Vitamin D

What you need to know:

Caucasian skin produces approximately 10,000 IU vitamin D in response to 20–30 minutes summer sun exposure—50 times more than the US government’s recommendation of 400 IU per day! While Vitamin D comes from the sun, and is the optimum source, we are not absorbing enough sunlight daily to get enough. Vitamin D also occurs in some food sources but not in quantities to meet daily needs.

This high rate of natural production of vitamin D3 cholecalciferol (pronounced koh·luh·kal·sif·uh·rawl) in the skin is the single most important fact every person should know about vitamin D—a fact that has profound implications for the natural human condition.

Technically not a “vitamin,” vitamin D is in a class by itself. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a hormone that is the key that unlocks binding sites on the human genome. The human genome contains more than 2,700 binding sites for calcitriol; those binding sites are near genes involved in virtually every known major disease of humans.

Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease, and more. Three cancers Vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with are breast, colon and prostate. Over 53% of the population is deficient and research is showing us that optimal levels are higher than ever thought.

Vitamin D’s influence on key biological functions vital to one’s health and well-being mandates that vitamin D no longer be ignored neither by the health care industry nor by individuals striving to achieve and maintain a greater state of health. Vitamin D is especially important in pregnancy for the developing fetus.

To find out what your vitamin D level is to start with, you should have your vitamin D checked with a blood test. Blood levels of Vitamin D are not routinely checked although many physicians are starting to add this to their yearly lab workup during annual physicals. If treatment is required, a supplement will be recommended. It is important that you take your supplement with a fatty meal, as Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin and cannot be absorbed properly without the accompanying fat. After treatment to bring your level up (3-6 months), you should be rechecked and then find the dosage of vitamin D you need to take to maintain a level between 50-80 ng.

Vitamin D has co-factors that the body needs in order to utilize vitamin D properly. They are:

  • magnesium

  • zinc

  • vitamin K

  • boron

Magnesium is the most important of these co-factors. In fact, it is common for rising vitamin D levels to exacerbate an underlying magnesium deficiency. If one is having problems supplementing with vitamin D, a magnesium deficiency could be the reason why.

For more information, check out The Vitamin D Solution, by Michael F. Holick, PhD, MD, professor at Boston University School of Medicine. Also,

Food Sources for the Vitamin D co-factors above:

Magnesium – artichokes, pearled barley, oat bran, buckwheat & whole wheat flours, nuts, beans, spinach, tomato paste, cornmeal, salmon

Zinc – oysters, wheat germ, sesame seeds & tahini, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, peanuts, liver, beef tenderloin, lamb

Vitamin K – green, leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, chard, etc.), brussel sprouts, broccoli, romaine lettuce, asparagus, green beans

Boron – apples, pears, grapes, avocadoes, nuts, beans, wine

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