Not only is our melanin beautiful, it also helps block out the sun’s damaging UV rays. This means less skin damage and less premature aging! This is great, right?
Well, while our extra protection is amazing, our melanin does reduce our body’s ability to synthesize Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D production is largely dependent on your amount of sun exposure and your skin's ability to absorb UVB rays. (1) As a result, it is estimated that up to 76% of people of color are Vitamin D deficient. (2)
Vitamin D Deficiency
There are many factors that increase your risk of a Vitamin D deficiency. (3) For example:
- Having darker, melanin-rich skin inhibits your body’s ability to convert sunlight into Vitamin D.
- Being overweight increases the amount of fat cells you have, which block your body from releasing and utilizing Vitamin D.
- Kidney and liver disease reduce the enzyme needed for your body to convert and utilize Vitamin D.
- The use of medications like laxatives, steroids, cholesterol-lowering drugs and weight loss medications lower Vitamin D levels in the body.
- Celiac disease and Crohn's disease can limit your body’s ability to absorb Vitamin D from food and supplements.
So what should you look out for? Common symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include fatigue, mood changes, depression, anxiety and muscle weakness. However, these could be symptoms of a deficiency or another underlying health issue. So if you believe you have a deficiency, speak with your healthcare provider.
Benefits of Vitamin D
- Vitamin D promotes strong bones and teeth by helping the body absorb calcium. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with weak bones, osteoporosis, and increased cavities.
- Vitamin D helps build and maintain a healthy immune system. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with increased risk of infection and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Low levels are also associated with more severe cases of COVID-19 and respiratory distress.
- Vitamin D supports cardiovascular and pulmonary health. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with increased risk of heart disease, hypertension and stroke.
- Vitamin D helps regulate mood and energy levels, and helps reduce the risk of depression. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with more severe symptoms of anxiety, depression and fibromyalgia.
- Vitamin D may support weight management and weight loss. Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with an increased risk of obesity.
Foods Sources of Vitamin D
With all that being said, don’t panic! Even though we likely don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun, there are ways to improve your levels. One way is to Increase your intake of Vitamin D through foods like:
- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish
- Dairy products like yogurt and swiss cheese
- Vitamin fortified foods like orange juice and cereal
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
- Cod liver oil
Vitamin D Supplements
In addition to eating a diet rich in Vitamin D, it is important to supplement your nutritional needs with a high quality multivitamin.
There are two forms of Vitamin D supplements - Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. (6) Vitamin D2 is cheaper to produce and is often found in fortified foods and low quality supplements. Vitamin D3 is the bioavailable form of Vitamin D that your body produces from the sun, and is the best at preventing and treating a deficiency.
But that’s not all! There are several sources of Vitamin D3 supplements. The most common source is lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool and is not vegan. The other source of Vitamin D3 is from algae. The Vitamin D3 from algae is just as effective as that derived from lanolin, but is sustainably sourced, non-GMO and vegan.
The Mela Method
Here at mela, we only use Vitamin D3 from algae! Our Daily Essentials contain 60mcg of vegan Vitamin D3 from algae, which is more Vitamin D than other leading multivitamins on the market. We believe that you shouldn’t have to pay for a multivitamin and a Vitamin D supplement to meet your nutritional needs. Tell the other companies not to @ us!