In the pool of growing interest in functional medicine or integrative medicine, we acknowledge the importance of addressing deficiencies to support optimal health. One such vitamin deficiency that receives quite a bit of press is vitamin D. Based on research studies, getting enough vitamin D is a necessity to reduce your risk of chronic diseases and is crucial for your overall health.
Let’s do a quick review of vitamin D:
Vitamin D plays a number of important functions in the body. It is a hormone with receptors found in almost all tissues of the body. Vitamin D is primarily found in food of animal origins. However, one typically only gets about 10% of the recommended daily amount from natural foods (e.g. fatty fish, dairy, egg yolk, etc) because most natural foods are a poor source of vitamin D. The other 90% of vitamin D comes from the sun and is produced in the skin. Approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin D can be produced from spending 30 minutes of full body exposure outside in adequate sun coverage. Serum values of vitamin D are considered sufficient between the ranges of 30 ng/ml to 50 ng/ml and optimal between 50 ng/ml to 80 ng/ml. Benefits of having sufficient or optimal levels of vitamin D include improving immunity, reducing inflammation, strengthening bones, alleviating joint pain and muscle aches, boosting mental health, regulating circadian rhythms to improve sleep patterns, relieve insomnia and reduce the prevalence and effects of seasonal affective disorder.
So how can vitamin D have a link to insomnia?
Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” due to its production being spurred by sun exposure. It is inversely related to melatonin (the sleep hormone) meaning that vitamin D production interrupts the release of melatonin. Vitamin D is an indicator of light and daytime so when you take vitamin D, it decreases levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles by naturally rising in the mid- to late-evening. This also opens to the floor to the time of day that your vitamin D supplement is taken. Based on the aforementioned information, vitamin D supplements are intended to be taken in the morning and not in the evening or anytime before bedtime. Additionally, about 40% of vitamin D intake is from supplementation and being that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin it stays for a while in the body. Once serum concentrations of vitamin D are greater than 100 ng/ml there maybe adverse effects to health which can include insomnia. Some may even begin to experience effects at levels greater than 80 ng/ml. Overall, more vitamin D is not always better.
The best way to determine the exact amount of vitamin D you should take is to get a blood test. Your dose will depend on your existing vitamin D levels and may change based on your specific needs. For additional information contact Balanced Healing of Jacksonville.
Elena Alisma, ND