During the winter months one of the supplements that I recommend that my patients take is vitamin D. The reason is that the best way to maintain healthy D levels is through skin exposure to the sun.(At least 10-15 minutes each day). And unless you live in Florida during the winter months your levels are most probably low. A recent study led by University of Kentucky researchers suggests that a diet low in vitamin D causes damage to the brain. Besides being important for maintaining bone health, new evidence shows that vitamin D serves important roles in other organs and tissue, including the brain. Low levels of Vitamin D have been previously associated with Alzeimer's disease, and it has also been linked to the development of certain types of cancer and heart disease.
The first step in finding out if you D levels are low is to get a blood test which can be ordered by your primary care doctor or your chiropractor. This test will let you know if you need to take a supplement. When it comes to Vitamin D there are basically two types, D2 (Ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). The D2 form is found in plants and D3 is animal based. (Fish, egg yolks, fortified milk, fortified cereals). The type your body makes during sunlight exposure is D3 and it is the type that I reccomend to my patients for several reasons. According to the latest research D3 has been found to be 87 percent more potent at increasing and maintaining Vitamin D levels, D3 produces 2-3 times greater storage of Vitamin D that does D2, whichever form of Vitamin D you take your body must convert it into a more active form and D3 is converted 500 times faster than D2. So what is considered an optimal level:
|Definition of Vitamin D Status||25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels|
|Low||Less than 20 ng/mL|
|Low-normal||Between 21–40 ng/mL|
|Normal||Between 41–80 ng/mL|
|High-normal||Between 81–100 ng/mL|
|Excess||More than 100 ng/mL|
So if your levels are determined to be low you should eat foods rich in vitamin D, get adequate sun exposure (tough in the winter months), and supplement with a quality D3 product. How much D3 you take depends on a few things including your starting levels, age and weight, but overall I recommend 1000-2000 ius a day. The best way to determine what exact amount you need to take is to start with this dosage and have your levels checked again in about 6 months and increase if neccessary. By doing this you can find the optimal level for you. And remember that Vitamin D is stored in your fat so it's possible to take too much.
People with low levels are sometimes given a prescription form of D2 called Drisdol (ergocalciferol) which is 50,000 ius. The patient typically takes this amount two or three times per week for several months and their levels are rechecked often. Drisdol can be expensive at around 75-100 dollars for 50 capsules and has a whole host of potential side effects, whereas D3 can be bought safely over the counter in strengths up to 10,000 ius and is much less expensive. So when it warms up, (it has to warm up sometime) get outside, work in your garden (yes you should have a garden), get your levels checked and supplement if needed. If you have any questions or comments regarding this post you can reach Dr. Crowley through the contact page at www.alexandriachirocenter.com or call Alexandria Chiropractic Center at 859-635-6666.