Staying healthy during the winter is more difficult this time of year. That’s because vitamin D, arguably the most important nutrient for a balanced immune system, is more difficult to obtain. The body’s preferred source of vitamin D, UV rays from the sun, is in short supply in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year. And for most people in America, come wintertime, the sun’s UV rays are too weak to properly interact with the protein in your skin (7-DHC) that converts UVB rays into the active form of vitamin D, vitamin D3.
And if there ever was a winter that you want to maintain optimal vitamin D levels it’s 2020. There have been quite a few studies (like this one) that show that people who have been stricken with severe COVID symptoms are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency.
Are You Vitamin D Deficient?
So how do you know if you’re vitamin D deficient in the first place? Are there obvious signs as there is with adrenal fatigue or gut dysbiosis? Although there are a few symptoms such as fatigue, cramps, and depression, these signs are not unique to vitamin D deficiency; they could be indicative of several other ailments or disease states.
The best way to know for sure is to get tested. But these days, who wants to visit a doctor’s office just for a blood test? To be sure, you shouldn’t be putting off any necessary medical procedures; health clinics and medical centers are not high-risk Covid-spreading locations. However, if you’d rather not go that route, you can purchase an at-home test. Do a search for ‘home test 25-hydroxy vitamin D.’ The cost is approximately $75 – $100.
Do Vitamin D Supplements Work?
If you live in Bangor, Maine and you’re not going to see many sunny days this winter where the sun’s UV index is 3 or greater, then taking a supplement is a good idea. Although, to be sure, your body was designed to make vitamin D, rather than taking it.
One thing you can do to mimic the sun’s UV rays and have your body synthesize vitamin D is purchasing either a UV lamp or a tanning bed for your home. If skin cancer immediately comes to mind when you think of tanning bed, fair enough. But thousands of people safely use tanning beds every year without developing skin cancer. The key is to not burn your skin. That’s the same logic that applies during the summer when you’re lounging by the pool or at the beach.
But if tanning beds and artificial sunlight isn’t your thing, there is one thing you can do to get enough vitamin D without relying on supplements…
Eating Foods With Vitamin D
Recently on the Sun Horse Energy blog, we discussed why edible mushrooms such as Reishi are one of the best types of food for immune support. Mushrooms are adaptogenic, which means they help normalize your body after it’s been bombarded by stress of any kind. Another reason to include mushrooms in your diet is they are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D.
So, too, are salmon, tuna, mackerel, liver (beef, chicken, etc.) and fish liver oils. There are relatively few foods that are excellent sources of vitamin D. Furthermore, dietary vitamin D is in the form of D2. The active vitamin D that’s found in your bloodstream that not only supports immune function but also regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood; promotes healthy bone matrix formation and assists in mineral absorption, is in the form of D3. Vitamin D3 is widely considered more bioavailable than vitamin D2.
Reasons To Take A Vitamin D Supplement
Let’s review. In most of the U.S., the sun’s UV rays are too weak for your skin to synthesize vitamin D. And unless you’re eating a ton of mushrooms and cold-water oily fish, you may not be getting enough vitamin D. Even if you are eating lots of D-rich foods, your blood levels of vit. D may be suboptimal anyways. The only way to know for sure is to get a blood test.
And if the test reveals that you are indeed D deficient, then you should take a supplement. Ideally, your blood levels of D should be 100 – 150 nmol/L. To get to that level, you may need to take a greater amount than what the federal government’s daily value suggests, which is 400 – 800 IUs. The upper limit of safe vitamin D3 daily intake is 10,000 IUs but many healthy experts recommend 4,000 IUs.
Besides the risk of developing severe Covid symptoms, being deficient in vitamin D puts you at higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and atherosclerosis. Another reason to make sure your vitamin D levels are optimal is that the nutrient may help prevent depression.
Is Vitamin D An Adaptogen?
No. Adaptogens are herbs, not nutrients. But beyond that difference, the main reason why vitamin D is not considered an adaptogen is that when taken at very high doses, it can be toxic. To be classified as an adaptogen, a herb must be non-toxic and safe for everybody to take. Although vitamin D deficiency is pervasive in North America (approximately 35% of people, and up to 60% in elderly communities), and therefore should be consumed either from food and/or supplements, taking too much of it can result in bone pain, nausea, vomiting, and kidney problems.
But for most people, getting too much vitamin D isn’t the problem. In staying healthy during the pandemic, manage your stress levels with the best adaptogenic herbal formulas on Earth, and make sure your vitamin D3 levels are at an optimal level.