The “Sunshine” Vitamin Could Save Your Life: Are You Getting Enough?

You wear sunscreen, right?  So you’re protected from skin cancer, great!  But what about the vitamin D that is also blocked with that SPF 100 Sunscreen?  You may not think it matters, but vitamin D, also known as the “Sunshine Vitamin”, is critical to the body’s immune function, strong bones to prevent osteoporosis, and it may even help you lose weight!  If you’re not taking a vitamin supplement, or specifically a vitamin D supplement, you could be putting yourself at risk for many serious health conditions.  Just one example is a broken hip, which in an elderly person, can severely limit their independence.  The problem with getting enough vitamin D is that it is very hard to do with diet alone even if you are trying to eat right.  And you may not be able to tell if you’re not getting enough.  A simple blood test to measure the levels of vitamins and minerals in your system, the MicroNutrient test, includes the test for vitamin D and is a good place to start.

Most people are aware that calcium is necessary for bone strength, but calcium needs vitamin D for the body to properly process it.  The kidneys convert vitamin D in its active form which controls calcium and phosphate levels in the body.  A lack of vitamin D has long been associated with rickets, a very serious disease in which bone tissue doesn’t properly mineralize, leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities.  Recent research has shown that low levels of vitamin D, less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), has been associated with cognitive impairment in older adults, increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, severe asthma in children, and cancer.

Beyond too little sunshine, there are many reasons that you could be deficient in this critical vitamin.  Those with dark skin, those who are obese, those with kidney problems which would prevent the conversion of vitamin D to the active form, those who have had gastric bypass surgery which may prevent your intestines from absorbing the vitamin or those who follow a strict vegetarian diet should get their vitamin D levels checked to determine if supplements are appropriate.  Although vitamin D is available in some foods, most of them animal based, such as fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese and beef liver, it is very difficult to get enough through these foods.

Although the link between vitamin D and weight loss isn’t clear, a study funded by The National Institutes of Health, the University of Minnesota, and the Pennock Family Endowment at the University of Minnesota found that women who had low levels of vitamin D and increased their intake before starting a low calorie diet lost more weight than those who did not increase their vitamin D.    Higher levels of vitamin D (both the precursor and the active form) predicted greater loss of abdominal fat.  Of course, the flip side of this is that starting on a diet but not getting enough vitamin D could inhibit or imped your ability to lose weight.  If you’re going to go to the trouble of going on a diet, why bother if it’s not going to show a big weight loss payoff?

The best test for evaluating vitamin D levels in the blood, the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test, is offered at ANY LAB TEST NOW® locations and is quick and simple.  Because a deficiency in vitamin D is usually not noticeable or has very subtle symptoms, a test may be the only notification you get.  Guidelines from the Institute of Medicine call for raising the recommended dietary allowance from 600 IU (International Units) to 700 IU for those over 70 to optimize bone health.  If you have any risk factors or minimize your exposure to the sun, you should consider getting tested and talk with your doctor about supplementing your diet with vitamin D.   Your body, your bone, your mind and your belly may all thank you.

Vitamin D Deficiency Addressed Again

vitamin D pillsThere has been an annoyingly large amount of back and forth over whether we should be taking large amounts of vitamin D to compensate for unrecognized deficiencies of the critical mineral.  First, most of us weren’t getting enough, then we were so, don’t worry and don’t take too much.  A new study has recommended screenings, specifically of the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, not the active levels, for specific groups that are at risk of severe vitamin D deficiencies.  These groups include the obese, those with malabsorption issues, african americans and pregnant/lactating women.

The study, conducted at the Boston University School of Medicine, includes new guidelines for screenings for levels of vitamin D that should be that should be present in the blood.  Generally a level of 30 ng/mL has been considered acceptable, but the recommendation is that clinicians should aim for a target level of between 40-60 ng/mL.  Many feel that the guidelines of 400 IU daily of vitamin for children and young adults and 600 IU for adults through the age of 70 is conservative because so many people are deficient and don’t realize it.  Regardless of the current guidelines, getting tested to check your level and making sure you are getting the minimum couldn’t hurt.  Obviously, the medical community is still battling this one out and we still don’t have a clear answer.  Until they figure it out, don’t sit around and assume you’re OK.  You’re the one who cares the most about your health so it’s up to you to be sure you’re getting the nutrients you need.


