Vitamin D: Are You Deficient?
After months of feeling sluggish and dealing with achy joints, in May 2013, I sought out a well-known doctor in my area that uses an integrative medicine approach, which is a combination of traditional and alternative medicine. Not only was I told that I was over-stressed, but I found out after blood-work that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D. When I say severe, I mean severe. My levels were 18 ng/mL and from what I understand, levels above 32 ng/mL are considered adequate. My doctor however wanted my levels closer to 50 ng/mL for optimal health. No other doctor had ever tested my Vitamin D levels and I never thought that much about it because I live in Florida and I am out in the sun a lot.
What I didn’t know was that when I went outside, I used sunscreen that blocked the sun’s rays and therefore prevented me from getting the Vitamin D I needed. Also, I learned that same sunscreen contained yucky toxic chemicals (avobenzone, octyl methoxycinnamate, and oxybenzone) that were being absorbed into my skin and then circulating in my bloodstream. Furthermore, I thought the 400 IU of Vitamin D2 in my multivitamin was enough. I learned that I needed to be supplementing with Vitamin D3 and because my levels were extremely low, my doctor wanted me to take 5,000 IU daily.
I started supplementing and monitoring my levels every 3 months and I made sure to get out in the sun at least 20 minutes or so a day without sunscreen. In November 2013, my levels increased to 48 ng/mL! I definitely felt more energetic and my joints didn’t ache as much! Who knew that a vitamin could make such a difference in the way I felt? I got pregnant in December 2013 and my doctor wanted me to continue taking the 5000 IU daily because Vitamin D is very beneficial in pregnancy. In May 2015, almost 9 months postpartum, my levels were 59 ng/mL and baby is as healthy as can be. Doc said to decrease the amount I’m taking now since my levels are good, so I currently take 2,000 IU daily. I really like Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw D3 because it’s a food based vitamin that’s gluten and dairy free and contains raw probiotics and enzymes.
So just how important is Vitamin D? Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and strengthens your bones. It also helps regulate your immune system. I must say that I don’t get as many colds as I used to since increasing my levels. Deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to weak bones, various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and neurological diseases. This makes sense because the heart, blood vessels and other circulatory system components contain Vitamin D receptors so they rely on the vitamin for optimal functioning. Deficiency is very common in America, with an estimated 64% of us not having enough of the vitamin (Source).
So who’s at risk for deficiency?
- People who don’t get enough exposure to sunlight
- People with dark skin
- Those who follow strict vegan diets
- People who are overweight
- Pregnant women & newborns
- The elderly
As for the yucky sunscreen, I ditched it and researched ways on how I could make my own. I found One Good Thing By Jillee’s blog for homemade sunscreen which worked really well:
¼ cup Diaper Rash cream
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Cocoa Butter
1 TBSP Aloe Vera Gel
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tsp Beeswax
5-10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (optional) (Learn how to get this oil and some of my other favorite essential oils at wholesale prices here)
Melt all the ingredients together in a glass bowl set on top of a pot of boiling water. Allow the mixture to cool and then add it to a container (I just picked one of the travel-size squeeze bottles up at Walmart). Store your sunscreen in a cool, dry place. Slather on about 30 minutes before going outside and you’re good to go!
I barely burned with this concoction! We used it on a cruise and I actually got a nice tan! You want to get a diaper rash cream with zinc oxide in it. Also, if I’m running low on sunscreen, I slather on some coconut oil which also seems to do the trick! It doesn’t have that high of an SPF (maybe 8 or 10) but it does help in that it hydrates the skin and makes it less susceptible to burning. And since sunscreen does not allow any Vitamin D to be absorbed, I usually try to spend time outside sans sunscreen before applying.
Vitamin D deficiency is such a serious issue and the majority of people are deficient. When your levels are high, you can fight off illnesses, infections, and diseases better. Talk to your doctor about getting a 25-hydroxy-vitamin D blood test done — you’ll be glad you did!