Healthy Cove

Vitamin D Deficiency: The Truth Revealed

Let’s get down to business—vitamin D business.

What is it?

Vitamin D is a micronutrient that our bodies depend on for a variety of functions. Besides being important to keeping bones strong and healthy, vitamin D supports your healthy muscles, heart, lungs, and brain function. Oh, and it helps your immune system, too. Pretty cool, right?*

Vitamin D DeficiencyThe problem with this stuff is that we don’t produce it naturally. Yep, it’s kind of a bummer, I know. But vitamin D comes from only three sources: through exposure to the sun, certain foods, and supplements.

What’s the Best Way to Get it?

Turns out, relying solely on your diet is not a good idea when it comes to maintaining proper vitamin D levels. There just aren’t enough foods with high enough levels to get what your body needs. And that leaves us with the sun and supplementation as our go-to resources for avoiding vitamin D deficiency.

Now before you go off to bask in the beautiful sunshine, let’s talk about how it can impact your health.

Every time we expose our bare skin to direct sunlight, we use ultraviolet B (UVB) rays to produce vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Sunlight can be a tricky thing, though, because too much can be a bad thing. You need to monitor how much sun exposure is needed for healthy vitamin D levels. Otherwise, you might face some scary skin issues later in life.

Oh, and the amount of vitamin D you actually absorb from sunlight differs depending on the time of day and year, where you live, and the color of your skin. So those winter rays don’t necessarily produce the same amount of vitamin D that summer rays do.

See what I mean about tricky?

How Do you Know You’re Running Low? (signs of vitamin D deficiency)

Okay, the truth is that the only surefire way to know if you’re dealing with vitamin D deficiency is to have your blood tested by a physician. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency. Below are the symptoms and signs I was able to dig up (you’re lucky to read it here, but since USANA is a trusted partner and sponsor of The Dr. Oz Show, our own Brian Dixon, Ph.D., explained a lot of this on television as well).

Vitamin D DeficiencyFeeling Down and Out

Turns out, when you run low on vitamin D, it takes a pretty serious toll on your mood. This is because our brains produce serotonin—a hormone that affects our moods—at a higher rate when we’re exposed to sunshine or bright light. And as I mentioned, more exposure to sunlight means more vitamin D.

Skin Color

Those with darker skin are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency, because skin pigment has a direct correlation with how much vitamin D is absorbed. Some research suggests that those with darker skin may need up to 10 times more sun exposure than those with lighter skin to produce a comparable amount of vitamin D.

Age

Besides the fact that older people usually spend more time indoors (okay, maybe that’s just my grandparents?), aging correlates to vitamin D deficiency in a couple of ways. First, the skin loses its ability to absorb as much vitamin D as we get older. And second, our kidneys slowly become less effective at converting vitamin D into the form used by our bodies.

Vitamin D DeficiencySweat

Excessive sweating (specifically, on your forehead) is a very common symptom of those facing vitamin D deficiency. So if you’re constantly wiping the sweat off your brow (outside of the gym), you might want to look into that blood test I mentioned earlier.

Achy Bones

Many people who are unknowingly deficient in vitamin D will complain of bones and joints that are achy or painful. This is because vitamin D is very important for maintaining strong bones.

Calcium and phosphorus are essential for developing a healthy structure and strength of your bones, and you need vitamin D to absorb these minerals. There’s no “bones” about it. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a bad pun.)* For more on that, take a look at this handy bone health infographic.

Excessive Weight

Vitamin D DeficiencyThe thing about vitamin D is that it’s fat-soluble—meaning that the fat in our bodies is how we collect and store it. So if you’re overweight, the excessive amount of fat in your body needs a comparable amount of vitamin D to absorb. So you’ll need a lot more vitamin D than someone with a low percentage of body fat.

Gut Problems

Like I just mentioned, vitamin D is fat-soluble vitamin. So certain gut conditions that cause a lower absorption of fat can also lower your absorption of vitamin D. Sorry, I need to get my mind out of the “gutter.” (You can’t stop me.)

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough?

Okay, so now you know all about vitamin D and why it’s important. But do you know what it means if you happen to be someone struggling with vitamin D deficiency? It’s not good, people.

As doctors continue to discover the benefits of healthy vitamin D levels, more and more research indicates that a lack of vitamin D may lead to other health issues other than the ones I mention above. Some people even believe that because vitamin D deficiency often goes undiagnosed, doctors attribute a person’s vitamin D deficiency symptoms to other health conditions that they don’t actually have.

So, if you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, vitamin D deficiency is not something you want to deal with…like ever. Visit the vitamin D council’s website to see what their research has uncovered. I used a good chunk of their research to write this post.

So How Much Do You Need?

Okay, are you ready for me to stop talking at you and tell you just how much vitamin D you need? Well, let me explain…

As far as how much you need, that depends on who you’re asking. Every person has different needs, but many researchers believe that further research will eventually prove that the U.S. government recommendations aren’t high enough. Your safest bet is to talk to your doctor and have your vitamin D levels tested every three months.

Check out the fancy chart I snagged from the Vitamin D Council below to see the different vitamin D recommendations, and be sure to share this important information with your friends and family.

Vitamin D Council - How Much vitamin D

Oh, and don’t forget that supplementation is a super reliable way to get your vitamin D. Just one of USANA’s Vitamin D tablets provides 2,000 IU of vitamin D3, which is the same type of vitamin D your body produces when exposed to sunlight. And guess what else? For most people, vitamin D is easily absorbable and always important to maintain. So you could probably reap some of the benefits of taking a vitamin D supplement on a daily basis.

If you interested in purchasing high quality Vitamin D .

