The Underrated Vitamin

Summer is in full swing here in the northeast; the sun is beating down and, with the humidity, it’s brutal! It’s the perfect time to learn about Vitamin D.

Dr. Michael F. Holick MD, PhD and esteemed professor at Boston University School of Medicine makes bold claims about Vitamin D deficiency based on his research over the past decade:  “It’s certainly the most common nutritional deficiency and likely the most common medical problem in the world, affecting 1.5 to 2 billion people.” Clearly, it is time to take Vitamin D seriously.

Do you suffer from any of the following symptoms?

Musculoskeletal issues: Muscle weakness, Muscle aches, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Osteomalacia, Rickets

Tiredness and fatigue

Depression, Schizophrenia, Seasonal Affective Disorder (Winter Blues)

Chronic Conditions: Asthma and Wheezing diseases, High Blood Pressure, Coronary Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Syndrome X

Autoimmune diseases: Type 1 diabetes, MS, Crohn’s Disease, Arthritis

Sleep Issues: Interrupted sleep, unable to fall asleep, tiredness upon waking

Cancer: especially breast, prostate, pancreatic, and colorectal

Breathing Conditions: Upper respiratory infections, Pulmonary tuberculosis

Vitamin D has important functions in virtually every organ system. It maintains liver, bone, and kidney health, keeps the immune system working well by fighting inflammation, aids the thyroid, maintains hormonal balance etc. Vitamin D is produced by the cells in the skin using sunlight.

Wait–if the body makes Vitamin D, why worry about it? Things have changed,–in most cases, for various reasons, we are not getting adequate sunlight to make enough Vitamin D.

Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency:


Organ trouble: Liver failure, Kidney failure, Kidney damage including Nephrotic syndrome

Mal-absorption: Crohn’s Disease, Whipple disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Celiac disease, Liver disease

Medications and Supplements: Corticosteroids, Antiseizure medicines, Glucocorticoids, Rifampin, HAART (HIV medication), and St. John’s Wart

Impaired Absorption or Low-Availability of Sunlight: sunscreen, latitude above 40 (the line from NYC over to Northern CA), pollution, winter and melanin

The supplement industry produces many Vitamin D supplements, but synthetic forms are not the best option, as there are always risks with synthetic products. First try natural sources:

Sunlight: 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight twice a day (in the morning and afternoon) with spf 15 or weaker sunscreen is enough for lighter-skinned individuals, while more pigmented skin may need longer. Do not over-tan or burn! Take cover before your skin gets red, even if it takes less than 15 minutes: swearing off sunscreen altogether is not the solution. The skin is the largest organ in the body and its health should not be compromised.

Fish, Eggs, and Mushrooms: Try salmon! Wild salmon–not farm-raised–has incredible health benefits that include, but are not limited to, Vitamin D. Other sources are egg yolks, other wild-caught fatty fishes (Mackerel, herring, sardines, catfish, tuna), and shitake and other varieties of mushrooms–don’t forget to buy organic!

Natural Oil Supplements: Cod Liver Oil is a great supplement option for Vitamin D because it is not a synthetic.

New research is leaning towards increasing the maximum daily allowance of Vitamin D. However, it is true that one can overdose on Vitamin D because it is a fat-soluble vitamin– if you decide to take synthetic supplements do not be tempted to overdose.

Instead, add foods rich in Vitamin D into your diet and go outside more often. Talk to your doctor about having your Vitamin D levels checked–especially if you are experiencing or being treated for any of the symptoms of deficiency. Many doctors still overlook Vitamin D deficiency as a contributor to disease as the research is still fairly new.

Do you have any experience with Vitamin D deficiency? Please share your stories and comments! Do you have any questions? Feel free to comment or email me at


Holick MF. Vitamin D and sunlight: Strategies for cancer prevention and other health benefits. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2008;3:1548-1554.

Radford, DC. DC, MS Vitamin D Deficiency in a Musculoskeletal Practice, American Chiropractic Association September, 2010

~ by danclaps on July 19, 2012.

17 Responses to “The Underrated Vitamin”

  1. I’ve recently learned that I was deficient in vitamin D and was told to supplement at 5000 mg (or IU) per day to bring my levels back up. It really is an important vitamin.

    • Thanks for sharing! Vitamin D is incredibly important. With such stunning consequences, it is tragic many overlook Vitamin D deficiency. I’m happy for you that you discovered it and are treating it! I am sure you will feel healthier for it.

  2. i have experienced increase in energy when I suppliment Vit D and my mind seems more clear.

    • Thanks for commenting and sharing! That makes sense. Vitamin D has so many important functions, if you are not normally getting enough you will feel much better when you do provide your body with the Vitamin D it needs.

  3. Perhaps there is some thing not right with the site? The images on the topmost look a little messed up. Nice blog post nevertheless, continue the great work you are doing here!

    • Thanks for commenting, though I am unsure what you are referring to; is it the “D” picture on this post or the banner across the top?

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  7. great post

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  9. […] HOWEVER, Vitamin D deficiency and Iron deficiency are both on the rise in the U.S.–and these are only the deficiencies most studied at the moment. Don’t be afraid to ask for a test. Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintTumblrPinterestLinkedInStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  10. […] Take what you learn and address it. For the Olympians, the main problems they see are low vitamin D and low iron. Depending on your situation these may not be a problem for you. Educate yourself using […]

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