Are you Vitamin D-deficient?

How to find out if you’re low on Vitamin D (spoiler alert: most people are) and how to achieve the optimal level, naturally.

Vitamin D is well established as an immunity-booster. Vitamin D sufficiency – and daily dosing to achieve adequacy – is proven to reduce respiratory tract infections of all types1. A plethora of scientific studies now show optimal levels of Vitamin D3 is essential in the fight against COVID-19.

But, how do you know if you have the appropriate levels of Vitamin D?

The chances are you’re not.

Vitamin D3 is produced when sunlight hits your exposed, sunscreen-free skin. As most Hong Kongers attend work or school during the day, or are indoors between 11-3pm, Vitamin D deficiency is a proven challenge. Research show 72% of Hong Kong residents aged 18-26 years are Vitamin D-deficient. Blood levels above 30ng/mL is considered the optimal level (depending on multiple factors); young adults had an average level of 13ng/mLii. This sub-optimal level adversely affects immune function and comorbidity risks.

In fact, Vitamin D insufficiency is a worldwide epidemic, according to a consensus statement from the 13th Workshop on Vitamin D. The studies show that the elderly are the most deficient in Vitamin D3 and tend to experience more severe COVID-19 symptoms, which suggests the two facts are linkediii.

Lots of hours during the day spent indoors, slathering sunscreen on your skin when you do go out, and nutrient-poor foods can leave you deficient in Vitamin D3 all year round. If you happen to be a sun lover, it is possible to achieve sufficient levels of Vitamin D3 to see you through the winter (you’ll need a blood level of over 60 ng/mL at the end of the sunny months), however, very few achieve this.

In the coming winter months – when you need approximately 45 minutes of exposure to the sun on the arms, legs, face, and hands every second day to achieve optimal levels of Vitamin D3 – getting enough sunlight becomes even more challenging, leaving you more susceptible to viruses, flus and colds.

At IMI, our clinical observations concur with the plethora of studies on Vitamin D-deficiency. Low Vitamin D3 levels are found in those with recurrent respiratory tract infections. In initial blood tests, most of our clients had sub-optimal levels of Vitamin D3.

How to increase your Vitamin D3

Ideally, you would have more time with your skin exposed to the sun, but this isn’t always achievable.

Some foods are good sources of Vitamin D3, too. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, and  pharmaceutical-grade cod liver oil, for example, are excellent sources of Vitamin D3. Small amounts of vitamin D are also present in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D [reference]

* IUs = International Units. Daily intake of approximately 1,000IU are needed for sufficient blood levels, but even this amount will not raise the low blood levels commonly found.

But – unless you consume an unusual amount of oily fish products – diet alone cannot provide the levels of Vitamin D your body needs for optimal health. Adults require daily supplementation of 2,000 – 5,000IU (the higher end if obesity is a challenge) for some months to effectively increase the blood level above 30ng/mL, which is when immune function is typically restored. .

At IMI, our goal is to help you to achieve healthy blood levels of 30-50ng/mL not only to protect against COVID-19 but a plethora of viruses and other conditions.

How to find out if you’re Vitamin D deficient

Particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to ensure you have an optimal level of Vitamin D. To confirm your Vitamin D3 levels, we recommend a blood test. If you are deficient, our naturopaths will recommend appropriate supplementation to ensure you achieve the appropriate level of support.

It is best to test, not guess. While an insufficient level of Vitamin D3 can undermine your immunity, too much of this vital nutrient can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and irregular bowel movements.
To learn more about IMI’s pure and potent Vitamin D3 supplements and the recommended dosage for adults and children, click here.

Alternatively, to arrange an in-person, phone or video appointment with one of our naturopaths, please call +852 2523 7121 or contact us here.

i Bergman, Peter et al. “Vitamin D and Respiratory Tract Infections: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” PloS one vol. 8,6 e65835. 19 Jun. 2013, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065835

ii (Wang EW, Pang MY, Siu PM, et al. Vitamin D status and cardiometabolic risk factors in young adults in Hong Kong: associations and implications. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2018;27(1):231-237. doi:10.6133/apjcn.022017.08)

iii Biesalski HK. Vitamin D deficiency and co-morbidities in COVID-19 patients – A fatal relationship?. Nfs Journal. 2020;20:10-21. doi:10.1016/j.nfs.2020.06.001.

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