Are You Low on Vitamin D?
By Kate Gardner
Like a lot of people, I have low Vitamin D. I'm in good company: 41.6 percent of Americans have low Vitamin D levels, according to researchers in the journal Nutrition Research. Low Vitamin D levels have been linked to a wide variety of health problems and many doctors describe our current situation as a widespread health epidemic with far-reaching implications.
The Vitamin D Council is a great resource to start with if you want to learn about Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for building strong bones and is used to prevent the bone disease, rickets. Vitamin D is a hot research topic right now and doctors are looking into how Vitamin D levels affect everything from heart health to cancer survival. Your body makes its own Vitamin D when you are exposed to the sun.
Vitamin D levels are measured with a blood test called the 25(OH) D test. Here in the United States, your results will be reported as ng/mL; for example, your results might be 25 ng/mL. Most organizations agree that Vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL are too low. The Vitamin D Council provides the following criteria:
- Less than 30 ng/mL is deficient
- 30 to 39 ng/mL is insufficient
- 40 to 80 ng/mL is optimal
- Above 150 ng/mL is toxic
Low Vitamin D Levels
If your body makes its own Vitamin D, why are so many people suffering from low levels? There are a number of reasons people aren't making enough Vitamin D on their own.
Sun protection - Experts think that our sun-protection habits may be partially to blame. Slathering on sunscreen and covering up with sun-blocking clothes keeps our body from making Vitamin D.
Melanin - The more melanin you have, the darker your skin. If you have darker skin, you'll need more sun exposure to make enough Vitamin D.
Time of year - It's harder to get enough sun exposure during colder months.
Location - Where you live and how much sun it gets can affect your body's ability to make Vitamin D. For example, if you live farther north (above the 35th parallel) it is harder to make enough Vitamin D.
If your Vitamin D levels are low, you may experience a number of symptoms that tip you off, or you may not experience any! These symptoms can include brittle nails, tiredness, and general achiness. If you think your Vitamin D levels may be low, ask your healthcare provider for a test. They can also advise you on how much Vitamin D you should take.
To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Dacula, Ga.