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If you don’t take a vitamin D supplement, maybe you should, according to Dr. Fauci.

During a Sept 10th interview on Instagram Live, he recommended that those deficient in vitamin D should start taking supplements. “If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements.”

But how do you know if you’re deficient? And how much should you take?

Good questions! But the answers are a little complicated. We’ll get to that in a minute. 

First, let’s take a look at why vitamin D is so important. 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in building and maintaining muscle and overall bone health. According to the NIH, people who have low vitamin D may develop soft and brittle bones. Muscles need it to move. Nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part. And the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D is found in cells throughout the body.

There’s also the fact that researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine found a link between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of infection of Covid-19 — those with an untreated deficiency were more likely to test positive, according to the study published in September.

Now, figuring out whether or not you are vitamin D deficient and how much of the supplement you need to take is tricky.

According to a study published in 2014 by the NIH, researchers estimated that 35% of adults and nearly 50% of infants in the U.S. had a vitamin D deficiency. 

Experts warn that early signs of vitamin D deficiency are subtle if they are even there at all.

According to Dr. Raman Madan, a dermatologist at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital, vitamin D deficiency can cause accelerated skin aging and dry skin. And over time, severe deficiency can result in muscle weakness and bone fractures, says Paul Thomas, a registered dietitian nutritionist and scientific consultant at the NIHealth’s Office of Dietary Supplements. Prolonged deficiency can lead to bone-related diseases in adults and children alike. 

Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure if you are vitamin D deficient is to get a blood test through your doctor, says Thomas. However, not all medical professionals think routine testing for vitamin D is a good idea, so it might take some persistence on your part.

But why is it so complicated?

Medical professionals can’t seem to agree on who should routinely get tested.

The National Endocrine Society (NES) and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), for example, recommend vitamin D testing be limited to specific patients such as those at risk for weakened bones or with certain chronic conditions. One of the criticisms of routine vitamin D testing is that it can be time-consuming and costly for insurance companies. According to Kaiser Health News, out-of-pocket costs for vitamin D tests could range from $40 to $225.  Typically, most vitamin D tests are covered by health insurance.

The bottom line is that to truly know if you have a deficiency is to get a blood test. That said, should you feel that you need supplements, talk to your doctor about it. It’s a good conversation to have. Moreover, we’re always glad to discuss your levels with you and recommend lifestyle and supplementation options to get you into that optimal range.

Of course, you can add vitamin D to your diet by consuming mushrooms, milk, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Getting plenty of direct sunlight is also an excellent way to absorb some D. With Autumn here, it’s a beautiful time of year to get outside and take a walk.

If those methods still aren’t getting your levels high enough, we have excellent supplementation options.

Getting enough vitamin D is vitally important for your overall health, especially in these (you know what’s next…) “uncertain” times. One thing you can be certain about is that we are always here to help you be as healthy as possible.