We are heading into fall and colder weather 🍁🍄🌾💐. Whereas I love a good fall season with sunrises that look so much more striking and colorful, colder nights, and hopefully still sunny and warm days – the seasonal change also brings a new bout of illnesses and viruses with it. Taking care of our bodies, and minds may now be more important than ever. And doing so has a multitude of benefits. It will likely make you feel better, stronger, healthier. And if you do get sick, hopefully, a strong immune system will carry you through an illness that much quicker and faster with a speedy recovery on the other end.
The next few weeks are dedicated to this delicate time of the year. I break down for you how to keep your immune system strong and healthy. This is not done through a simple one-strategy approach. Rather, it is a delicate balance of both lifestyle and food choices. But today, we are starting off with a supplement. One that is mighty important and certainly changed my life!! If you did not know it already: Vitamin D is super important for our body and has many, many benefits. Why and how? We are diving into all of that now 😉. By the way, I also added some recipes that may help with vitamin D from a food intake perspective.
The Benefits of Vitamin D
Despite being named a vitamin, vitamin D is actually a precursor of a hormone. It is super essential for many reasons. For example for calcium absorption, bone and teeth health, to help regulate the immune system and insulin levels, as well as supporting proper lung and cardiovascular function. Because Vitamin D appears to be an excellent answer to quite a few health challenges, more and more emerging studies are being conducted. In that respect, vitamin D may also reduce the risk of preeclampsia whilst pregnant. There is also some research that suggests vitamin D deficiencies in children lead to overall higher blood pressure.
Why Do We Need To Talk About Vitamin D?
Whereas you can get some vitamin D from sun exposure and certain foods (e.g. fish, mushrooms, dairy, eggs, and red meat) most people (and this is approximately 40 – 75%!!) are actually Vitamin D deficient. Unfortunately, the darker your skin type the higher your risk of deficiency. That means we are exposing our bodies to (among others) potential higher risks of type 1 diabetes, blood pressure, heart failure, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
There is also a range of emerging evidence that adequate levels of Vitamin D intake have a positive effect on the current COVID-19 virus. It appears that patients with higher vitamin D levels were less likely to be in ICU treatment, less likely to die, and overall experienced a quicker and less severe recovery process. Is it just me who finds these benefits truly mindblowing??!! 🤯 I mean we are talking about a relatively inexpensive vitamin. Which has the capacity to make us feel better all around!! I am in awe at what our bodies are capable of – they simply know best 🙏🏻.
How Do I Know If I Am Vitamin D Deficient?
The way to find out whether you are deficient is by having it tested through some blood work. Your doctor will then be able to let you know how much you need to take in order to achieve your target level (the recommendation is 40-60 ng/ml (100-150 nmol/L)) and also keep it at that level. It makes sense to get re-tested at the right intervals in order to know whether your levels are still adequate. Your health care professional will support you on this journey.
Allow me to blurp in a small personal story here. When I originally got tested a few years ago, I was convinced that I would have great levels. Hey, I spent a lot of time outside and I try to eat healthily (in moderation). My levels were at 15 ng/ml (cheers to my arrogance thinking I would nail that “test” 🤣)!! I started taking Vitamin D and immediately felt an overall difference in my well-being. I slept better and I had a lot more energy during the day. And those are “just” the side-effects next to obviously all the amazing disease-preventing effects vitamin D has on the body.
Is There Such a Thing As Too Much Vitamin D?
Yes, there can be. Albeit the research on this is still developing and it is rare to find people with super high levels of vitamin D in their blood. Excessive amounts may cause high blood calcium levels. This can lead to digestive stress (including vomiting), nausea, fatigue and confusion, excessive thirst, and frequent urinating. Those symptoms can also take some time to develop. Vitamin D toxicity may also cause a higher likelihood of kidney failure. Toxic levels are defined as over 150 ng/mL (375 nmol/L). Too high a dosage of vitamin D can usually be reversed by not taking supplements, and reducing calcium intake in the diet. Some kidney failure may be permanent, though.
Short but sweet, I hope this post taught you everything you need to know about vitamin D and why it makes sense to include it as a supplement into your diet 🥰. If you would like to learn more about Vitamin D, especially in connection to COVID-19, my awesome Culinary Nutrition Expert founders have pulled together a website with an abundance of resources called The Vitamin D Hub.