Chances are good you’re not getting enough vitamin D. It’s a common problem that often goes undiagnosed.
Most of us spend far too much time these days inside, parked in front of a screen of some sort. And when we do decide to venture outside the constant warnings about the “dangers of sunshine” echoing in our heads have many of us scared to step out our front door unless we’re covered from head to toe in sunblock.
As a result vitamin D deficiency has skyrocketed. In fact, some experts estimate that up to 42 percent of American’s may now be running low on this vital vitamin.1 And over a billion people worldwide are believed to be deficient.2,3
If you’re a senior the picture gets even worse. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in folks in their golden years who tend to spend even less time outdoors, and whose bodies produce less of the vitamin as they age.
And all this shunning of the sun is taking a huge toll on our health. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a long list of health problems including cancer, hypertension, heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, fibromyalgia, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D deficiency linked to diabetes
And scientists say we can add diabetes to that list. Because it turns out chronically low vitamin D levels could be sending your risk for metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) and diabetes soaring.
Researchers from Sinai Hospital of Baltimore Maryland found that over 91 percent of the folks with type 2 diabetes they tested were deficient in vitamin D.4 And those with the lowest levels of the vitamin were also the most likely to have the highest blood-sugar levels.
A second study out of Amsterdam, focusing on seniors over 65, echoed those findings. About half of the folks tested had a vitamin D deficiency, and 37 percent also had prediabetes, or metabolic syndrome.5 When the researchers crunched the numbers they found those with the D deficiency were far more likely to have blood sugar issues than those without it.
The silent epidemic of vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is critical to your continued good health. It lowers your risk for well over half a dozen diseases, regulates the function of over 200 genes in your body and is absolutely essential for normal growth and development.6,7
Around 50 to 90 percent of the vitamin D in your body is produced when your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet rays of the sun, with the remaining D coming from your diet. But lack of sun exposure, combined with vitamin D recommendations that many experts believe are far too low to begin with, means that many of us simply aren’t getting enough of this vital vitamin, increasing our risk for diabetes.
On the other hand, raising vitamin D levels could help improve insulin resistance and your blood sugar.8
Your doctor can run a simple blood test for you to check your vitamin D levels (or look for a home testing kit online). And if you find your levels do need topping off, the number one single best source of the vitamin is sunshine.
How to raise your D and lower your risk
To stay healthy plan to get a little sun exposure every day. The name of the game is common sense, you don’t want to bake or burn. Around 15 to 20 sunscreen-free minutes a day outside in the sunshine, with at least 40 percent of your skin exposed, should do the trick according to experts.9
But remember age, skin tone and even where you live can affect your body’s ability to produce D, so to lower your risk for diabetes and other diseases you should make sure you have other sources of the vitamin too.
Vitamin D rich foods include…
- wild caught salmon
- cod liver oil
- Portabella mushrooms
- egg yolks
- and beef liver
You may also want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Healthier Talk contributor Dr. Allan Spreen typically recommends 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily, taken with a meal that contains fat to maximize its absorption. Talk with your own doc about what dosage is right for you.
1. 1. “Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults,” Nutrition Research, January 2011, Volume 31, Issue 1, Pages 48–54
2. “Vitamin D Deficiency,” N Engl J Med 2007; 357:266-281July 19, 2007
3. “Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):1080S-6S
4. “Prevalence of Vitamin D Deficiency and Association with Glycemic Control in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Retrospective Analysis,” P1-164, Endocrine Reviews, Supplement 1, June 2010, 31: S220, Page 221 (of 808)
5. “Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and the Metabolic Syndrome: A Population-Based Study,” P1-168, Endocrine Reviews, Supplement 1, June 2010, 31: S220, Page 225 (of 808)
6. “Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic,” Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2010 Jan; 4(1): V–VI
7. “The Vitamin D Epidemic and its Health Consequences,” J. Nutr. November 1, 2005, vol. 135 no. 11 2739S-2748S
8. “The impact of Vitamin D Replacement on Glucose Metabolism,” Pak J Med Sci. 2013 Nov-Dec; 29(6): 1311–1314
9. “Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic,” Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2010 Jan; 4(1): V–VI
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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