Vitamin D: Are You Getting Enough?

Image by Lyuba Burakova / Stocksy

Vitamin D is critically important for the development, growth, and maintenance of a healthy body. It's actually a prohormone, and it activates hundreds of genes that promote health and reduce your risk of getting chronic diseases.

Vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to UVB light. On average, getting 15 minutes of sunlight at least a couple of times a week, will keep your vitamin D levels in a normal range.

Phytoplankton, zooplankton, and algae have the capacity to produce Vitamin D. However, most animal and plant foods we consume do not contain vitamin D. Sunlight is the natural way of getting our vitamin D.

What are the health benefits of vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays a fundamental role in optimizing the body’s internal environment in order to prevent illness. It can also be used therapeutically to support healing from hundreds of diseases, including:

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes and endocrine diseases
  • Blood diseases
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Musculoskeletal conditions
  • Neurological conditions
  • Skin disorders

Are you Vitamin D deficient?

Most Americans, even if they live in sunny locations, do not have an optimal level of vitamin D. If you want to find out if you are deficient, a simple blood test for calcidiol, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Calcidiol is the main storage form of vitamin D and best represents your levels. The active form of the vitamin, calcitriol, is made from calcidiol in the kidneys and other organs. It is the most potent steroid hormone in the body, activating hundreds of genes to promote health.

Your calcidiol, vitamin D3 levels should be between 50-100, with above 80 ideal. At these levels, you will really see the benefits of vitamin D.

How much vitamin D should I take?

The answer depends on your vitamin D levels, but on average, 5,000IU a day is a typical dose. The Vitamin D Council recommends 5,000 IU daily because the body uses 1-3,000 IU of vitamin D each day, so if you wanted to increase your vitamin D levels, you must take more.

I also recommend getting at least 15 minutes of sunscreen-free sunlight around mid-day (between 12-1pm is commonly when solar-noon occurs). Take your lunch break outside, enjoy the warm rays, and feel relief and a more centered mind.

If you live in a cold climate, it is even more important to supplement with vitamin D. I recommend sublingual, liquid vitamin D to enhance absorption.

A note on Vitamin K2

If you are supplementing with vitamin D, you must also ensure adequate intake of vitamin K2, at least 200mg. Vitamin K2 transports vitamin D and calcium around in the body, prevents calcification of blood vessels (especially when supplementing with calcium), and is critical for balanced bone health, oral health and overall wellness.

High quality, homemade fermented vegetables and grass-fed animal products are the best sources of vitamin K2. If supplementing, take the MK7 variety instead of MK4 to ensure natural sources and a high quality product.

What can I do to increase the absorption and effectiveness of vitamin D?

Nutrients act in a synergistic way in the body, working together to maintain health. Absorption and metabolism of a particular nutrient can be affected by other nutrients available to the body, depending on their levels and what biochemical reactions that nutrient is involved in.

In order to receive the most health benefits from vitamin D, you need to also have the right levels of the cofactors. Magnesium is probably the most important and also most commonly deficient.

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin K2
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Boron

It is also worth noting that calcium is absorbed better when paired with vitamin D.

What about vitamin D toxicity?

Vitamin D toxicity occurs when there is an elevated amount of calcidiol in the blood stream, generally noted as above 200-250 ng/mL. The risk of toxicity exists only for supplemental vitamin D.

There is no risk of overdosing on vitamin D from sun exposure because the body has a naturally built-in mechanism to prevent toxicity. But when you ingest vitamin D, that safety mechanism does not apply, and you can over-expose yourself.

If you do find your levels to be above 100 ng/mL, stop supplementing with vitamin D or calcium, drink plenty of water and boost liver function, exercise, and in time your levels will decline and normalize.

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