Why some Sunshine State residents are taking vitamin D

Blood test results reveal deficiency

By Kirstin O’Connor - Reporter/Anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. - It’s often called the sunshine vitamin and has been linked to fighting cancer, bone disease and heart disease, but could vitamin D also help you sleep better?

For most, an afternoon walk around the neighborhood is adequate for absorbing vitamin D. 

In some cases, though, genetic variants can cause people to become deficient in vitamin D.

“In Debra's case, when she came to me, she had chronic inflammation, insomnia,” said Dr. Giselle Leon-Ritch, at Acupuncture and Wellness Therapy in South Florida. 

Debra Kerr, 56, was in a boating accident in 2011 and suffered several broken bones. It took time to heal from her injuries, but years later, she still suffered from overwhelming fatigue.

“This chronic exhaustion never went away, and I thought it was a lot of work and a lot of travel,” Kerr said.

When she went for acupuncture treatment, Leon-Ritch recommended vitamin D supplements.

“My energy is there, I am high energy, I am always on the go,” Kerr said.

Orlando Health registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist Gabrielle Mancella said it is important to understand the effects vitamin D has on the body.

"Vitamin D is actually a fat soluble vitamin and so when we take it, it does have other factors that it requires in order to be activated,” Mancella said.

Because it is fat-soluble, Mancella said vitamin D is stored in our fat cells and can be tapped when our body needs it. And there are serious consequences to taking too much of the supplement.

Some studies have linked overuse of vitamin D to heart, blood vessel and kidney damage.

Ask your doctor before taking an over-the-counter supplement. A simple blood test can reveal a deficiency in vitamin D.

“It does balance out our hormones and makes sure we are being restful, but I wouldn't necessarily say to take it as a sleep supplement or to use it in hopes of it causing more restful sleep,” Mancella said. 

Mancella recommended magnesium as an alternative for patients searching for a sleep supplement. 

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