Why is vitamin D important?

I've been flooded with patients' questions over the past few weeks about what you can do to boost immune function during these crazy and unprecedented times. Let's talk about vitamin D.

Why is vitamin D important? The simple answer is for healthy bone metabolism. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of phosphate and calcium, which are both required for normal bone development. Vitamin D is beneficial for overall health, including respiratory illnesses, cancer, depression, and heart disease.

Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory properties and is crucial for the activation of immune system defenses. It is known to enhance immune cells' function, including T-cells and macrophages, that protect your body against pathogens, including viruses. I recommend a high dose product from Ortho Molecular (50,000 IU per week) or ADK from BioTE 5,000 IU or 10,0000 IU per day. With therapeutic dosing, patients can experience quicker immune benefits.

What happens if you decide to supplement yourself with vitamin D without knowing your exact lab value? Here you can run the risk of having too much vitamin D. Having an excess of vitamin D can be toxic. It causes an increase in calcium levels, can increase the risk of falls and the formation of kidney stones. The goal is to have a medically optimized level. You can check your vitamin d level by doing a simple lab test. The usual range of vitamin D is between 30 ng/mL to 100 ng/mL. I prefer to keep my patients above 60 ng/mL.

So what are the best sources to get vitamin D naturally? The sun! It's estimated that you will need about 1000-1500 hours of direct exposure through non-winter months to get the appropriate vitamin D amount. I'm not advocating prolonged sun exposure due to the risk of burns and even skin cancer. I recommend about 15 minutes three times a week; this is usually enough. You can also get adequate amounts of vitamin D by consuming mushrooms, fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon.

If you're feeling fatigued, experiencing changes in your mood, have bone pain and muscle aches, then consider getting your levels measured. Vitamin D level should be checked in the following: patients with a history of gastric bypass surgery, history of malabsorption (Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease), people with dark skin, obese, perimenopausal women, osteopenia, pregnant and lactating women. If you fall under any of these categories, you should get screened and treated. Give us a call at 832-391-5300 to schedule your appointment.

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