This past week I worked on a health immersion hosted by Whole Foods for it’s employees. Whole Foods is the only company in the country that provides it’s employees with an opportunity to turn their lives around in a week-long immersion of seriously healthy food and self-care practices.

How totally cool is that? Can you imagine the nationwide savings on healthcare if just 10% of companies did this for their employees?!

Loving the sun!

This immersion came at just the right time for me – talk about needing some sun, sea and sand!

Since January I’ve been going non-stop! So I recently decided to do some blood work to check my hormone levels. I think it was more of an attempt on my part to confirm my suspicions rather than find out what was wrong.

One of the biggest shockers for me was my pitifully low Vitamin D levels. The average range is 32-100 ng/ml (nanogram/milliliter) and I was scraping by with a 22! Yikes, major problem!

In fact, many alternative and naturopathic doctors consider this average range to be incorrect. They suggest an optimal range of 50-100 instead, and recommend getting your levels to at least 50. So, as you can imagine, I was immediately on a mission!

You can get your Vitamin D levels checked by taking this at home Vitamin D Test from Lets Get Checked.  Use code Hormones20 to get 20% off the test.

I started to do some research and found some really interesting studies on how Vitamin D impacts our periods:

  • The Yale University School of Medicine did a study with 67 women suffering from infertility. Only 7 % of the study participants had normal vitamin D levels!  The rest had either insufficient levels or an actual clinical deficiency. In fact, almost 40% of the participants had clinical vitamin D deficiencies. 
  • A recent study on women with PCOS found that Vitamin D deficiency seems to be linked to the condition. After vitamin D supplementation, absent and/or irregular menstrual cycles began to normalize and dysfunctional uterine bleeding stopped in the majority of participants.  
  • A study by scientists at the University of Massachusetts found that a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help control some emotional symptoms of PMS, such as anxiety, irritability and tearfulness. This is because it helps boost estrogen and progesterone levels in women. 

This is why I’ve dubbed Vitamin D the “period vitamin.”

It is clearly connected to our reproductive health and there are distinct conditions that seem to be related to its deficiency. PCOS, Infertility and PMS are epidemic in the modern world. A coincidence? Probably not. And guys, you are affected too:

In men, vitamin D is essential for the healthy development of sperm and it helps maintain semen quality and sperm count. Vitamin D also increases testosterone levels, which boosts libido.

I also learned that vitamin D is not really a fat-soluble vitamin but rather a pre-hormone. The reason for this is because vitamin D acts more like a hormone in the body – it is the only vitamin that the body can manufacture.

Where and how do you get enough vitamin D?

  • Well, the first thing I suggest you do is get tested to confirm your vitamin D levels using a 25(OH)D test, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Ask your doctor for this test as it is the most accurate one available.
  • The best way to get vitamin D is through sun exposure. You should expose your face, hands and arms to the sun, three or more times a week, for 10-20 minutes, depending on your skin, the season, and the distance from the Equator. The best time of day for this is between 10am-2pm. Most importantly, this exposure to the sun should be without sunscreen, as sunscreen interferes with the production of Vitamin D. 
  • In addition, you can supplement. Most health experts recommend getting between 2000IU and 5000IU a day depending on the severity of the deficiency. Some other practitioners recommend a much higher dose a day in order to actually move your levels to where they need to be.
  • My recommendation is to work with a skilled practitioner who can retest you three months after you begin supplementing. You may also want to follow the Vitamin D Council’s recommendation: If you are deficient, then they recommend 1000IU per 25lbs of body weight daily. If you weigh 125lbs, you’ll take 5000IU a day.
    • Make sure if you buy supplements that they contain vitamin D3 and not D2 which actually does not raise blood levels of vitamin D. In addition, vitamin K2 is needed to optimize calcium absorption into the bones instead of depositing it into the lining of the blood vessels. T So your supplement should contain K2 or you should eat fermented foods that are rich in K2, like natto.
    • If you choose to supplement, I recommend Seeking Health Vitamin D3 a+ K2 Liquid and Seeking Health Vitamin D3 + K2 Capsules.