VDD (Vitamin D Deficiency, also known as hypovitaminosis D) is a very common issue affecting millions of people around the world.
How do you know if you’re one of them? You don’t need to. Physicians do not recommend routine testing of vitamin D since it’s expensive. Plus it’s quite easy to reach healthy levels of the vitamin by getting daily exposure to sufficient sun or taking a supplement.
Symptoms of VDD include muscle pain and weakness as well as fatigue.
It’s important to treat VDD since in in severe cases it can lead to your bones becoming thin, brittle or misshapen.
But even if you don’t have VDD, there is evidence that it may be beneficial to get more than recommended amounts of the hormone (yes, Vitamin D is actually a hormone, not a true vitamin).
What are some of the health benefits of getting optimal amounts of Vitamin D?
- Live longer
- Prevent fractures and falling in the elderly
- Prevent the Common Cold
- Lower risk of dying from cancer
- Cut asthma exacerbations by more than half
- Improve symptoms of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome), specifically Crohn’s disease
- Improve symptoms of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)
What about sleep… how does Vitamin D, or the lack of it, affect sleep?
Vitamin D Deficiency (VDD) and Sleep Disorders
A meta-analysis of more than 200 studies involving more than 9,000 participants was conducted to test whether there was an association between serum vitamin D (the amount of the vitamin in the blood) and sleep disorders risk.
The results? Participants with vitamin D deficiency had a significantly increased risk of sleep disorders. Specifically, VDD was associated with poor sleep quality, short sleep duration and sleepiness.
Now, does this mean that VDD causes unhealthy sleep? Does it mean that increasing Vitamin D levels can cure sleep disorders?
But since Vitamin D is a good supplement to take regularly anyway (for most people), you should probably ask your doctor if you can do so.
If you do get tested for vitamin D, make sure that your levels are higher than 20 ng/mL since, according to this study, lower levels are associated with increased risk of sleep disorders.
How to Get Enough Vitamin D and Avoid VDD?
The easiest, cheapest way for most people would be to get ample sun exposure, especially during the morning hours.
How much is enough? That depends on the intensity of the sun in your geographical location as well as on your skin tone. Darker skins require longer sun exposure than lighter skins. Between 10 minutes and 2 hours is usually recommended.
However, there are some problems with sun exposure, including skin cancer, skin aging and cataracts, so if you’re going to spend time in the sun make sure to wear a hat and sunglasses. (Definitely stay away from any tanning salons and beds.)
Because of these problems, Vitamin D supplements may be a better alternative (and the only alternative for people who live in places where the sun is not strong enough to cause production of Vitamin D in the skin.)
Vitamin D Supplements
The optimal dose of vitamin D is 2,000 units a day, while official recommendations range from 5 IU (in Australia and New Zealand) to 600 IU (in Canada and the US).
For people who are overweight, the recommended dose is 3,000 IU. For obese people, the number is even higher.
People older than 70 should take 3,500 IU.
Crohn’s disease sufferers need about 5,000 IU per day.
Of course, you should NEVER take any supplement without consulting with your doctor FIRST.
Take your daily vitamin D dose together with the largest meal of the day.
D2 or D3?
While Vitamin D2 is typically derived from fungi and yeast, Vitamin D3, which is the type found in most supplements is typically derived from sheep’s wool. Vitamin D3 works better than D2.
What if you’re vegan and don’t want to use a product made of sheep’s wool?
Luckily, there are a few Vitamin D3 supplements that are vegan.
Or just go with the sun.
Vitamin D and Sleep – Conclusion
If you’re not already taking a Vitamin D supplement, then you should consider asking your doctor if it’s OK for you to do so.
Learn more about the factors that can improve your sleep at my Sleep Hygiene Guide.