Arms Up, Eyes In, Big Kicks!
It’s officially SUMMER. Other parents be jealous: on the longest day of the year my daughter was in bed at 6:34 pm. Even though the sun was shining (very) brightly into her room, the girl was knocked out, mouth wide open. That’s because when I’m not at the office, I’m at my in law’s pool acting as their Pool Boy and supervising while Vivi swims until exhaustion. Summer for the Kriegels means lots, and lots, and lots of sun. Summer 2020 will go down as the summer Vivi learned to swim and Casper lived his best life on his very own Party Island. Unfortunately, the great state of Iowa doesn’t allow vitamin D intakes like this all year round, so... Can I ask you a few questions...
How much of your day do you spend outside, in the sun, without sunscreen?
Have you ever had your vitamin D level tested?
What would you say if your dentist (me) asked what your most recent vitamin D test results showed?
You’re probably wondering…
Aren’t you supposed to protect yourself from the sun?
What should my vitamin D level even be?
What does any of this have to do with my dental health?
And if you’renotwondering those things,I’ll spare you the two minutes it will take you to read the rest of this email.Delete and move on, no offense taken, promise.
Vitamin D is an extremely important vitamin for bone metabolism, our immune systems, and our overall health. It is estimated that 50-70% of the population is low in vitamin D, most likely due to increasing numbers of indoor jobs and the way our culture has taught us to fear the sun. Nearly every cell in our body has a vitamin D receptor, showing how incredibly important this little guy is to true health. Vitamin D has been linked to a number of health issues including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, alopecia, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, rickets, and even dental implant failure. I think we are only touching the tip of the iceberg as far as understanding how much vitamin D and all the roles it plays.
Sunscreen: isn’t all it's cracked up to be. Did you know your body actually cannot produce vitamin D when you slather yourself in the greasy mess that we deem essential for summertime fun? It is estimated that an SPF 30 sunscreen will reduce your skin’s ability to make Vitamin D by 97.5%. Yes, protection from the sun has been ingrained in our brain as the only way to experience the outdoors safely. And, I wonder if lately we are questioning everything we seem to have known for a reason. I'm certainly not telling you to skip sunscreen, I’m simply suggesting you experience a few minutes a day SANS lotion in order to let your body soak in the sun. And when you crack into the SPF...do your homework and choose one wisely! Personally, I opt for no sunscreen and throw on a breathable shirt instead.
Your vitamin D level, like anything else is subjective. There are many factors that can affect it, and what constitutes adequate levels is still debated among many expert groups. Collectively, the data seems to show a level upwards of 40-60ng/ml is great and what many of us should shoot for. Some experts have even said 60-100 ng/ml is completely safe.
The higher your vitamin D levels, the better your bone is able to heal (think implants and surgeries.) This is due to vitamin D’s role in our body, helping us absorb calcium from our diets and, with its partner vitamin K2, taking that calcium where it needs to go...our bones and teeth! There is an overwhelming amount of recent research showing low vitamin D levels causing dental implants to fail due to how integral it is to bone metabolism and the immune system. One study showed a 300% higher chance of early dental implant failure when low vitamin D levels were present! Not a risk I want any of my patients to take.
For those of you, like myself, that like to nerd out on things like this, I recommend a nifty little free app I heard about when listening to one of the world’s most prominent vitamin D researchers Dr. Michael Holick. It is called D Minder, and will calculate in real time your vitamin D production based on your location, the sun’s angle, the amount of skin you have exposed. Check it out, it is really cool!
Here are a few resources for those of you that want to learn more, as adequate vitamin D is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health as well as the health of the ones you love.
We all would gain a lot if we followed the wise words of Viv’s amazing swim instructor, “Arms up, eyes in, big kicks!!!” Stay positive, stay focused, and remember to live in the moments, not for them.
Cheers, Dr. Kriegel