With the bitter-cold weather upon us, you may be feeling the need for some sunshine and your body may be feeling that same need. Many people run low on vitamin D during the dark, colder months of the year, as we stay indoors exposed to fewer of those vitamin D-producing rays from the sun. And, if you’re active outdoors during the winter months, you’re usually bundled up, effectively blocking what little sun you’re exposed to.
Our partners at Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers along with Dr. Paulo Aranas, a family medicine physician at the Morris Hospital Ottawa Campus, provide insightful details on this essential vitamin.
“A lot of people know that vitamin D plays a big role in working with calcium to give you strong, healthy bones,” Dr. Aranas said. “However, studies coming out also suggest that vitamin D provides benefits to your immune system and cardiovascular system, as well.”
Dr. Aranas said anecdotal studies suggest vitamin D might also increase cognition in older adults.
Additionally, vitamin D also plays a big role in your mental health, with 20 percent of Americans suffering from fatigue and depression each winter as a result of low vitamin D levels. So, how much vitamin D do you need? Between ages one through 70, the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 International Units (IU). Those over the age of 70 should get at least 800 IU of vitamin D each day.
Another source of vitamin D is through foods, which include fatty fishes such as swordfish and salmon. Swordfish has approximately 566 IU and salmon has approximately 477 IU in three ounces. As an alternative, Cod liver oil is an especially rich source, containing 1,360 IU per tablespoon.
While there are many contributing factors to low vitamin D, you may be at a higher risk if you have dark skin, are obese, spend excess time indoors, take certain medications, had gastric bypass surgery, have kidney or liver disease or a condition that limits absorption by the intestines.
If you’re looking to take supplements to help with vitamin D deficiency, be sure to not overdo it. Too much of this fat-soluble vitamin can cause nausea, vomiting, itching, weakness, confusion and many other side effects.
According to Dr. Aranas, signs of vitamin D deficiency include persistent joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue. A simple blood test at your doctor’s office can test your vitamin D level.
If you’d like to get your vitamin D level tested, a blood test is available through Morris Hospital’s Wellness Wednesday screenings for $50. Easy to understand test results will be provided within one week. For more information or to schedule a blood test, visit www.morrishospital.org or call (815) 416-6089.
To learn more about vitamin D deficiency, read this informative article, courtesy of Healthline.com.