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The Vitamin of Life: Everything You Should Know About Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vitamin D does more than give us strong bones, it keeps our cells functioning properly and empowers our immune system. With adequate stores it can prevent inflammatory damages that lead to chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Additionally, it plays an important role in male sexual function. According to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research, low vitamin D corresponded with impaired male sexual function, and the severity of dysfunction correlated with the degree of deficiency.

Vitamin D is needed to maintain a healthy immune system, recovery from mental and physical stressors, happy mood, decreased pain, endurance, and of course strong healthy bones. Vitamin D has also been shown to be vital for overall mental health and reducing your risk of depression. 

Vitamin D is our sunshine vitamin and is produced when our skin is exposed to and absorbs direct sunlight aka UV radiation. Vitamin D is not naturally occurring in our body and requirements cannot be met with our diet alone.

To meet our vitamin D requirements and avoid deficiency we need to expose at least 80% of our total body surface area to direct sunlight without protection for at least 15 Minutes everyday. 

That means exposing your bare skin to the sun with minimal clothing such as a swimsuit for at least 15 minutes every day without sun protectors such as SPF, sunglasses, hats or additional clothing. Realistically, most of us don’t do this, and for good reason, the sun is very powerful, and UV rays are harmful with their own consequences.

Let’s not forget to mention we have Fall and Winter months which reduce our exposure to sunshine for half a year, how do we ever make up for that? 

Now let’s be thorough here, did you know even more exposure to sunlight is required if you have darker pigmented skin tones, are aged < 50, and/or consume a high sugar calorie diet. Research tells us our Asian American and African American populations are the most vulnerable to Vitamin D deficiency with rates as high as 80% of our population in the United States.

This is because increased pigment known as melanin does not allow the skin to absorb as much UV radiation. Other increased risks suggest the older we become, the less efficient we are at producing Vitamin D and high sugar diets are so harmful they can actually block the production of Vitamin D even with adequate sunlight exposure.  

What’s even more startling is that even the young are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency, with teenagers and young adults less than 30 showing rising deficiency rates. That’s right, at the young age of 25 our body begins to deplete our Vitamin D stores and continues on a progressive decline.

Now it’s easy to see why Vitamin D has been awarded as the most prevalent vitamin deficiency in the world. 

Let’s further explain some more reasons for this modern day conundrum. Our modern day lifestyle is high tech, indoors and educated on UV radiation aka sun rays.

We now have decades of education on the harmful effects of UV radiation and now most of us use more than one method of sun protection to avoid the effects of premature aging, skin cancer and overheating. We wear hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and clothing when spending meaningful time outside.

On a more routine basis, most of us accomplished most our daily activities in an indoor setting and may only get exposure to direct unprotected  sunlight on a very small percentage of our body surface area and for only a brief amount of time such as while walking to and from our car and/or through some untinted windows.

Our modern day habits have progressively led us to less exposure to direct UV radiation, thus a Vitamin D deficiency epidemic.  

Here’s the good news, supplementation with Vitamin D is accessible, affordable and hassle-free. The CDC recommends at least 2,000-5,000 IU daily. Taking a pill everyday is definitely a chore and it’s also not the most productive way to receive your vitamins.

Oral supplementation requires digestion through your gastrointestinal system wasting greater than 70% of your dosage, leaving you with only up to 30% absorption of the actual vitamin.

Yes, very frustrating especially when your body needs it so desperately. Thankfully, today’s modern medicine has an easy solution for this modern day conundrum. A quick painless shot into the muscle of your arm just once a month can satisfy your Vitamin D3 requirements and very effectively replaces a daily pill as intramuscular absorption is 100% versus 30%  in oral supplementation. 

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Disclosure:

The NeuMed blog is published by NeuMed Modern Urgent Care + IV Therapy, an innovative urgent care and IV infusion therapy clinic with locations in Houston, Texas.

Any general advice posted on our blog, or website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.