This week we were all reminded that fall is right around the corner, and with fall comes shorter days which means less time to absorb the suns UV rays as a way to prop up our vitamin D stores.  Vitamin D plays much larger role than just bone health.  Protection against diabetes, heart disease, numerous cancers, and autoimmune issues are all improved with proper vitamin D stores.  But how much is Proper? Well, The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamin D is 400-800IU”s.  This recommendation is barely enough to prevent rickets. If your heath and fitness aspirations lie north of walking knock-kneed then a little education on vitamin D may be useful.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is present in very few modern day foods.  We can receive  vitamin D from foods fortified with D, as well as from vitamin D synthesis from the sun”s UV rays.  Most people know that Vitamin D (VD) is important in maintaining healthy bones, however, our stores of VD have a profound effect on a number of areas pertaining to health and longevity.  The prevention of certain cancers, the regulation of immune function, cardiovascular health, and insulin sensitivity are all effected by chronically low VD stores.  Below are some guidlines related to  VD concentrations:

<12 ng/ml assasiated with VD deficiency leading to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults

12-20  Generally considered inadequite for bone and overall health in individuals

>20 Generally considered adequite for bone health

>60  Generally though to present upper limit although individuals supplementing with 100,000IU”s of VD failed to develop any upper limit toxisity

All of us get at least some of our VD from exposure to the sun.  However, season, time of day, skin melanin content, and sunscreen all efect the amount that our bodies obsorb through the synthesis of the suns rays.  However, a half hour exposure during mid day to 25% of the body can produce as much VD as 4000IU of VD.

Some things that can effect lead to VD deficiencies:

1.  People with limited exposure to the sun.

2.  People with dark skin.  Greater skin pigment reduces the skins ability to produce vitamin D from sun light.  For these folks studies are showing that they need on average 6x”s the sun exposure to synthesis the same amount of D3.  This may lead to lower VD stores and may have links to certain cancers.

3.  People with autoimmune issues.  The malabsorption associated with leaky gut syndrome can effect people with a variety of aliments (cystic fibrosis, crohn”s disease) which can limit the amount of usable VD.

What Brand/type of Vitamin D3 should I take?

The good news is that even with the diminishing light of fall it is easy to bump up your Vitamin D stores in a cheap and easy way.  A good high quality D3 supplement will cost in the neighborhood of just 7 cents per day!  I personally like Now Foods D3 (here) it is a small gel cap packaged with olive oil which ensures that your body is absorbing the contents to the best of your bodies ability. A good baseline dosage going into winter would be to take 5000IU”s of D3 perday (I personally take 10,000IU”s based on my darker skin)  However, the only way to know for certain what your proper dose is is to take a complete blood panel.