by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies plaguing both men and women in the 21st century. In addition to poor immune system health, this vitamin deficiency can also contribute to the development of mental illness. Many confused and frustrated patients find themselves becoming dependent on antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotics when they may only need a simple vitamin.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
One of the most commonly-overlooked causes of mental illness is vitamin deficiency, especially vitamin D3 deficiency. These primary mental health problems include depression, seasonal affective disorder, and schizophrenia.
According to an article published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, these mental health risks may begin in the womb. The study assessed 424 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and 424 controls. The resulting data concluded that infants whose vitamin D3 levels were too low or too high were much more likely to develop schizophrenia that those with optimal levels.
Another study published in Clinical Rheumatology connected vitamin D deficiency to depression and anxiety in fibromyalgia patients. Over 50 percent of fibromyalgia patients who also reported mental health symptoms were found to be vitamin D deficient.
Physical symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include muscle weakness, chronic colds and flu, diabetes, allergies, asthma, psoriasis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. The prevailing belief behind the development of these illnesses is the close connection between optimal vitamin D3 levels and the immune system.
There is also evidence that men and women with vitamin D deficiency may also be at increased risk for the development of osteoporosis. It was recently discovered that actress Gwyneth Paltrow developed osteopenia (a precursor of osteoporosis) due to her extremely low vitamin D levels. No matter how much calcium you take, your body cannot properly absorb and synthesize it without vitamin D.
Men struggling with erectile dysfunction may owe their problem to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D contains a metabolic called calcitriol, a secsteroid hormone responsible for proper testosterone production. Studies have shown the higher the vitamin D levels in a man’s blood, the higher his testosterone level. This doesn’t mean you need to run out and overdose on the stuff but if you’re a man concerned about his sexual health, adding a vitamin D3 supplement to your diet may be all you need to get your love life back on track!
Why Vitamin Deficiency is So Prevalent in Our Culture
Vitamin D deficiency is so prevalent in our culture for two very important reasons:
- We’ve been taught to fear sunlight and to shun it all costs
Fair-skinned people are especially afraid to venture out into the sun. This is because they’ve been taught their whole lives that even just a small amount of sun can lead to skin cancer. Nothing could be further from the truth. Slathering on gobs of chemical-laden SPF 50 is more likely to cause skin cancer than taking in some sun in small doses each day.
This doesn’t mean I recommend lying out unprotected until your skin turns to leather but even the fairest person can get at least five to ten minutes of sun exposure each day without burning. I also recommend that when using sunscreen, you choose an organic, natural variety without chemical additives.
- We do not get enough vitamin D through our food due to poor diet and malabsorption of nutrients
The Standard American Diet consists of processed food, convenience meals, and fast food. It’s no wonder incidents of diabetes, cancer, and obesity are on the rise. Most people simply do not get enough vitamin D from their food because they’re not eating the right types of food. Also, digestive disorders such as acid reflux disease, celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease can contribute to permanent malabsorption of nutrients. This means even if the diet is healthy, the body simply cannot absorb enough of the vitamins from the food they eat. This is where supplements come in.
Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D3
I recommend a serum blood level of 40-100 ng/ml. That means 40 to 100 nanograms per milliliter of blood. According to these generally accepted levels, approximately 85% of the American population is deficient in vitamin D3!
Your vitamin D levels can be tested by your doctor. If you’re suffering from a physical or mental illness that makes leaving your home difficult, you can choose to test your vitamin levels at home with our Vitamin D, 25 Hydroxy test kit. This test will give you accurate results in 3-5 business days with no fasting required.
Raise Vitamin D3 Levels
One of the easiest ways to raise your vitamin D3 levels is to get some unprotected sunshine at least three times per week. Our bodies produce about 10,000-20,000 I.U. of vitamin D3 after only about 15-20 minutes of sun exposure on our face, arms or legs. You don’t have to be in a swimsuit to gain the benefits! Early morning or afternoon sun is best for sun-sensitive and fair-skinned individuals.
There are certain foods that contain a high amount of natural vitamin D. These foods include wild-caught oily fish such as cod, herring, salmon, trout, sardines, and halibut as well as mushrooms, spinach, and potatoes (in small amounts).
For adult patients with a serious vitamin D3 deficiency, I recommend Diamond Nutritional’s 5,000 I.U. natural capsules. Each small capsule is easy to swallow and contains the recommended daily dose so there’s no need to remember to take a second pill. Diamond Nutritional’s vitamins are hypoallergenic and completely free of yeast, gluten, soy, sugar, starch, and artificial flavorings.
The health benefits of adding a regular vitamin D3 supplement to your diet are many. You’ll lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and protect and ensure the health growth of your bones. You’ll also stave off diabetes, cancer, and mental illness. It may even improve your love life. If you believe a vitamin D deficiency is causing your symptoms of physical or mental illness, don’t hesitate to test your levels. Knowing the cause of any health problem is the first step to finding its proper treatment.
It is important to note, however, that if you are currently taking a prescription medication for mental illness that you do not suddenly discontinue its use. This can prove to be too much a shock to your system. Always work with a supportive healthcare provider when weaning off psychiatric drugs and replacing them with vitamin supplements.
No matter what type of symptoms you’re dealing with, remember your body has a remarkable ability to heal itself. All you have to do is give it a little help and the rest will fall into place.