Despite the positive discoveries related to the benefits of vitamin D, a number of questions remain. Many experts are still unsure as to the extent vitamin D deficiency plays in disease development.  Many experts also disagree on whether or not supplementation or sun exposure is best. And, there are differing opinions on how much vitamin D is necessary. Regardless of the finer details, one thing is for certain — upwards of 75% of the American population is vitamin D deficient, there ARE consequences, and it’s a problem that can only be described as pandemic. 
Are You Vitamin D Deficient?
Vitamin D levels (termed 25(OH)D, or 25 Hydroxyvitamin D) are measured using a simple blood test that your doctor can order. There are also simple, inexpensive at-home tests available that use an easy blood “spot” to provide an estimation. Checking your levels at least once per year is recommended, yet some people are more diligent. Given that vitamin D deficiencies have been associated with an increased risk of common cancers, bone disorders, autoimmune disease, hypertension, and infectious diseases, it’s not a bad idea to stay on top of it. 
If you’re getting your vitamin D levels checked, the guidelines to determine your status are as follows: 
- Deficient: ≤ 20 ng/mL
- Insufficient: 20-30 ng/mL
- Optimal: 40-70 ng/mL
Are You At Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
With upwards of 75% of the population already heading toward vitamin D deficiency, some might say it’s a safe bet to consider nearly everyone else at risk for vitamin D deficiency, right? It really begs the question, why is this such a problem? I don’t want to over simplify the issue but in the simplest terms… consider for a moment consider the main natural source of vitamin D — sun exposure. What are most people told to avoid or they’ll get skin cancer? Sun exposure.
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D isn’t an optional nutrient, our bodies need it, and without it, problems can arise. Many people go through life with nagging aches and pains, allergies, malaise, and a general lack of vitality. Such nonspecific symptoms can be the result of one, or several factors, and vitamin D deficiency is one of them. Specific symptoms related to vitamin D deficiency include:
- Muscle weakness
- Joint aches and discomfort
- High blood pressure
- Inability to concentrate or focus
- Urinary incontinence, bladder issues
- Cold/flu, immune system decline
- Mood disorders
- Heart disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Periodontal disease
- Neurological diseases
Make Sure You Get Enough Vitamin D
With regard to vitamin D, these are the facts to know… your body will produce vitamin D if given enough sunlight exposure, vitamin D supplementation can help fill the gaps when you don’t get enough sunlight, and there are a few foods that contain vitamin D but they’re not the most reliable.
Do you get enough sunlight, or do you supplement with vitamin D? Let us know your thoughts and comments on this vital nutrient!
by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
- Michael F Holick, Tai C Chen. Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences. Am J Clin Nutr April 2008 vol. 87 no. 4 1080S1086S.
- Forrest KY, Stuhldreher WL. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;31(1):4854. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.12.001. PMID: 21310306.
- MF Holick. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6 Suppl):1678S88S.PMID: 15585788.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. 25-hydroxy vitamin D test. Medline Plus. Fact sheet.