We’ve been hearing a lot in the press about vitamin D lately. You probably know it plays an important role in bone health because it facilitates calcium absorption. Vitamin D also impacts heart health, immune health, mood, normal healthy blood sugar. And new research also supports that Vitamin D plays a role in bladder health.
When we take in vitamin D from food, supplements or sun, it is inert and it must undergo two different reactions in our bodies in order to become active. During this process a metabolic product known as calcitrol is formed; calcitrol is believed to target more than 2000 genes, or almost a tenth of all human genes. Maybe now you can see why vitamin D is so important to our health!
Vitamin D is actually not really a vitamin: it’s a group of prohormones. Vitamin D2 (or ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) are the two main forms. Because vitamin D is fat soluble, meaning it will only be absorbed and processed in the presence of fat, it can be stored in our fat cells, which means that even though we must eat it or get it from sunshine, our bodies are able to store excesses to draw upon them in time of need.
But unfortunately, most of us do not eat enough (or eat enough in combination with the fat and co-factors needed for it to be processed), and we no longer spend time in the sunshine unprotected with sunscreen. That’s why experts now say that most of us have insufficient levels of vitamin D and that increasing our levels may be one of the most important things we can do to improve our health. In addition to immune health, bone health, heart health and cancer prevention, Vitamin D also plays a role in pelvic floor health and healthy bladder control.
Vitamin D Levels Impact on Pelvic Floor Health and Bladder Control
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that span the pelvis in our body. They help to keep these muscles in the correct position. With age, or due to trauma or childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak and contribute to the sagging of organs or even to occasional leakage of urine.
One study from the State University of New York in Syracuse showed that higher levels of vitamin D were associated with fewer incidences of pelvic floor disorders. Another study of non-pregnant women over age 20 who participated in the 2005-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that of the 1881 women included, 23 percent reported from pelvic floor issues, and the study indicated that low levels of vitamin D could be to blame.
In addition to its benefits for the bones, Vitamin D may also help with muscle strength — including the muscles in the pelvic floor and bladder control.
How Much Vitamin D Do I need?
Unfortunately this is a very individual question and one that can only really be answered by having your vitamin D levels checked with a test known as a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also known as a 25(OH)D. It’s typically done in annual blood test work and is usually covered by insurance; if you haven’t had it checked, you definitely should ask your doctor about having it done.
Acceptable results used to fall in the 50 nmol/L or nano-moles per liter but now experts are saying ideal levels are much higher and that results should be at least 75 nmol/L. According to The Vitamin D Council, below 100 nmol/L, the body uses vitamin D up as quickly as it is created. At between 100 and 125 nmol/L, some people begin to store vitamin D, but others do not. At 125 nmol/L, virtually everyone begins to store excess vitamin D in fat and muscle tissue, which is a good thing.
Currently the Vitamin D Council considers numbers below 125 to indicate “chronic substrate starvation” and recommends a range of 125-200 nmol/L. Until you get tested, you can follow the guidelines that the darker your skin, the bigger you are and the less daily sunshine you receive, the more you will need. As an estimate, most people will need at least 35 IUs of vitamin D a day per pound of body weight. This is just an estimate and not a substitute for testing, as many of us may need much more based on our genetics and our absorption.
In order to use vitamin D effectively, we also need cofactors such as zinc, boron, vitamin K2, genestein, magnesium and a small amount of vitamin A. Many of us are magnesium deficient since we do not consume calcium and magnesium in equal amounts; instead we take in way more calcium than we do magnesium. If you are magnesium deficient, then you won’t process vitamin D effectively so you may need to supplement with magnesium as well.
If you purchase a prescription vitamin D product, you will receive vitamin D2, which has not been shown to be as effective in the body. It is not expensive and it could improve your health in many areas including the health of your bladder. Targeted nutritional support is important to help strengthen and support the pelvic floor and bladder muscles. Integrate Vitamin D3 and BetterMAN or BetterWOMAN into your daily regimen.
To your health, and be defensive.