Last year, genetic testing showed that I had an elevated risk of Vitamin D and calcium deficiency. Knowing my family history of osteoporosis and my difficulty tolerating dairy, I’ve been looking into ways I can optimize my Vitamin D levels throughout the year. Here’s an update on Vitamin D as it relates to mood, energy and bone health.
Vitamin D is actually a vital hormone, communicating with many different organs in the body: brain, skin, immune system, heart system, bone and muscle tissue. We consume Vitamin D from foods like salmon, sardines and fortified foods. We also make Vitamin D with exposure to sunlight. In the Vancouver BC area, we make significant amounts of Vitamin D (about 10,000IUs per day) from the sun but only in the summer (assuming we’re spending time outside!). During the rest of the year, our dark weather, our distance from the sun, and our largely indoor-oriented lives contribute to lower Vitamin D levels. Those working night shifts are particularly at risk of low Vitamin D levels. In addition, fat indigestion (due to gallbladder issues, etc.) increases risk of fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies.
I think many of us have experienced the dip in mood and energy with the change to darker and shorter days. There are multiple factors contributing to this including the lack of sunlight during the day and and artificial light at night – weakening the circadian rhythm and causing poor quality sleep. Check out Dr. Neetu’s article for more on our sleep/wake cycle. Greater sugar and caffeine intake further exacerbates poor sleep, mood issues and fatigue. In addition, studies have shown the link between depressive symptoms and low Vitamin D levels in adults of all ages (1, 2). Furthermore, replenishing Vitamin D in depressed individuals with a measured deficiency, has been shown to improve depressive symptoms (3).
Many are familiar with the role of calcium and Vitamin D in bone health however, proper bone health requires many different factors working together including sufficient magnesium, protein, Vitamin K2, weight bearing exercises, healthy hormone signaling. Although Vitamin K2 is not as well known as calcium, studies, mostly on postmenopausal women, show K2 supplementation leads to significant improvements in fracture incidence and bone mass density (4, 5) . When it comes to supplements, I take Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 together as they have a synergistic effect. Together they ensure proper placement of calcium and protein in bones and other tissues. Since these are both fat soluble vitamins I recommend taking them with food or using a highly absorbable liposomal form.
Replenishing Vitamin D
Fish like sockeye salmon and sardines are great sources of Vitamin D, however most of us aren’t eating enough to sufficiently improve or maintain Vitamin D levels especially in the winter. Therefore supplementing with a moderate dose of 1000-2000IUs per day is helpful for many Canadians especially in the winter. If you’re considering larger doses for more than a few days, check your Vitamin D (25 hydroxy Vitamin D) levels and speak to your physician for guidance.
Benefits of Sunlight
Of course, sunlight is much more than Vitamin D: UVB light not only triggers Vitamin D production, it also triggers nitric oxide linked to better blood pressure and heart health. And, as mentioned above, sunlight during the day promotes healthy melatonin production at night for better sleep and circadian rhythms. So even if you’re already taking Vitamin D, next time we have that rare sunny day, bundle up, head outside and soak up these other health benefits too.
For a limited time Solray D is 10% off at Brio! This liposomal Vitamin D3 and K2 spray is highly absorbable – spray and swish in your mouth for 30 seconds before swallowing for best absorption. It has a great orange flavour and at 2000IUs per day, one bottle will last months! Typical doses are 1-5 sprays per day – speak to your physician to determine the best dose for you.
We wish the Brio community a healthy winter this year!