And, what “health habit” am I referring to here?  Lathering on the sunscreen!  That’s right – all the while you thought you were protecting yourself from skin cancer, you were actually making it much more likely that you would develop a more serious form of cancer (such as breast, colon, or prostate cancer) as well as a host of other ailments.  Why?  Because you were creating a Vitamin D deficiency.

Is Vitamin D actually THAT important?  I have been surprised to learn that it is.  Recently I have been reading through, The Vitamin D Solution, by Michael Holick.  Holick may as well be named “Dr. Vitamin D.”  I doubt that  anyone in the world who is more versed on the subject of Vitamin D than he is.  And, echoing Dr. Eades, Cordain, Wolf, Sisson, etc.  he would suggest that most of us are not receiving adequate Vitamin D intake.

Here is the test that he developed to determine if you are at risk:

  1. I rarely go out in the sun.
  2. I wear sunblock or cover up my skin when I go out in the sun, especially during the summer months or when I am outside in the middle of the day.
  3. My wardrobe typically covers most of my skin, including arms and legs.
  4. I live above 35 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere (north of Atlanta and L.A.)
  5. I live below 35 degrees latitude in the Southern Hemisphere (south of Sydney, Santiago, or Buenos Aires)
  6. I do not take a multivitamin along with a Vitamin D supplement every day.
  7. I do not eat wild, oily fish two to three times a week.
  8. I do not eat a lot of mushrooms.
  9. I drink fewer than ten glasses of fortified milk or orange juice a day.
  10. I am naturally dark-skinned or am of African or Hispanic descent.
  11. I am older than 60.
  12. I am younger than twenty.
  13. I am overweight and carry a considerable amount of extra fat.
  14. When I press firmly on my sternum or shins, I feel pain.
  15. I feel like I have less energy and muscle strength than I should.
  16. I take anti-seizure of AIDS medication.
  17. I take glucocorticoids (prednisone).
  18. I have celiac disease.
  19. I have intestinal disease.
  20. I have had gastric bypass surgery.

If you would say “yes” to a few of those, it is quite likely that you have a Vitamin D deficiency.  You may want to have a blood test to determine if your levels are adequate.  Be sure to request the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test (also called 25 (OH) D test) so that you are tested correctly.

And, just because you are eating right doesn’t mean that your levels are high enough.  I just found out last week that my Vitamin D level is insufficient and for some reason (although I answered “yes” to several of the above questions) I was still surprised.

In the next couple of posts I will share with you the best ways to restore your Vitamin D levels.  Should you take supplements?  Should you sunbathe?  What about tanning beds?  Stay tuned to find out.  🙂

(Photo credit:  Quiz: p. 146 The Vitamin D Solution)

(This post is part of Monday Mania 3/28/11 at