Vitamin D’s Critical Link to Belly Fat

Are you one of the millions of Americans who struggles to lose weight, but is stuck and the weight is just hanging on, especially around your middle?  You’re not the only one.  Studies in exercising have shown us the unfortunate results that you may not be able to eliminate that spare tire no matter how many crunches you do.  There is evidence that one way to eliminate belly fat specifically is to increase your intake of vitamin D.  Not only is a thinner waist every overweight person’s dream, it is also much better for your health.

Research conducted at the Medical College of Georgia on 650 teens showed that those with a higher intake of vitamin D had lower overall body fat and lower amounts of fat in the abdomen.  Abdominal body fat has been linked to a higher risk of some diseases.  For women, a waist size above 35 inches and for men, a waist above 40 inches is linked to insulin resistance increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.  When you have insulin resistance, your blood is flooded with glucose, which increases your risk for diabetes. It also fills it with other molecules that promote heart-clogging blood clots.

In the absence of the active form of vitamin D both adipose (fat) and cancer cells are allowed to multiply relatively unchecked.  With a sufficient amount of vitamin D however, fat cells are signaled to shrink, making weight loss much easier when calories are restricted and keeping cancer cell growth in check.  With so many of us trying to lose weight, we are working against ourselves by not providing our bodies with one of the major tools necessary to reach our weight loss goals.  Because there is less sun in the winter and we spend less time outdoors it is even more difficult to get enough vitamin D, which may explain winter weight gain.

ANY LAB TEST NOW® offers the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test which measures the level of active vitamin D in your body.  This lets you know if you have the enough vitamin D circulating in your body to start losing weight and, specifically, losing it from your middle.    There is hope for eliminating disease and preventing obesity and it may be as simple as popping a vitamin D supplement before you launch your weight loss program.  Take the right steps now and your body will thank you.

Are You Feeding Your Body the Right Nutrients?

It’s March already!  How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?  Are you still sticking to them or have you fallen off the wagon?  If you are still working hard on them, congratulations!  One thing you may not have considered is how those changes you’ve made are affecting your body.  Of course, losing weight, exercising and eating well should be making you healthier on the inside, but sometimes in the midst of major changes some vitamins and nutrients get lost in the shuffle.  And, if you’ve fallen off the health resolution wagon, you know that you’re probably missing out on some critical nutrients.  How do you know which ones and what to add in?

Vitamin deficiencies have been indicated in many health problems.  Vitamin, mineral or antioxidant deficiencies can suppress your immune system function and contribute to chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 

Dieting can be tricky because you may stop eating things that make you gain weight, but that provide valuable vitamins.  Did you give up on goodies like cheese, sour cream, or milk?  Have you been supplementing your vitamin D and calcium intake to make up for the lack of dairy products?  Have you cut out carbs?  You could be low on folic acid.  What about exercising?  No issues there with nutrients, right?  Wrong!  Exercising a lot will deplete your protein and vitamin B12 stores.  Taking a vitamin supplement is a good start but it may not be enough to provide your body with the right things in the right amounts.

Wellness tests can identify where your body is low on vitamins and minerals so that you can target your supplement intake to meet your specific needs.  ANY LAB TEST NOW® provides several tests to pinpoint nutrient deficiencies.  The MicroNutrient test evaluates your body’s ability to absorb 32 minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other essential nutrients within your white blood cells.  The easy-to-read test results show your results for each of these nutrients and what the recommended level is so that you know which to focus on.

A Vitamin D test highlights this critical vitamin important to bone strength, the prevention of certain cancers and cardiovascular disease.  There are many reasons that someone can be deficient in vitamin D beyond diet such as not getting enough sun and wearing sunscreen all the time, having darker skin or being obese.  Vitamin D, also called the sunshine vitamin, helps to maintain cognitive abilities and bone density in older adults and a deficiency can be easy to miss.

The Nutritional Panel is another test that can provide valuable information on additional aspects of your nutrition including information about your blood count, your iron levels and a chemistry panel to measure additional components such as your glucose, electrolyte, protein and enzyme levels.  Any of these could be off, causing liver or kidney issues, fatigue and a number of other symptoms that are difficult to diagnose.

Even people who are trying to do the right thing for their bodies by exercising, eating right, and quitting smoking can be lacking in the right nutrients.  Everyone’s body is different and other factors like stress, amount of sleep you are getting, and how much time you spend outdoors contribute to your body’s ability to absorb and utilize vitamins and minerals, whether you feel it or not.  Contact ANY LAB TEST NOW® and take that extra step to stay on the healthy track, or to get back on it!