In the hectic world we live in today, it is not unusual to sometimes feel like you are running on empty, especially on a busy day when you have so much to accomplish with limited time.
You can sometimes feel weak, fatigued and lacking the energy to keep going ahead at full speed, if you are lacking sleep, skipping meals or recovering from flu or illnesses. But if you constantly feel weary and exhausted even on a light day – the cause of lingering fatigue could be vitamin deficiency including iron, vitamin B, and most crucially – vitamin D.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because the ultraviolet rays convert the cholesterol in our skin into vitamin D3. It has long been known to increase the body’s calcium and phosphorous absorption to help build and maintain strong bones, reduce inflammation, modulate cell growth, hormone, neuromuscular and immune functions.
Deficiency is mainly caused by insufficient exposure to sunlight and is actually very common, especially amongst the elderly. In fact, it is a global health issue with an estimated 1 billion people worldwide suffering from low levels of the vitamin. Vitamin D deficiency is common amongst the population, even though most people fail to realise that they are deficient because of the subtlety of general symptoms such as bone, muscle and joint pains, low energy and tiredness – which are sometimes similar to how you feel when you have the flu or lacking sleep.
Studies show that almost 10% of the human genome may be regulated by vitamin D. Knowing your genetic blueprint can help identify the variables and establish if the main cause of your long term lethargy and low energy levels are primarily because you are genetically prone to vitamin D deficiency.
A DNA test will cover the genes of interest for growth; such as CYP2R1, NADSYN1 and GC.
CYP2R1 is associated with vitamin D conversion, while NADSYN1 is associated with cell signalling and GC is associated with Vitamin D transportation. From the variant profile of your three genes, your risk to vitamin D deficiency can be estimated.
Once vitamin D passes into our bloodstream and goes through our liver and kidneys, it undergoes enzymatic conversion, converting it into metabolites which function like hormones. These metabolites are what vitamin D tests measure, to determine whether or not you have a deficiency.
The recommended vitamin D form is vitamin D3, which your body makes naturally from sunlight. For general good health, your vitamin D level should be between 30-40 ng/ml. Although it can also be found in certain foods such as fatty fish and fortified dairy products, getting the levels the body requires from diet alone is often insufficient.
The amount of vitamin D your body can make depends on several variables. Susceptibility is higher if you are overweight or obese, elderly, have darker skin, always indoors or live in the northern hemisphere with limited exposure to sunlight, with a diet lacking in fish or dairy. The body’s low testosterone levels is also linked to low vitamin D levels.
Even though vitamin D is stored in the liver, it can also be absorbed by fatty tissues because it is fat-soluble – which prevents it from being put to good use in other parts of the body.
Inadequate vitamin D intake for adults is associated to increased vulnerability to infections, depression, fatigue, insomnia, fertility disorders, general body lethargy and weakness. Restoring your levels can help prevent health problems and leave you feeling and functioning better in your daily life. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to increase vitamin D levels.
Sources suggest that 10 to 20 minutes daily in direct sunlight, is enough to absorb enough vitamin D for adults. In fact, sun-derived vitamin D may circulate for twice as long as vitamin D from food or supplements.
Among the richest natural food sources of vitamin D is fatty fish like wild salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, sardines and anchovies. Mushrooms are the only completely plant-based source of vitamin D. Like humans, mushrooms make their own vitamin D from exposure to UV light. Humans produce a form of vitamin D known as D3 or cholecalciferol, whereas mushrooms produce D2 or ergocalciferol. Wild mushrooms usually contain more vitamin D than commercially grown ones.
Egg yolks are another source of vitamin D that you can easily add to your routine. Free-range and pastured eggs are a great source of vitamin D, as chickens with access to sunlight produce more vitamin D in their eggs.
Our diet should include sources of vitamin and food components which act synergistically to promote vitamin D absorption for the body to benefit from vitamin D intake. It’s also important to get enough of the other vitamins and minerals that help your body absorb and utilise vitamin D. As such, you should increase co-factor nutrients such as boron, vitamin K, zinc and vitamin A.
Boron is an element found naturally in leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach. It can also be found in grains, prunes, raisins, non-citrus fruits, and nuts. A person’s daily diet typically contains 1.5 to 3 milligrams (mg) of boron with the most common sources such as almonds, apples, hazelnuts, dates and avocados.
Vitamin K is found in vegetables such as basil, kale, spinach, scallions, Brussel sprouts and asparagus. Meanwhile, zinc is found in oysters, crab, beef, lobster and baked beans. Foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, butternut, apricots and romaine lettuce are rich in vitamin A.
A good vitamin D3 supplememt is spirulina which has been widely hailed as the most nutrient dense natural whole food. Elken Spirulina is a superfood source densely packed with over 60 types of nutrients from the 5 major nutrient groups (protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, and fat). It is perfect to complement regular meals and ensure we meet all our daily Vitamin D requirements.