Winter is Coming
Around this time of year, many of us Michiganders half laugh/half pout about the “6 months of winter” that’s just about to begin. Sure, there’s the fun of holidays and family get-togethers to look forward to. But we also have the luck of looking forward bitter cold, slush and ice, and extra long nights.
Many of us leave for work in the dark and don’t return home until after dark. And in today’s society of office jobs, that means many of us don’t get any time out in the sun. Period. The lack of sunlight in our daily lives can lead to a host of problems – including Vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Maintaining normal levels of Vitamin D is crucial. Vitamin D helps boost our immune systems (especially important during the winter months), helps with diabetes and insulin resistance, decreases our bodies’ inflammation, and is critical for our bone health. It also plays an important role in hormone production and can help prevent cancer.
Many people aren’t getting enough Vitamin D in to meet their physiological needs. During the summer, people with jobs outside or who spend a lot of time outdoors can likely hit healthy levels of Vitamin D. This is due to our bodies’ amazing ability to produce Vitamin D after sunlight hits our skin – beginning a cascade of events in our body. However, like we stated earlier, many of us have indoor jobs that keep us from getting the required amounts of sunlight for this process to occur.
Add a crappy diet on top of that and you have a formula for being Vitamin D deficient. A study published back in 2011 found that nearly 70% of us aren’t getting enough Vitamin D on a regular basis. That’s including after accounting for supplementation!
During the winter months, living too far from the equator makes it nearly impossible to get the right levels of Vitamin D without some form of supplementation. Check out the charts below from the EPA showing the amounts of UVB and the likelihood of us synthesizing Vitamin D on our own from sunlight. Doesn’t look good for us Michiganders…
Vitamin D Supplementation
During the summer, you may be one of the lucky ones that gets outside enough to let your body produce enough Vitamin D naturally. However, if you rarely see the sun or if it’s during the winter – supplementation may be a smart idea.
Always remember that the quality of supplements you’re taking will make a big difference if the nutrients are being absorbed or if you’re working through a lot of fillers. Top-quality supplements don’t necessarily mean expensive either. If you’re not sure ask a nutritionist or a doctor to help guide you in the right direction. Our office carries pharmaceutical grade supplements from Anabolic Labs and our patients love them.
When it comes to Vitamin D, look for a Vitamin D3 supplement instead of a Vitamin D2 supplement. Vitamin D3 is less likely to cause issues in your body and it converts to a form your body can use more easily.
Without getting blood work done, it’s tough to give a specific dosage to get your Vitamin D levels back to a normal range. You can ask your doctor to order a test to see if you’re concerned – especially if you think you might be extra deficient. For the majority of people that are just looking for a boost to help stay in the normal range, I typically recommend the following dosages for supplementation:
0 – 2,000 IUs daily during the summer. If you work indoors, you’ll want to be closer to 2,000 IUs to help supplement what you’re already making from the sun.
5,000 – 10,000 IUs daily during the winter. If you’re exposed to the sun during these months, chances are you’re still wearing more clothing – covering your skin and preventing Vitamin D synthesis. If you rarely see the sun or you know your levels are typically low, shoot for closer to the 10,000 IU mark.