Get your Vitamin D!
Living in Ireland, the absence of sunlight may cause you to consider replacing and replenishing your vitamin D stores.
Below is a brief primer on the subject that hopefully covers many of the bases with regards to this essential vitamin.
What is vitamin D?
Surprise, it’s not really a vitamin — it’s a prohormone or hormone precursor. Like cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone, it’s derived from cholesterol molecules.
How do I get it?
Humans make vitamin D in the bottom two layers of the skin in a photochemical reaction driven by a narrow band of UV light. This means the most significant source is sunlight.
How do I become deficient?
Generally, most people start healthy. Those of us in climates and latitudes with longer winters and extended cloud cover (and 9-6 office jobs!) can take a few months of darkness to become vitamin D deficient. It’s difficult to stay topped up in the midst of an Irish winter and spring (and summer?), especially if you spend seven days a week playing at a computer.
What’s the vitamin D sold in stores?
When you take vitamin D orally, you usually take vitamin D3 as cholecalciferol. It’s absorbed in the gut, carried into the blood, and then makes its way to the liver.
Why should I be interested in vitamin D?
First of all, it strengthens your immune system. It also decreases risk of serious and common autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D replacement improves insulin sensitivity, the ability to secrete insulin, as well as hypertension.
Currently, while vitamin D deficiency does increase the likelihood of diseases of civilization, it’s not seen as a primary cause.
What about the big “c”?
A ton of studies show that exposure to UV light and in some cases vitamin D intake are inversely related to the risk of common cancers, including colon, breast, prostate, esophagus and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Okay, I’m sold. Where can I get some vitamin D?
You can get more than 80 percent from sunlight. It’s the only natural source of any significance.
General guidelines suggest that getting whole-body sunlight between 10 and noon for 20 minutes is equivalent to oral dosing with 10,000 IU.
How much do I need?
The current Recommended Daily Allowance is 400 IU a day, which is the bare minimum required to avoid rickets.
If you can get sun at midday — say on lunch-break, with a quarter of your skin uncovered (leave on your pants) for a half hour, and your latitude and the season allow enough UV, you should be fine.
How much should I take?
If you’re out in the sun a lot, then 5,000 IU daily should maintain.If not double it
If you’re low, you’ll need to take much more. Get a test to know for sure, every 3-6 months.
What if I still eat wheat?
Be aware that wheat will cause you to use up your stores of vitamin D much faster, and also will stop vitamin D from getting into the cells where it can be used.
Any other benefits?
For sure! We’ll leave you with just two: some research shows that having optimal vitamin D levels may reduce your likelihood of getting sunburnt.
Also, vitamin D will help you with your gains in the gym. It has been shown as long ago as the 1950s that exposure to UV radiatio
n increases strength. It was also noted that trainability and performance peaked in late summer and was lowest in mid-winter.