Coast Lifestyle

How to Choose the Best Multivitamin

Even with the best intentions, sometimes we fall short on our nutritional needs. Food is the best source of nutrition, of course. However, taking a multivitamin can be a great way to fill any small gaps you might have in your diet. Let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day. While I would love to be cooking delicious and nutritious food for every meal of the day, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Taking a multivitamin is the most convenient way to make up for small deficiencies which could eventually lead to chronic diseases.

This is not an excuse to replace your chicken Caesar salad with a Quatar pounder from Maccas. Vitamin supplements don’t replace a healthy diet and lifestyle, they, well, supplement it. They live together in harmony. Healthy lifestyle + supplementation = optimal health.

The easy part is deciding a multi is right for you, the hard part is choosing one. With trillions of brands lining the shelves, we’ve got a few tips to help you choose the right vitamin.

Too Much of a Good Thing is Never Good 

A row of apples. The first with a bite out of it.

You want to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that your body needs to function at its best, but you don’t want to overdose on nutrients which can be toxic in high doses.

Do some research on the safe upper limit of nutrient consumption and compare it to supplements before you buy. Remember, the nutrients you consume through food are included in this limit too. You don’t need to sit with a calculator to do the math. If your multivitamin has reached, or is above the safe upper limit of a nutrient, this is not a good thing.

Your Health is Worth More Than Cheap and Nasty

Ryan Gosling telling Steve Carell to

I like a good bargain. Sure, who doesn’t love a cheap tee from Kmart or a good deal on gas? But one area not to skimp on is yourself. Invest in your health. You could argue that investing in nutritious food and quality vitamins is a waste, but c’mon, you’re gonna be stuck with your body for a long time, in fact your entire life, so treat it well!

As Ryan Gosling said, be better than the Gap.

Third Party Testing Approval

Testing from a trusted independent tester, such as ConsumerLab.com, can give you the confidence that your multivitamin has the ingredients it says it does. A a seal of approval for label accuracy and purity from a third party tester can give you some peace of mind that you’re taking a quality supplement.

The reason third party testing is important is that it is essentially the company’s responsibility to ensure their own product is high quality and complies with laws. There is no pre-approval process for dietary supplements in New Zealand. It remains the responsibility of the sponsor (the person legally responsible for placing the product on the market) to ensure the product is made to an acceptable quality, is safe to use and complies with the law.

Choosing the Best Multivitamin and Other Supplements for Your Individual Needs

Pregnant woman doing a standing yoga pose

 

There are certain times when the status quo doesn’t work for you. A multivitamin is designed to help you meet the daily recommended intake of vitamins, but you could need something a little different. For example, if you’re pregnant, a prenatal would be better suited for you because you have different nutritional needs. The same logic means children and teens would be better taking a children or teens’ multivitamin suited to their age. Additionally, you might want to take a specific supplement on top of your daily multivitamin to suite your individual needs.

I think you’re ready now to tackle the task of finding the best multivitamin for you.

Special Thank You to Monique Sparks
Coast Lifestyle

Back to School Health Tips

Back to School Health Tips Feature

It’s that time of year for many of us. No, I’m not talking about football season and new television shows. Back to school season is here. We make sure they have appropriate school clothes, all the important supplies they need, and we send them off to learn and make new friends. Often overlooked, an important factor for success is their nutrition and overall health. Are we arming them with everything they need to be successful?

Picky Eaters

You have probably heard it before, but the majority of us don’t eat as healthy as we should. Research shows it is even more unlikely that children eat an optimal diet. No matter how hard we try, some kids are just picky eaters, making it even more difficult. The consequences of a less than stellar diet are not always obvious, especially in adults. The results of a poor diet are much more obvious in children, though, and can have a long-lasting impact on their future.

Supplements for All Ages

Do your children and teens need supplements? If they are like most kids they do. It is very unlikely they are even meeting the minimum recommended dietary standards during the most important time for growth and development in their lifetime. If they are, they are definitely the exception according to a government review. Across the entire age range, both males and females were unlikely to get adequate vitamin E, magnesium, vitamin A, potassium, and fiber. Adolescent females tended to have low reported intakes of nearly all the nutrients investigated by the committee.

Taking a good quality multivitamin/mineral helps ensure adequacy of many of the nutrients that may be missing in their diet. In addition to simply preventing a deficiency, a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that multivitamin/mineral supplements actually support aspects of brain function in healthy children, improving performance and
accuracy on tests of attention.

Individual Nutrients

There are individual nutrients which can have a big impact on several aspects of health and learning. Vitamin B12 deficiencies have been shown to impact neurological development and negatively impact cognitive performance years later. Zinc deficiencies are relatively common and can slow normal growth and development. A study in Thai school children actually showed zinc supplementation resulted in greater gains in height compared to a placebo group after 2 months. Other research shows that inadequate omega-3 fatty acid levels may be associated with an increase in behavior problems, emotion regulation, and anti-social traits.

In addition to their role in neurological development and effect on emotional health, a new study by Swedish research has shown that omega-3s may improve reading ability in mainstream and healthy schoolchildren.

A Healthy Immune System

Another common concern with children returning to school is good immune health. Good hygiene practices (hand washing), adequate sleep, and a nutrient rich diet (which likely includes a multivitamin/mineral) are important in maintaining good immune health.

Probiotics are another consideration when it comes to supporting immune health. Research published in the Clinical Nutrition journal showed that Lactobacillus GG (LGG), a strain of probiotics, decreased the risk of upper respiratory tract infections in children attending day care centers. The researchers also found that the rate of absence due to infection was lower in children receiving LGG when compared to placebo.

Whether your kids are in daycare, preschool, or K-12 schools, optimal learning, and cognitive health is dependent on more than books and teachers. Make sure they have the advantage of a healthy diet and superior nutritional support for overall mental and physical health.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.