What is Vitamin D?
If you live in a colder climate that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight or you tend to get sick a lot, you’ve probably considered adding some supplemental vitamin D to your diet, and that’s definitely a smart move! In fact, it’s estimated that almost half of the US population is deficient in vitamin D, meaning that more than 2 in every 5 people aren’t getting the vitamin D they need to support optimal health.
Vitamin D is a critical vitamin that plays a few key roles in our bodies and our health – most notably, it supports healthy bones and keeps our immune system in tip-top shape. While some foods contain vitamin D, like fatty fish and egg yolks, the biggest source of vitamin D for our bodies is the sun, because the sun prompts our body to produce vitamin D naturally.
There are three main forms in the vitamin D family (D1, D2, and D3), but D2 and D3 are the ones most commonly found on supplement shelves in the pharmacy. The major difference is that D2 is made from plants and D3 is the form naturally found in the human body and some animal foods.
While vitamin D deficiency is so prevalent in US adults, many people may not even realize they are lacking vitamin D, which can lead to some negative side effects.
How do I know when I need vitamin D?
What’s difficult about vitamin D (and really all vitamin) deficiencies is that the symptoms are not unique to lacking vitamin D and are often confused for another problem.
Some common signs that you may be experiencing a vitamin D deficiency are:
- Poor sleep
- Bone pain
- Sadness or depression
- Hair loss
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Getting sick more often
In order to determine if you need to be taking a vitamin D supplement to fill in the gaps left by your body, a blood and genetic test should be your first step, because that’s the only way to really know the cause of your symptoms and if a lack of vitamin D is the culprit. A blood test can test vitamin levels in real time and compare them against a standard level to identify a deficiency, whereas a genetic test, like the one we offer at 10X Health, can tell you if your genes are preventing your body from producing or properly leveraging vitamin D.
Benefits of vitamin D supplements
If you’re like 41% of the population and are suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, supplements can be a great way to boost vitamin D levels in your body and reap some of the benefits that vitamin D provides to your body, like:
Boosted immune system: Vitamin D plays an important role in helping your immune system to fight off disease and sickness, so, when deficient, you may get sick more often or have more severe sickness when you do catch a cold or the flu.
Stronger bones and teeth: Arguably the most important role vitamin D plays in our health is in supporting strong and healthy bones and teeth. It does this by regulating calcium and phosphorus absorption, two crucial nutrients in the skeletal system.
Improved energy levels and mood: Although the benefit may not be as noticeable as the benefits to bone and immune health, vitamin D may be helpful for those suffering from mood-induced fatigue, depressed mood, and sometimes seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Vitamin D plays an important role in our health and our bodies, and when we don’t produce enough of it, either from our environment or genetics, it can cause some short and long term negative effects, like increased risk of broken bones or severe illness.
If you think you may be suffering the effects of a vitamin D deficiency and want to see if supplementation could help, contact the team at 10X Health to schedule comprehensive blood and genetic tests and get yourself on the path to better health.