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Vitamin D Sufficiency, Sunshine, and You
My grandma’s parents (my great-grandparents) came here from Sweden during the massive immigration era of the early 1900s.
They came over on the same boat and through Ellis Island simultaneously, and both of their families came all the way down to the middle of Kansas before they met each other.
My grandpa’s parents mainly were Scandinavian, with some German and Irish as well.
I share this fact to lead to one crucial genetic point: my body has next-to-no melanin.
My family is from an incredibly northerly-located origin, and therefore we genetically did not need to be tan at all.
As grand as this is in Scandinavia, where there is significantly less sunshine for a much more substantial part of the year (and it’s cold), this is problematic for me at lower latitudes.
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I can’t walk outside for 5 minutes without looking like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – fifteen minutes and I look like a lobster.
A day at the lake, and I have diagnosed 2nd-Degree burns (true story).
The point is that sunshine and I have some relationship issues.
So why is this a problem?
One of the most critical aspects of sunshine in our daily lives is that our body synthesizes Vitamin D using the sun’s UV rays.
It converts specific fats in our bodies called cholesterols (not the ones your doctor measures at your yearly physical) into this essential vitamin.
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins we can get for daily life, and making sure that we have enough is essential to our overall health and well-being.
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It is also one of the vitamins with the largest amount of deficiency in both the United States and the world as a whole.
An estimated 50% of the worldwide population and around 30% of the US population were vitamin D deficient as of 2010, and it was not trending in a good direction.
So why is Vitamin D important in the first place?
Why is there such a prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency? And how can we combat it to promote Vitamin D sufficiency?
Let’s address these!
Vitamin D Sufficiency: Body-Wide Benefits
So what does Vitamin D help us with?
Why do we need it?
The main focus of Vitamin D in our bodies is the regulation of calcium.
When we ingest food or nutrients, it travels through our digestive systems from our mouths to our stomachs to our intestines.
Different substances are absorbed along the way down.
For example, some electrolytes (what you get when you drink Gatorade or Powerade) are absorbed right away in our mouths.
Most substances are absorbed in the small intestines.
However, some nutrients need a little help getting absorbed and utilized correctly.
One such substance is calcium.
Calcium is an incredibly important mineral that builds up all of our bones, helps us use our muscles, and keeps our connective tissues such as skin and tendons healthy.
Calcium is absorbed in the small intestines and moves into the blood, but from there, calcium has some directional issues.
Kind of like my mother in the big city, calcium can’t always find where it’s supposed to go in the body on its own.
Think of it This Way
Vitamin D is calcium’s tour guide, directing calcium to all of the best sites in the body like the muscles, brain, and most importantly, the bones.
Issues can arise if we aren’t getting the proper amount of Vitamin D daily.
If we don’t have enough Vitamin D, calcium will just fumble about aimlessly in the bloodstream without getting to where it’s supposed to go.
There will be too many tourists and not enough guides.
This can lead to complications such as brittle-bone disease, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.
In the same way, if we are getting too much Vitamin D, there can be issues with calcium getting directed to places it isn’t necessarily supposed to be.
It’s like when guide companies hire way too many tour guides – some of them are likely to be unqualified.
They’ll take the tourists to some of the wrong places.
This is referred to as hypercalcemia, which means that there is way too much calcium in areas where it isn’t supposed to be.
Other essential functions of Vitamin D include regulating blood pressure by keeping our arteries clear of excess calcium deposits, lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and aiding the immune system.
There are also indications that Vitamin D sufficiency can help to reduce the risk of Influenza and COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Vitamin D Deficiency: Supplement, Don’t Substitute
While there are health complications that come from too much Vitamin D, most people worldwide and in the United States suffer from “deficiency” as opposed to an abundance of Vitamin D.
Why is this?
Well, there are many reasons that individuals may be at risk.
Poor diet is the biggest reason many people are Vitamin D deficient.
While sunlight helps produce some of our daily amount of Vitamin D, the diet must supply whatever is not produced.
According to a research study by Brian Diffy out of the UK, British citizens did not receive sufficient sunlight to produce their daily amount of Vitamin D during any month during the year.
It is commonly known that there is insufficient sunlight during non-summer months in locations north of the 37th parallel (San Francisco, Denver, St.Louis, etc.).
This means that diets focused on Vitamin D sufficiency are vital to healthy lives.
Other risk factors that can influence Vitamin D deficiency can be older adults, people with limited sunlight exposure, people with darker skin, and obese people.
As we age, our bodies become less effective at absorbing Vitamin D.
At the same time, our bodies need the “bone-strengthening” effects of Vitamin D and calcium significantly more.
In terms of darker skin, melanin is a substance in our body that influences the color of our skin.
The more melanin we have in our bodies, the less Vitamin D we absorb.
This is likely an adaptation resulting from the increased melanin that occurs when individuals live in places with large amounts of sunlight.
Your uncle in Florida doesn’t need his skin to be as efficient at utilizing sunlight to make Vitamin D as your grandparents in Vermont because he gets more yearly sunlight than they do.
Obesity also increases the risk of Vitamin D deficiency because Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.
It is stored in fat cells, and if there are too many fat cells, too much Vitamin D is stored and not utilized.
When evaluating Vitamin D sufficiency, the recommended % Daily Value of Vitamin D for a 2,000 calorie diet is around 600-700 IUs for most adults.
The Upper Limit or UL for adults over 19 is 4000 IUs.
The best sources are fish, which one serving will typically provide a full day’s Vitamin D.
In contrast, the most common source, milk, only provides about 1/5th of the recommended daily amount per serving.
Because of various limitations in Vitamin D absorptions depending on the population, health factors, and dietary intake, supplementation is often helpful and necessary to get the proper amount of Vitamin D in our diets.
The Smart Way to Achieve Vitamin D Sufficiency
Many supplements exist that contain Vitamin D.
Including actual Vitamin D supplements, there are also calcium supplements, multivitamins, and even some fish oil supplements that contain additional Vitamin D.
However, many if not most of these supplements contain more than the recommended Upper Limit of a daily dose of Vitamin D.
In fact, Amazon’s Choice and #1 Best Seller both have 5000 IUs of Vitamin D, more than 1000 IUs over the recommended UL.
That’s where Basis Health comes in.
Basis Health Vitamin D: Genuinely “Supplementary” Supplements
Basis Health is a nutritional supplement company that aids nutritional balance by making genuinely “supplementary” supplements to your diet instead of “substitutionary.”
Supplements are meant to make up for the gaps in our nutrition, not to replace our daily dietary needs.
The Vitamin D supplement produced by Basis Health provides 2000 IUs per serving with a maximum recommendation of 2 soft gels per day.
Therefore, even the maximum dose does not go over the recommended UL.
In addition, many supplement companies add various accessory “nutrients” and ingredients to their supplements.
In contrast, Basis Health provides only the basic and foundational nutrients and ingredients needed to live a healthy lifestyle.
The only ingredients you will find in the Vitamin D supplement are the Vitamin D itself and the ingredients for the soft gel pill, which are pretty standard.
No excessive doses of Vitamin D, not extra calcium, no extra fish oils or minerals, etc.
What you see is what you get, and in nutrition, that is often the most appropriate way to handle supplementation.
If you would like more information on the Basis Health Vitamin D supplements or information on Basis Health as a company, check out this article.
Regardless of your nutritional supplementation decisions, make sure that you are informed about your diet.
Making the best decisions in life always requires study and deliberation, and your diet should be no different.
Find out where your “nutritional gaps” are and fill them accordingly.
Doing so can help to ensure that we live long, healthy, and happy lives!