The Unfamiliar Roles of Vitamin D
Most of us are aware that Vitamin D plays an essential role in maintaining healthy bones and mineral balance, but did you know that it has a range of other functions connected to chronic illness, muscle function and mental health?
It’s been discovered that there are Vitamin D receptors in various tissues in the body. As such, it acts as a hormone or chemical messenger directing a number of body functions. It is considered a ‘vitamin’ because it is essential for longevity and quality of life.
Decreased levels of Vitamin D can be involved in illnesses like cancer, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, high blood pressure, psoriasis, chronic muscle pain, weakness, depression and immunity. Incredible, right?
The number of conditions that are linked to Vitamin D status highlights the importance of knowing your levels! Signs and symptoms of deficiency can include:
- Bone pain
- Increase in fractures
- Muscle pain
- Slow wound healing
- Depression, sadness
- Hair loss
- Getting sick often
- Sleep issues..
A simple blood test can tell you what your levels are (note that in Ontario, the test is not covered under OHIP unless you have a specific health condition that needs monitoring such as Osteoporosis).
Both naturopathic doctors and medical doctors can provide a requisition for this blood test.
How can you boost your Vitamin D?
The major source of Vitamin D is through sun exposure, hence known as ‘The Sunshine Vitamin’. Living in a region above the 37th parallel (if you wish to look at a map) with long Winters increases the risk of deficiency.
So, it is important to get adequate sun exposure during the Summer months. Other ways to increase your Vitamin D levels are through foods like fatty fish, cod liver oil, mushrooms and egg yolks – though foods in general do not contain a high therapeutic dose often needed to raise your levels – still, good to include in your diet!
Often recommended and easier to incorporate are Vitamin D supplements. This can come in the form of taking softgels or via injection (similar to getting a flu shot in your arm).
How much should you take? This depends on your Vitamin D level.
As mentioned, it’s easy to get checked so inquire with your Naturopath or MD.
To learn more about the importance of Vitamin D or to get a requisition for bloodwork, contact Dr. Vincenza Rotulo, ND by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Movement Health: