Vitamin D3, Deficiency, What We Know, and Recommendations

poole-joseph004Vitamin D is an important nutrient that should be evaluated and maintained in each adult patient. Because Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin, it is technically a hormone, and because hormone deficiencies disrupt homeostasis, overlooking this vitamin can have unintended consequences including prostate and colorectal cancer, metabolic syndrome and prediabetes (Bender, 2017). The protective benefits of a normal Vitamin D also include respiratory protection and all-cause mortality benefits (Wimalawansa, 2016).

 

The Sun and Vitamin D
The safest way to administer Vitamin D is through the sun. The recommended duration of sunlight in Western countries is 15 minutes a day. Lighter skin individuals have been associated with better Vitamin D status due to sunlight exposure. That said, skin color is no determinant of Vitamin D status and other factors excluding genetics include age, clothing, personal behavior, latitude, season, time of day, ozone levels, and cloud cover (Nasser et. al, 2016).
Deficiency of this vitamin, can lead to rickets in children and decrease in bone density in adults, and continues to be a problem in northern latitudes, where sunlight exposure is inadequate (Bender, 2017).

 

In summary, while sunlight used to be the main source in receiving adequate Vitamin D, it is clear that sun exposure alone isn’t providing the necessary supplementation for the majority of people, thus dietary supplementation is sometimes needed.

 

Calcium Homeostasis
Historically, Vitamin D has been known as the controller of calcium balance. By absorbing adequate amounts of calcium, our bodies maintain good bone strength and proper blood clotting. Optimal vitamin D levels of ≥30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L) have been associated with higher bone mineral density, strength, decreased fracture risk, and improved lower extremity function.

 

Many studies are now looking at the effect of excessive serum calcium and correlating a negative effect including colon cancer. With proper levels of Vitamin D, calcium is able to be absorbed into the bone, where it belongs.

 

Diseases that are associated with or aggravated by Vitamin D deficiency

 

Summary
Vitamin D levels may need to be considerably higher in patients with sub therapeutic levels, and the number of people suffering from this condition is unnecessarily high. The last study estimating Vitamin D Deficiency from the National Health and Nutrition survey of 2005 to 2006 showed an overall deficiency of 44.6% (all races), with African Americans being at 82.1% and Hispanics at 69.2% (Forrest & Stuhldreher, 2011). These numbers can be easily corrected with proper health education, blood testing and supplementation through proper methods.

 

Before considering replacing or supplementing Vitamin D into ones diet, it is important to determine the current level with help of a provider with a blood test, since this vitamin is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it accumulates within the body and high levels can be unsafe.

 

Come see us today to determine your level of Vitamin D3 and let us get you on the road to health and wellness.

 

Joseph Poole is a UTMB Family Nurse Practitioner at Adult Primary Care, Webster.

 

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