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Gimme a D!

Norton Shores Michigan ChiropractorSupplementing with vitamin D can be one of the most important health habits one can have.  Most mainstream health professionals fail to recognize the importance of Vitamin D supplements.  However, vitamin D has been rigorously studied and should be on your radar.

What IS Vitamin D?First off, vitamin D really isn’t a vitamin at all.  When it was first discovered, researchers didn’t know what to call it, but knew it was essential for health, so it got labeled a “vitamin.”  Vitamin D is actually a secosteroid, a building block for hormones.  Vitamin D plays a critical role in sexual function, bone health, regulation of mood, immune function, growth, and helps to reduce chronic inflammation.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, depression and obesity, to name a few.  A recent study in the Journal of Cardiology  found that 70% of the 10,000 participants were Vitamin D deficient.  Why is this so?

First off, you need to know that Vitamin D is actually produced in the body.  The catch?  We need sunlight in order to make it.  Apparently, plants aren't the only living things that need sunlight to be healthy.  And many of us don't get enough sunlight.  Why?  Well, if you didn’t sleep through your world history class, you will know that humans are an equatorial species, meaning we spent the bulk of our existence bathed in a tropical sun.  For instance, the “cradle of civilization”  (Mesopotamia) was located in present-day Iraq.  You'll notice there aren’t too many cloudy days there.On the other hand, those of us in Muskegon, Michigan only have 75 sunny days per year and 88 partly sunny days.  So we more than half of our days with cloudy or overcast weather.  This leads to a lack of Vitamin D production in the body.  But even those who live in sunny areas like Arizona or Florida are at risk because most Americans spend the majority of their time indoors.Fortunately, Vitamin D can be taken orally and will work just as well as what we make in the body.  However, Vitamin D is difficult to get through the diet.  Eggs and oily fish are the best sources, although trace amounts can be found in some vegetables.  Eating these foods will not raise your Vitamin D levels much, unfortunately.  And do not rely on fortified foods (cereals, grains, milk, etc.) because they offer just enough D to avoid rickets, but not enough for optimal function in the body (they also use the lesser of the two forms of D, which I’ll get into later).In a nutshell, if you want to maintain good Vitamin D levels, you either need to move to California and change careers (lifeguard, beach volleyball player, or landscaper would do) or you need to supplement.

What Type of Supplement?

There are two forms of Vitamin D to choose from, D-2 and D-3.  D-2 is cheaper and more available. It is found in Lucky Charms as well as the vitamin department at Wal Mart.  It is not absorbed well in the body which means that you are putting more in your toilet than in your system.

You should supplement with a liquid form of Vitamin D-3.  I use Vitamin D-3 drops because they are quick and easy.  Here is the brand I use.  Since Vitamin D-3 is a fat soluble vitamin, it should be accompanied with some fat for better absorption.  I just take it with my daily fish oil supplements.  In the winter, I supplement with 4,000 IUs per day to keep my levels good.  During the spring and summer months, I supplement depending on my activities.  I supplement on work days since I’m stuck inside adjusting patients (or writing blog posts :-)).  However, when the weekend comes and I’m planning on hitting the West Michigan beaches, I skip those days.

If you are unsure as to whether or not you need to supplement with Vitamin D, you can order a simple blood test in your doctor’s office.  If you are deficient, get some sun or get some Vitamin D drops.  Your body will thank you.

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