Vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years, your doctor may even have tested your levels and suggested supplementing – especially during the winter months. I hope you listened to him, because D has a host of positive effects and scientists are finding even more.
Adequate Vitamin D levels are good for mood, bones, cancer prevention, guarding against osteoporosis, insulin regulation and even weight loss. Now we are learning that it’s beneficial to building and maintaining muscle mass as well. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine reported that after adjusting for multiple factors, people with higher D levels had more muscle strength in their arms and legs.
Some estimate that as many as 40-50% of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient. Of 89 NFL football players measured in one study, over half had low vitamin D and those players were more prone to muscle injury than their teammates with adequate levels. And as for kids bone health, the Mayo clinic reports that fractures in girls are up 56% over 40 years ago, while boys are up 32%.
Got Milk? You Might Not Need It
Though dairy does contain some vitamin D, it is D2, a form that may not be as well absorbed as D3, the form most common in supplements. Dr. Michael Holick, author book The Vitamin D Solution (read a review here) suggests that moderate amounts of unprotected sun exposure is the best way to boost your D levels. Just 10 minutes of sunshine between 10am and 2pm without sunscreen gives you 10,000 IU’s of vitamin D. However take note, in the Pacific Northwest, vitamin D is only derived from sunlight between the months of May and September so during the remaining months you will want to supplement.
A good maintenance dose seems to be 2000 IU per day, though those with darker skin will need more. I’ve heard from some clients that their insurance companies are declining to pay for tests recently, but it’s worth asking your doctor anyway if you’ve never been tested.
And, remember, keep the sunscreen off until your body has a chance to make some of this precious nutrient.
To your best health!
Cassandra Mick, CNE