What if I told you that the daily use of sunshine or a simple supplement could add years to your life? And life to your years? I have been a seeker of the answers to health for my entire adult life. Sharing what I’ve discovered and learned about nutrition has been a blessing for me. But the vitamin D deficiency story may be the most impactful of almost anything I have learned since 1979.
Research confirms the incredible power of vitamin D with hundreds of reliable studies.
One of the most common health problems today, globally, is vitamin D deficiency. Over a billion people worldwide are deficient or insufficient in vitamin D.
Approximately 40% of U.S. adults and 61% of the elderly are lacking in this critical nutrient. (2). This very important micronutrient is responsible for a myriad of roles within the body. And without it we are at an increased risk for developing varying health challenges.
In this article you will learn the role of vitamin D in the body. How vitamin D deficiency can impact serious diseases. (Alzheimer’s, dementia, immune dysfunction, aching muscles, brain health, sweaty head, hair loss, dizziness, reduced cognitive function, depression, bone issues, heart disease, cancer, and a dozen other issues.) And you will also learn how to address and optimize this life saving nutrient.
The Role of Vitamin D
Vitamin D differs from other vitamins in that our bodies can produce it on its own from exposure to the sunlight’s UVB rays. It is vital for calcium balance and maintaining bone integrity. It is a fat-soluble micro-nutrient.
Once absorbed in the skin, vitamin D3 converts to a storage form known as 25-hydroxy vitamin-D. Often measured on labs as 25OHD. It’s then converted to a more active form by the kidneys (even immune cells to help with infection) called 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin-D. This second more active form of vitamin D is more like a pro-hormone and becomes a master regulator of cell function.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the proper functioning of musculoskeletal, immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems. (3). It has shown to have profound influences on modulating inflammation through several immune pathways. But, in the 21st century, processed foods, fast foods, high sugar diets, sedentary lifestyles and spending too much time indoors has accounted for many deficiencies worldwide. Pharmaceutical drugs often can lower our vitamin D levels. Poor gut health may inhibit the absorption of vitamin D from foods or supplements. And lastly, most of us get very little sun on a daily basis and if we do we are using sunscreens.
So many people in this country have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to heart disease and/or cancer. After all, these are the number one and two killers in the United States. But, they’re not the most feared of age related diseases. There is a disease that people fear more than both heart disease and cancer and that disease is Alzheimer’s. It kills more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. There are millions today currently living with Alzheimer’s disease and 1 in 3 seniors with Alzheimer’s will die as a result of the disease. (1).
Dementia is the progressive decline of brain function due to chronic inflammation and disease within the brain. Vitamin D has shown to help protect against brain deterioration. It is also considered a neurosteroid hormone that regulates neurotransmitters and increases nerve growth factor which further promotes brain health. (4). Vitamin D has anti inflammatory, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.
Amyloid beta plaque is a hallmark characteristic of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. And vitamin D has the ability to reduce amyloid-B plaque build-up. Studies found that vitamin D levels are very low in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment compared to healthy adults. (5).
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. Vitamin D has received special attention for its potential role in preventing heart disease. Several studies propose that individuals with low serum vitamin D levels have an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes. (6). The active form of vitamin D (1, 25-dihydroxyvitaminD) binds to cell receptors that regulate a multitude of genes for basic processes relevant to heart disease. There are many pathways within heart cells that respond favorably to vitamin D for proper cardiovascular function. Deficiencies with vitamin D3 impair blood sugar regulation, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. Based on the information, there is a plausible role for vitamin D in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance.
A vitamin D deficiency is often a common denominator in many cancer patients. Sadly, many doctors will tell you to stay out of the sun and if you do go out to slather on chemical laden sunscreen that is actually a contributor to cancer development with all it’s nasty carcinogenic ingredients such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone!
