What Is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin, but instead a hormone that our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight. We also get it from foods like fatty fish and fish oils, egg yolks, as well as fortified foods like dairy and juice—and also from supplements. Unfortunately, many people do not maintain healthy levels of Vitamin D and nearly 50% of children and adults have a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is important to mental and physical function because it absorbs calcium and phosphorous, and contributes to bone health. Low Vitamin D may be associated with serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. Those with sufficient levels of Vitamin D are better protected from the same diseases.
Negative Sleep Effects of Low Vitamin D
Vitamin D has a diverse range of functions and can help many body processes to properly regulate. Vitamin D regulates gene expression for inflammation in your body. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that Vitamin D reduces the expression of the ReIB gene, which has been implicated in the development of inflammation (1). Sleep apnea has also been associated with high expression of the ReIB gene, thus by getting sufficient Vitamin D, ReIB expression can be limited, allowing less inflammation and less likelihood of sleep apnea (2).
Control Your Vitamin D Levels
The easiest way to increase your Vitamin D levels is to get into the sun. Though sun is not always available based on time of the year and day, Vitamin D can be increased through eating fatty fish like salmon, tuna, swordfish, and sardines as well. It is important to note that Vitamin D3 is the optimal form of D and D2 doesn’t promote the same benefits as D3.
Dminder is an app that helps track the amount of sun you need to get for optimal Vitamin D. The app takes into account your current Vitamin D levels, location, and skin type then sends you notifications helping you to know how much sun you need, when the best times to go outside are, and also protects you from sun burns. Click on the Sun to Download Dminder!
Diet is important because it can raise your Vitamin D levels and Vitamin D receptors. The brain, heart, digestive tract and reproductive system have a high number Vitamin D receptors that allow Vitamin D to attach and promote its numerous health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphane, which is a chemical that helps you use Vitamin D. The following are good options to help promote Vitamin D in your diet.
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin D supplements are also available, however, some supplements use Vitamin D2 instead of Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 comes from plants and research has found that it is not as effective as Vitamin D3 (4). The supplement to the right is our recommended D3 supplement for low Vitamin D levels.
Do I Have a Vitamin ‘D’eficiency?
The easiest way to find out your Vitamin D levels is to have your physician perform a blood test. If you are low, consult with your doctor and set up a plan that includes diet, sun exposure, and supplements, to return you to a normal level. Maintaining Vitamin D levels is important for overall health but especially sleep.
1.) Dong, X., Craig, T., Xing, N., Bachman, L. A., Paya, C. V., Weih, F., … & Griffin, M. D. (2003). Direct Transcriptional Regulation of RelB by 1α, 25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 and Its Analogs PHYSIOLOGIC AND THERAPEUTIC IMPLICATIONS FOR DENDRITIC CELL FUNCTION. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 278(49), 49378-49385
2.) Israel, L. P., Benharoch, D., Gopas, J., & Goldbart, A. D. (2013). A Pro-Inflammatory Role for Nuclear Factor Kappa B in Childhood Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome. Sleep, 36(12), 1947.
3.) Shapiro, T. A., Fahey, J. W., Wade, K. L., Stephenson, K. K., & Talalay, P. (2001). Chemoprotective glucosinolates and isothiocyanates of broccoli sprouts metabolism and excretion in humans. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 10(5), 501-508.
4.) Houghton, L. A., & Vieth, R. (2006). The case against ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) as a vitamin supplement. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84(4), 694-697.