Get some sun! No, I don’t mean go get a tan. I mean go outside and soak up some Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). The sun provides us with this vitamin that is not only beneficial, but necessary to cell, bone, and muscle health (and it’s also beneficial to our immune system). We all need Vitamin D3, but if you have a thyroid condition, it is crucial that you are getting enough.
You’re probably heading out the door right now to soak up that sun (or what’s left of it seeing as we’re in winter), but before you leave you should know that it may take more than just a few minutes in the sun, especially if you have an autoimmune disease (such as Hashimotos). As many of you may or may not know, when you have Hashimotos you can have other conditions that include GI disorders, VDR (vitamin D receptors) polymorphisms (this affects the activation of the VDR and lowers the activity of vitamin D), inflammation, and other conditions that can affect the absorption of Vitamin D. I’m sure your thinking, “Well, what does that mean for me and how can I get more Vitamin D3?” Simply put, if you have Hashimotos or a thyroid condition, you’ll probably need more Vitamin D than the average person and there are various ways to increase your intake.
Before you explore your options to increase your Vitamin D3 levels, you’ll probably want to know exactly where your levels are right now and what they should be. One of the best ways to determine your levels is by doing a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. According to most labs the reference range will be between 20ng/mL to 50ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter). Depending on your doctor and condition, they may want to see it a little higher.
Now that you know why you should have Vitamin D and how much, you need to know how to get it, right? One way to absorb Vitamin D3 is through exposing the skin to sunlight (preferably at midday when the sun is most intense). The more skin showing, the better. It can take as little as 15 minutes or as long as 2 hours (depending on skin-tone) for the body to produce about 10,000-25,000 IU of Vitamin D3.
We know that not everyone can take advantage of the sunshine so you can always increase your intake of foods that are high in Vitamin D. The most common foods that contain Vitamin D3 are beef, sardines, butter, sour cream, fortified milk, and mushrooms. And if you don’t seem to be eating very many of these foods or just aren’t getting enough of the vitamin, there are also Vitamin D supplements available in many forms such as drops, chewables, and capsules that can be found at your local drug store.
While you’re out looking for that Vitamin D you may want to consider buying Vitamin K, as well. Vitamin K is necessary for normal blood clotting, as well as healthy bones and brain function. Although Vitamin K is good on its own, it also helps the absorption of Vitamin D. You can get Vitamin K in various foods including watercress, thyme, asparagus, kale, and collard greens. Again, if you don’t eat enough of these foods to get the recommended amount of Vitamin K (at least 90mcg), you can always get a supplement (preferably one that has both Vitamin D and K).