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  • Writer's pictureMandy FNP

Vitamin D... the sunshine vitamin!

Vitamin D... the sunshine vitamin! This vitamin has gained popularity over recent years and there is a considerable amount of vitamin D hype floating around the internet AND within the medical community. But what does all that really mean to you?

An adequate vitamin D level is essential for calcium absorption in our gut. We get vitamin D naturally from the sunlight. It is converted into its active form once UV rays penetrate our skin. There are very few foods that contain vitamin D ... thus many foods are fortified.

Because vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, this vitamin is integral for development of strong bones in childhood and maintenance of strong bones throughout adulthood. People with low vitamin D levels can be at increased risk for reduced bone mineral density (osteoporosis). Many people believe there is a link between vitamin D and both seasonal depression as well as immune function. Those claims are supported by patient experience, but are not scientifically founded.

For people living in Alaska, typically 2000- 5000 units of vitamin D3/ day is a recommended.

This is a very safe supplement, however, before starting it, you should always consult your provider.

Also, dosage adjustments may be needed when determining how much a child should take!

Always consult your pediatrician before giving any supplement to a child.

A vitamin D level can be done in any standard medical office to see how much vitamin D you need.

Buyer beware, sometimes this is a costly test.

I can safely say, I haven't encountered a single person (who doesn't already supplement with vitamin D daily) who is not already low! People in Alaska are at more risk for deficiency.

We are talking vitamin D levels less than 20 frequently. Sometimes less than 10!

Here is your reason to move to Hawaii!

There seems to be confusion regarding the "optimal vitamin D level" people should be striving for. I routinely recommend a level between 40-50. It helps to supplement with higher amounts of vitamin D during the winter (when there is less sun exposure) and is typically okay to reduce the amount of vitamin D during the summer. But when you live in Alaska, you need to supplement with vitamin D all year long!

Vitamin D can be found at any major retailer and is okay to take at any time of day. Gummy vitamins, capsules, tablets, and liquid are just fine. Stick with a brand you trust (as supplements are not regulated by the FDA). And just FYI , it is better absorbed after a meal. The formulation D3 is also better absorbed.

Some people report that large doses make them sleepy.. that's okay. Just take your D before bed. Some folks also report nausea and/or diarrhea. These are side effects typically experienced with higher doses.

Remember, if you have any questions or concerns regarding vitamin D or how you or your family should supplement, reach out to your regular provider or give me a call!

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