Low on Vitamin D?

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Surprisingly, despite living in one of the sunniest places in the world, over 25% of the Southern Arizona population, primarily composed of women and those with darker complexions, are Vitamin D deficient. This essential nutrient for overall health is one that is often depleted during pregnancy and post-partum which can impact health both short and long term. Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood Changes/Depression
  • Hair Loss
  • Frequent illness
  • Poor wound healing
  • Muscle weakness/aches
  • Bone Loss
  • Cognitive fog
  • Poor insulin regulation
  • Cardiovascular issues

One of the benefits of living in such a sunny state is our access to sunlight, the body’s natural way of producing Vitamin D. Exposing approximately 25% of the body to 8-10 minutes of daily sunlight is enough to produce adequate amounts of Vitamin D.  As a Skin Care professional and Melanoma survivor, I can confidently say that the benefits of this short amount of sunshine far outweigh the risks.

In addition, while few foods naturally contain or are fortified with Vitamin D, a diet high in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, can help prevent deficiencies.  Mushrooms, eggs and raw milk are also good options to help boost levels.

That being said, not everyone who increases their intake will be able to guarantee their body is getting enough or utilizing what they have properly due to a deficiency in cofactor nutrients, the vitamins and minerals that help us to absorb more vitamin D.

Boron: 

It doesn’t take much of this trace mineral to really improve overall health and Vitamin D utilization. It is often one I recommend breast feeding mothers try to focus on due to its benefits in regulating hormones, cravings, boosting immune function, wound healing and bone health.  In addition, it works to increase magnesium absorption, another key mineral in Vitamin D absorption. Nuts, leafy greens and fruits are a great way to ensure you are getting plenty of Boron in your diet

Vitamin K: 

Vitamins K and D go together like peas and carrots to make use of calcium and help strengthen bones.  In fact, one of my favorite supplements actually pairs them together so that Vitamin D can work more effectively.  You can also get plenty of vitamin K through organ meats, eggs, cheeses and leafy greens.

Vitamin A:

Fat soluble Vitamin A works with Vitamin D to help optimize the function of your genetic code. Meaning, Vitamin D cannot do its job properly, without A. The more bio-available form, retinol, can be found in organ meats and dairy products. While the more popular Beta-carotene form of vitamin A can be gained from colorful fruits, vegetables and leafy geens.

Magnesium:

This wonderful mineral allows us to properly utilize many vitamins, including Vitamin D, in our body as well as helps in converting energy from the food we eat.  Unfortunately, stress has been linked to increased magnesium loss in the body, and since I don’t know a single mom who isn’t stressed to some degree, I highly recommend those leafy greens and nuts again, along with seeds and whole grains to increase magnesium in the diet.

Zinc:

The body doesn’t store Zinc, and since it works with Vitamin D to ensure bone health and growth, getting it daily through supplements or foods is essential.  Good sources include red meat, poultry and wild-caught poultry, as well as legumes. As a bonus, Zinc is great for immune function, skin health and much, much more so enjoy this one!

If you are eating a balanced diet, you are more than likely getting the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for all of these nutrients. Certain genetic predispositions, illnesses and age can mean that you need to supplement as well or pay extra attention to the foods you are consuming to get the most out of your diet.

As we move into cooler winter months, remember to make the most out of the Vitamin D you are able produce through sun exposure or supplement by including your co-factor nutrients in your diet. Your body will thank you in the long run.

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