Vitamin D is a hormone. It is not a vitamin.

Vitamin D affects many of the body’s critical functions, and studies suggest at least 64 percent of Americans are deficient, which can contribute to Type 2 diabetes, infection, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, low testosterone and even cancer.

A recent study in the Netherlands suggests that, for individuals 55 and older, deficiency in this vitamin (or hormone) may increase the likelihood of having difficulty performing daily activities. The results of the study are more about correlation than causation, but still worthy of consideration.

The skin is responsible for producing Vitamin D. You can get it from the sun, but in a northern climate, you would need to spend a lot of time outside in the middle of the day with no sunscreen and lots of skin exposed.

Very few get this kind of sun exposure, so we take supplements.

Here are some things we know about your Vitamin D levels.

  • Reduces blood pressure in African Americans
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Helps seniors live longer
  • Protects against heart attacks and strokes
  • Prevents brain and memory decline
  • Eases symptoms of muscular sclerosis

Melanin Matters

It has been known for years that darker skin needs more time in the sun than lighter skin. Melanin, responsible for skin pigmentation, is protective against the sun’s rays. But it also affects the skin’s ability to produce Vitamin D from the sun. Individuals with darker complexions can improve their health in many ways by taking an inexpensive, over-the-counter supplement.

Vitamin D Toxicity

Too much D can be toxic, so supplementation should be monitored. And the simplest way to monitor your Vitamin D levels is with an affordable blood test. Or add it to a wellness panel.