Winter Wellness Part 2

Some days in the midst of winter, it feels like we’re never going to see the sun again. With an average of nine hours of daylight during the winter months (compared to about 15 hours during the summer), most folks in Minnesota are not getting the sun exposure required for sufficient levels of Vitamin D between October to March.

Continued from Part 1 of Chiropractic Tips For Winter Wellness

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

The odds are that you don’t get enough vitamin D. The same holds true if you don’t get outside for at least a 15-minute daily walk in the sun. Worldwide, an estimated 1 billion people have inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, and deficiencies can be found in all ethnicities and age groups.

Why are these widespread vitamin D deficiencies of such great concern? Because research conducted over the past decade suggests that vitamin D plays a much broader disease-fighting role than once thought.

There is a vast body of science showing the many health benefits of vitamin D. You may be surprised to learn the important role that vitamin D plays in your health.

Also, known as the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D has many benefits: reduce heart risks, help to fight viral infections, absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth, maintain healthy blood pressure, control insulin production and help to prevent certain cancers, especially colorectal and breast cancer.

Low blood levels of Vitamin D are common in Minnesota. In many scientific studies, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression or more severe, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and cancer of breast, prostate and colon.

The best way to get Vitamin D is through diet and/or short periods of spring and summer sun exposure on hands and arms (15-30 minutes depending on your age, skin pigmentation and body mass) before putting on sunscreen. However, during the autumn and winter months, we have no choice but to use foods high in Vitamin D content.

Vitamin D Sources

Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D, so the biggest dietary sources of vitamin D are fortified foods and vitamin supplements. Good sources include dairy products and breakfast cereals (both of which are fortified with vitamin D), and fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.

For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement, but the level in most multivitamins (400 IU) is too low. Encouragingly, some manufacturers have begun adding 800 or 1,000 IU of vitamin D to their standard multivitamin preparations. If the multivitamin you take does not have 1,000 IU of vitamin D, you may want to consider adding a separate vitamin D supplement, especially if you don’t spend much time in the sun.

Two forms of vitamin D are used in supplements: vitamin D2 (“ergocalciferol,” or pre-vitamin D) and vitamin D3 (“cholecalciferol”). Vitamin D3 is chemically indistinguishable from the form of vitamin D produced in the body.

The body also manufactures vitamin D from cholesterol, through a process triggered by the action of sunlight on skin, hence its nickname, “the sunshine vitamin.”  Yet some people do not make enough vitamin D from the sun, among them, people who have a darker skin tone, who are overweight, who are older, and who cover up when they are in the sun.

Vitamin D supplements are also readily available over-the-counter at pharmacies and health food stores in pills, chewable tablets and drops. Your St Paul MN Chiropractor can also help you determine if you are getting enough Vitamin D.