You've probably heard about supplementing with vitamin D over the past few years, and maybe you've even had your blood levels tested to see if you need it. Most medical and health professionals will tell you that you need at least a blood level of 30 ng/mL of vitamin D (or "25-hydroxyvitamin D"). A great deal of research, however, shows us that we should strive for closer to a blood level of 50 ng/mL or more (up to 80 ng/mL) in order to achieve meaningful benefits.
While we manufacture vitamin D on our own through exposure to sunlight, there has been a recent rise in very low levels of vitamin D in Americans. This is most likely due to decreased time outside in direct sunlight and without sunscreen (which is a result of the awareness and fear of skin cancer) and also due to increased time in front of screens and technology (which leads to decreased time in Nature, outside, in sunlight).
I couldn't believe how low my own vitamin D levels were a few years ago (17 ng/mL!!!). I spend time outdoors every, single day, during daylight hours, for about an hour each day, so I was really surprised by my results. I've been supplementing daily ("mega-dosing" at first with up to 10,000 IU/day) for a few years now with easy-to-assimilate vitamin D drops. (Here's the link to the product I use.) My levels are back up in a good range, and I feel confident that I'm now getting the health protective benefits of higher blood levels of vitamin D.
So what, exactly, are these benefits? Instead of going into too much detail, I'm going to list the results of studies to help you see the "big picture." (If you're interested in the actual medical studies and medical journal articles, just shoot me an email, and I'll send you the references.)
There are SO many more studies about the benefits of supplementing with vitamin D and about the correlations between higher levels of vitamin D in the blood and lowered levels of everything from cancer, to dementia, to cardiovascular disease, to depression. I personally know people who have greatly relieved their migraine and headache frequency, as well as seasonal affective disorder, just to start.
Where should you start? Request a blood test to see what your vitamin D levels are. Remember, many experts suggest that a blood level of 50-80 ng/mL of vitamin D is ideal for the optimal protection of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive decline/dementia. You can get a blood test from your physician, but independent companies, like Life Extension (www.lifeextension.com), offer them as well, and they're super-affordable without the hassle of going to a doctor's office or dealing with insurance.
How to supplement? Many experts suggest taking between 5000 and 8000 IU of vitamin D3 daily (if you are a heavier or larger person, experts recommend a daily dosage on the higher end). Vitamin D3 is best absorbed with food that contains fat (so with a meal). Better yet, use a liquid Vitamin D3 (tasteless and odorless) to experience the benefits without taxing your digestive system or having to swallow a pill. (Again, here's the link to the product I use.)
Hope that gives you some food for thought about vitamin D. It's something I personally believe just about everyone should be supplementing with; if we did, I think it would reduce a great deal of suffering and disease. I hope you consider checking your levels and seeing where you are. Knowledge is power!
Meghan Hays Ayurveda - Ayurveda Salt Lake City