Researchers found that vitamin D lowers C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a measure of inflammation in the body. (7). CRP elevates when there is inflammation in the body. And chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many conditions including heart disease and cancer. High levels of chronic inflammation is strongly correlated with most chronic diseases of aging. Yet traditional medicine generally ignores this blood value. I advise and utilize for myself a low inflammation diet along with the proper supplements to keep my C-reactive protein low in blood testing.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent malignancy among US women today. Research indicates an increased risk of breast cancer occurrence with vitamin D deficiency. (8). Vitamin D3 has exhibits the ability to inhibit cell proliferation, activate apoptosis (programmed cell death), inhibit angiogenesis of tumors and decrease metastatic potential! Vitamin D seems to universally lower risk for nearly all cancers.
So, get some sun, but don’t become a lobster of course! Nutrition World offers a wide variety of suntan lotions that are 100% chemical free. Also be sure to back it up with quality supplements of vitamin D taken every single day with foods containing fat if needed.
To read more about non-toxic sunscreen and skincare, click here. Also, you can shop for your non-toxic sunscreen needs right here at Nutrition World!
How to Optimize Your Vitamin D
We never want to guess what our Vitamin D3 levels are and that is why we test them. On blood panels, Vitamin D3 is measured in the serum as 25OHD (25-hydroxyvitaminD). There are some important considerations when taking Vitamin D3 to boost levels that vary among individuals due to several demographic and biological factors:
Baseline vitamin D3 status
Status of cofactors such as: Magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2, vitamin C and omega-3s which aids utilization of the D
Ethnicity and skin color
Body fat percentage
Seasonal variations and time of sun exposure
Malabsorption of fats from the GI tract due to leaky gut, IBS/IBD and/or Celiac disease
Nutrition World offers blood testing every Tuesday from 8am to 11am and the last Friday of each month. This is the only way to determine your levels of vitamin D as guessing can often be far off the numbers. Testing is the only way to determine proper lifetime dosage.
Another wonderful tool is the DMINDER app that is available on both GooglePlay and the Apple App store. This will help you determine the best times to get outdoors for optimal sun UVB exposure based on your geographic location.
The sun is by far the ultimate source of vitamin D, and dminder allows you to optimize levels based on your location, body type, and time of day, all while making sure you stay safe by warning you of any risk to your skin getting burned. Generally, 20-30 minutes in the sun is ideal per day for optimal sun exposure. But I have seen very tanned individuals who still had worrisome low levels of Vitamin D.
Test & Retest
Please keep in mind that testing and retesting is recommended to track 25OHD levels when supplementing with vitamin D3.
In a preliminary analysis, GrassrootsHealth found that individuals who do not take supplemental magnesium need, on average, 146% more vitamin D to achieve a blood level of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L), compared to those who take at least 400 mg of magnesium per day.
Grassroots Health created a great calculator to use as an aide to help with dosage. It can be found here.
To access a full array of science and information for those who seek the deep dive into the science and details of vitamin D and health, go here.
The ideal range for optimal vitamin D3 levels is between 60-80 ng/mL. Know that health professionals who are not well versed in the literature on vitamin D will not recommend achieving higher levels. So find someone who is up on the state of the art science. Along with the sun, I recommend quality supplements taken with food with fat to ensure levels.
Vitamin D Supplementation Is an Insurance Policy
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that influences your entire body. It is an essential nutrient that supports your immune system, brain, central nervous system, lung function, heart health, bones and teeth and quicker recovery from viral infections.
Unfortunately, roughly 40% of the US and a billion people worldwide have a vitamin d deficiency. This increases the risk of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular, cognitive impairment, hypertension, depression/anxiety and other complications. Vitamin D levels also predict the outcome of lung health issues. We are meant to spend time in the sun. Yet a great majority of folks remain indoors exposing themselves to too much blue light from artificial lighting. And this is a major reason for our declining health. (10).
I encourage everyone to do two things for the health of yourself and your family. Spend a safe amount of time in the sun when you can. And supplement with between 2000iu to 5000iu of quality vitamin D with breakfast. But make sure you take the D with food that has some fat in it. But if your levels are not high enough, consider supplementing with more as needed. Check with your health professional if you are being treated for medical conditions before beginning any new supplements.
Vitamin D could be considered one of the best insurance policies against many of our dreaded health concerns. We must assist our bodies with the proper and wise lifestyle, foods and supplements. We all contain a natural pharmacy within us so never forget the power for self healing that we hold within.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this article is intended for treatment of any disease.