bone strength, Prostate cancer, increased inflammation, heart disease, dementia, increased blood pressure, and depression.
What are the causes and effects of high vitamin D levels?
Though your body needs vitamin D for basic function, there is the possibility of having too much vitamin D, which can actually reverse the beneficial effects and be detrimental to one’s health.
The optimal intake level is called a “set point,” which is different for everyone.
You can actually experiment to find your own vitamin D “set point” with periodic testing of the hs-CRP inflammation marker using varying levels of vitamin D supplementation.
How can I find my vitamin D levels?
The only accurate way to find out if you have low vitamin D is to get a blood test.
If you are looking to optimize your levels, there are several simple ways to increase your vitamin D to a healthy level.
- Action 1: Test your levels regularly. Your blood cells regenerate every 120 days, so we recommend an assessment via a biomarker testing, and then re-assessment every 4-6 months, after instituting new habits, in order to have an accurate picture of where your vitamin D / hs-CRP levels (and total health) are.
- Action 2: Adjust your (outdoor) habits. You can create vitamin D through exposing unprotected skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays of sunlight – this could be just 15 minutes for a very fair skinned person, but a couple of hours or more for a dark-skinned person
- Action 3: Adjust your diet. You can eat foods high in vitamin D to absorb them into the intestines. Think eggs, and fatty fish such as sockeye salmon, mackerel, sardines, and grass-fed, fortified dairies, such as milk and yogurt. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is best absorbed when eaten with fat-containing foods.
- Action 4: Adjust with supplements. Many people can not get enough vitamin D on a regular basis from food sources alone though, so another option is to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. As far as supplementation goes, the National Institute of Medicine (NIM) recommends the tolerable upper intake for adults at 4,000 IU.
If your health is at risk from low/too high vitamin D, you should talk with your doctor about how you can best optimize your levels. A consultation with a WellnessFX practitioner can also provide you with a customized, actionable plan based on your health profile.
How WellnessFX Can Help
We believe in the power in a drop of blood. Regularly testing your biomarkers will give you an accurate assessment of where you are now while starting the process of regularly monitoring your vitamin D levels to see how much you might need to improve. Our Baseline panel includes a test for vitamin D in addition to advanced cardiovascular and lipid panels, liver and kidney health, inflammation, and more.
If you’re just looking to test your vitamin D levels, this is our stand-alone package ($60) for that.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.