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This is the first of an ongoing series of blog posts, answering questions we get about different supplements. 

 

Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin at all. Because it can be synthesized by most mammals in sufficient amounts, it is really considered a hormone!  Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble compounds that can be made from cholesterol in the skin through a chemical reaction that depends on sun exposure.  The compound created in the skin has to be further transformed by both the liver and kidneys to the active, or useable form.

 

In reality, nearly all vitamin D in the human body is absorbed from the food we eat or from supplements rather than created in the skin.  Vitamin D from food generally has to go through the same process in the liver and kidneys to its active form. Not very many foods naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin D – oily fish and egg yolks are good sources.  In the US, many foods such as cow’s milk, some nut milks, and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Still, some estimates are that nearly half of Americans consume insufficient levels of vitamin D and that nearly a quarter have deficient levels.

 

Besides being responsible for increasing intestinal absorption of calciummagnesium, and phosphate, vitamin D helps regulate the balance of these minerals in the rest of our body as well.  It is also important for moderating many other important processes like:
  • Bone mineralization
  • Nerve and muscle function and interaction
  • Inflammation
  • Immune function
  • Glucose metabolism
  • Genetic processes important in the development of some cancers

 

Low levels (even lower half of the “normal” range) have been associated with increased rates of depression, anxiety, ADHD, cognitive dysfunction/dementia, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, obesity, and poor outcomes in people infected with Covid-19.  However, studies using vitamin D supplementation as sole treatment (not prevention) for most of these conditions have not been particularly well designed and results are quite limited. There is good data to support the use of vitamin D in prevention of upper respiratory tract illness and osteoporosis.

 

Because it is so difficult to maintain adequate levels of Vitamin D through diet alone, people often take supplements.  Supplements come in a variety of forms with D3 being the most common.  Many also have vitamin K to help increase absorption and regulate mineral (especially calcium) balance.  Vitamin D supplements are best absorbed with food so taking them with a meal is best. Here in Colorado, a daily dose of 2,000 to 5,000iu is necessary to maintain an adequate level, especially in winter.  Even though toxicity is rare and is usually related to excess calcium intake, it is a good idea to have your levels monitored if you take more than 2,000 units daily for an extended period of time.

 

 

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At Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic, we encourage our patients to incorporate lifestyle practices into daily life as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for: major depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder (bipolar depression), postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction.  Our services include integrative medicine, ketamine and lidocaine infusions, IV supplements, and medical acupuncture.  If you or someone you know suffers from any of these conditions and this approach to health and wellness resonates with you, please contact us for more information.