Most commonly referred to as vitamin D, this hormone can act as one of your biggest advocates in maintaining and improving optimum health. Its estimated that over one billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient (1). This is a problem. Not only do adequate-high levels of vitamin D improve immune function, they can also stave off weight gain, inflammation, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, cancer risk, depression, fatigue, heart disease and increased bone and muscle strength (2)(3).
Vitamin D doesn’t always cause symptoms and because the symptoms that it can cause often mimic other health concerns, it can be hard to tell if you are truly deficient without a test. Some symptoms that should prompt you to get a blood test from your doctor include:
- Frequent Colds
- Bone pain or fractures
- Foggy Thinking
- Muscle weakness
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Hair Loss
A recent study looked at how low vitamin D levels and a high fat diet can increase your likelihood of having metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is categized as having 3 of the following symptoms: high blood sugar, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides, large waist circumference (more than 40 inches for men and 35inches for women) and/or high blood pressure.
What are low levels and what can you do to improve them? Vitamin D deficiency is less than 30nmol/L and for some people less than 50nmol/L. To improve vitamin D levels, about 90% of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure and 10% comes from food. It takes about 15 minutes for a very fair-skinned person, or a couple of hours or more for a tan or dark-skinned person, to receive their daily dose of vitamin D. If you are unable to get this taking a vitamin D supplement is recommended.