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What is Vitamin D?
Did you know that Vitamin D is not really a vitamin? In actuality, it’s a steroid, with hormone like qualities. D helps to synchronize the tasks of at least 200 genes that we know of, while playing a major role in our physical advancement. The majority of D comes from the sun: our skin absorbs ultraviolet rays, which is then converted into D. Scant amounts of D can also be absorbed into the body through what we eat.
How Does it Work?
Vitamin D comes in two forms; D2 and D3. D3 is synthesized through the skin via the sun. D2 is converted through what we ingest orally. When D is absorbed into the body, it is sent to the liver, which converts it into a chemical called 25(OH)D. The 25(OH)D is then distributed throughout your body so that various tissues can convert it into a hormone known as active Vitamin D (calcitriol). After the conversion, D helps to regulate the calcium in your bloodstream, bones, and digestive system. It also helps cells communicate in a more organized fashion.
How Does it Help?
1- Through D’s management and distribution of Calcium, it is crucial to maintaining healthy bones. In fact, both rickets and osteoporosis are linked to Vitamin D deficiencies.
2- While scientific research hasn’t conclusively proven that D can bolster the immune system, scientists feel that there is enough evidence to indicate that it may help in improving autoimmune functions that are compromised. While Vitamin D may not prevent infections such as influenza, it has been proven that it does impact T-cells, thus supporting the inflammatory process which helps us to recover in due time.
3- D can also help with Diabetes. Sufficient D levels can help with insulin secretion, as well as glucose tolerance.
4- Sufficient D levels may also reduce the risk of childhood diseases such as asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema.
5- Vitamin D can help women get through a healthy pregnancy. Healthy levels help to reduce the risk of preclampsia, gestational diabetes, and vaginal bacteriosis.
6- D can also help cancer patients, by slowing growth of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue. This can result in cancer cell death, or at the least, the retardation of cancer cell growth.
7- Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, depression, as well as many autoimmune diseases.
How Much do I need?
While no two persons have the same requirements, it is recommended that between 400 to 800 IU be taken daily to keep healthy levels of 25(HO)D in your bloodstream. However, this amount may not be sufficient for everyone and can vary based on regular exposure to sunshine, obesity levels, age, skin color, health, etc. While D is stored in fat, overdosing on D has not really been an issue. You would have to take over 50,000 IU a day for a prolonged period of time, which could result in a toxic build up of calcium and phosphates in the blood stream.
If you’re a person with issues of severe deficiency due to health conditions, you may need to take as much as 3,000-10,000 IU per day to reach sufficient levels of Vitamin D, like myself and Michelle, who are at opposite ends of these ranges. As always, I caution everyone to consult with their healthcare team before starting any supplement. A blood test will reveal the level of 25(HO)D that exists, and your doctor should know based on that testing what amount is right for you. Once you’re taking D, it’s a good idea to retest your levels periodically to make necessary adjustments.
Where can I find D?
The sun is the best way to get it. As little as 30 minutes of exposure to 40% percent of your skin can produce as much as 90% percent of D needed to maintain healthy bones and cells. However, exposure to much needed D producing UV rays can be inhibited by climate, season, and skin color. Exposure can also be limited by how much one is actually able to get out doors! Vitamin D is also found in fish, cod liver oil, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk, orange juice and yogurt, as well as beef liver and fortified cereals. Supplements are also a good way to build up D intake: In fact, I take a D supplement which has worked well in maintaining my 25(HO)D levels in my bloodstream. So far, every blood test given to me has resulted in sufficient levels of active vitamin D.
If you decide to supplement D, here are some of our tried and true organic, Non-GMO and soy-free favorites from Amazon arranged by potency:
- Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3 10 mcg (400 IU)
- Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 1000 IU
- Bronson Vitamin D3 2000 IU Certified Organic Vitamin D Supplement
- Bronson High Potency Vitamin D3 5000 IU Certified Organic Vitamin D Supplement
- Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 5,000 IU for Healthy Bones, Teeth, Heart and Immune Support
- Bronson High Potency Vitamin D3 10,000 IU Certified Organic Vitamin D Supplement
- Superior Source Extra Strength D3, 10,000 IU, Sublingual
Vitamin D is necessary for healthy living. It promotes bone growth. It facilitates communication in over 200 cells. It a mainstay for a healthy pregnancy, as well as a healthy childhood. It may help to stave off or slow major diseases such as Diabetes or Cancer. It will even vacuum your floor! Alright, that last claim is fictitious: However, Vitamin D will assist in maintaining strong healthy bones, which will allow you to run your vacuum cleaner without snapping a femur or tibia :). Many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency. Please get your blood levels tested. You may find that your 25(HO)D levels are low, and that Vitamin D may be exactly what you need to up your health and wellness game!
- Naeem, Zahid. “Vitamin D Deficiency- An Ignored Epidemic.” International Journal of Health Sciences.
- Ware, Megan. “What Are the Health Benefits of Vitamin D?” Medical News Today.
- Gruber-Bzura, Beata M. “Vitamin D and Influenza-Prevention or Therapy?” International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
- NIH. “Vitamin D Fact Sheet.”
- Vitamin D Council. “Testing for Vitamin D.”
- Harvard TH Chan School of Health. “The Nutrition Source: Vitamin D.”
David Curtis lives in Florence, KY with his wife Michelle, Rocket the Russian Blue cat and his many fish. David manages the health and beauty department of a prominent retail chain, in addition to caring for his wife, pets and home. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, exploring history, watching football, sci-fi, fantasy or comic book shows and film, along with fighting for truth, justice, and the human condition. Much like Tyrion Lannister, he also drinks (coffee) and knows things.