The Thursday edition, November 10, 2016, of the Reporter Herald ran an AP article stating that vitamin D deficiency is overstated and doesn’t deserve to be a concern of the majority of people.
I believe the article does a disservice to readers. While it is true that only 6% of people have a frank deficiency of vitamin D, many more have an insufficiency. The NHANES study showed 70 % of children age six to eleven had insufficient levels and The International Society for Clinical Densitometry says 95% of the elderly have insufficient levels. Vitamin D plays many important roles in the body. It protects us from prostate, breast, and colon cancers, diabetes, hypertension, and depression. It supports healthy immune function and bone health and can help prevent falls in older people. With so many important functions, avoiding a frank deficiency isn’t good enough. We want to have optimal levels of vitamin D. I wrote an article in May about the importance of vitamin D levels. You can read it for more in depth information.
As a functional nutritionist, I recommend to my clients that they keep their levels between 50 ng/mL and 80 ng/mL for optimal health.
There are many factors affecting a person’s vitamin D status, sun exposure, dietary intake, and age. Beyond these obvious factors, we must take into consideration someone’s genetics. There are a few genes governing how well our bodies absorb and use this important vitamin. You may have to supplement with somewhat large doses of vitamin D daily to maintain an optimal level. Having a genetic profile test done paves the way for a personalized approach to your health.
While insurance companies may not want to cover the cost of testing or your doctor may not want to include testing in an annual physical, I recommend individuals take responsibility for their own health by getting tested once or twice a year. There are several local labs that conduct this simple test. If you don’t test, you don’t know.
Optimizing your vitamin D starts, of course, with food. Be sure to include cold water fish such as salmon, or tuna. Other tasty sources are cheeses and eggs. For the adventurous, try eating beef liver. It’s loaded with vitamin D.
To your health,
Kristy Hall, MS, ROHP, RNCP
Living Well Nutrition, LLC