Throughout this wellness series we have been talking about the genome centric lifestyle and what nutrients our bodies require to maintain its self-healing and self-regulating properties. Most the nutrients that our body needs can be found in the foods that we eat, however, over the years we have become deficient in three key essential nutrients Omega-3’s, Vitamin D and probiotics.
What is Vitamin D and where to get it
In this blog, we are going to specifically look at Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a hormone produced in the body via exposure to Ultraviolet B radiation and cannot be produced by the body without exposure to the sun. According to research, well over half of the population is deficient in Vitamin D. Even those in sunny climates rarely get enough sun exposure due to clothing and sunscreen. In this case, quality Vitamin D supplementation is recommended.
Supplementing Vitamin D
As said above, the best source of Vitamin D is from the sun. Vitamin D is naturally found in very few foods and can be fortified in some. If not getting Vitamin D from natural sources it is best to look into quality supplementation. Like all supplements, be sure you know your source and read the ingredients – the less the better. The product we have in our office is made of two ingredients: Vitamin D and olive oil. The difference between capsules and oil is not much when it come to what is in the product, however, sublingual drops have a more effective absorption rate into the body. I usually recommend the sublingual drops for my patients for this reason.
The roles of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is crucial in virtually every human function including: growth and development, brain and nerve function, emotions and behavior, maintenance and repair of skin and bones, regulation of healing and inflammation, cholesterol levels, digestion, heart function, immune function, vision, vitamin production, digestive system function, cardiovascular health, etc.
How much Vitamin D does one need?
This can be a tricky question and it all depends on how much sun exposure one is getting. The Vitamin D Council recommends that healthy adults take 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily — more if they get little or no sun exposure. There’s evidence that people with a high amounts of body fat need more vitamin D than lean people. I recommend to my patients that during the winter months to be taking around 4,000 – 6,000 IUs daily and even more depending on size and symptoms. In the late spring, summer and early fall, I recommend that the best way to get Vitamin D is to be in the sun midday without sunscreen for 20 minutes in a swimming suit (for proper skin exposure) and for young kids 10 minutes. This will give enough daily Vitamin D. After the 10 or 20 minutes is up, please put on sunscreen. If someone is not comfortable going out into the sun for that amount of time without sunscreen, then that is perfectly fine, however, this person will need to continue supplementing at the recommended dose. The great thing about Vitamin D is it is very hard to overdose, so although one must be aware of how much they are taking, small to moderate amounts of Vitamin D are perfectly fine.
Preventing disease with Vitamin D
According to the Vitamin D Council, conditions associated with Vitamin D deficiency include:
- cardiovascular disease
- diabetes and other endocrine diseases
- infections and autoimmune disorders
- mental health
- learning disorders
- musculoskeletal disorders
- neurological disorders including autism and multiple sclerosis
- dental caries and periodontal disease
- respiratory diseases such as asthma and allergies
- skin disorders
- low fertility in women and men
- PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
This is the short list of disease that can be linked and attributed to Vitamin D deficiency.
Depression, pain and autoimmune
Signs of Vitamin D deficiency are different from person to person but most include altered moods and/or depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, chronic illness, frequent infections. The active 1,25(OH)2D form of vitamin D is a potent modulator of inflammation, and may play a role in turning off chronic inflammatory response. (Liu, 2018) Knowing this, Vitamin D should be recommended for anyone and everyone, but especially clients with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or chronic musculoskeletal pain. Stewart Leavitt, Ph.D. states that “some researchers have found that vitamin D deficiency occurs in up to 85% of chronic musculoskeletal pain cases, especially those involving the lower back” (Faraj, 2003, 177).
Vitamin D-sensitive cancers are responsible for 257,000 deaths in 2007 – 46% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2007 according to Jemal A, et al. (2007) Colon cancer could be reduced by 50% with vitamin D levels maintained above 34ng/ml and breast cancer could be reduced by 50% with vitamin D levels maintained at 52ng/ml (n.p.).
Just because cancer runs in your family, doesn’t mean you can’t try to prevent it. It all goes back to the principles of epigentics – we can determine the expression of a gene via our environment.
Cold and flu prevention
In study performed by Aloia, J et al., taking 800 IU/day of Vitamin D reduced the incidence of cold/flu by 70%, and decreased incidences of cold/flu by almost 100% for those taking only 2.000IU/day of Vitamin D. In children taking 1,200IU/day of Vitamin D during the winter time, 67% were less likely to contract Type A influenza. (Aloia, 2007, n.p.)
Pregnancy and infants
Women should most definitely be supplementing Vitamin D especially during pregnancy. Vitamin D does not pass the placental barrier well, so it is even more important that the mother be sufficient in Vitamin D. Pregnant women who are sufficient, not only help the direct health of their child, but they also have lower rates of preterm labor, preterm birth and infection, with the greatest effects being when women take 4,000IU daily. (Hollis, 2011, n.p.)
A challenge to the medical community
This blog barely skims the surface on the important and necessity of Vitamin D. As stated in this blog and in the research over and over again, people are dying because of a lack of knowledge on how this simple Vitamin can not only change their lives, but save their lives.
I challenge every MD, DC, DO, ND, PA, NP and every other health care abbreviation I missed to recommend vitamin D to each and every one of our clients. It is our responsibility as health care practitioners to give our clients the resources they need in order to give them the best chance of having a long, quality life.
Al Faraj S, Al Mutairi K. Vitamin D Deficiency and chronic low back pain in Saudi Arabia. Spine 2003; 28: 177-179.
Aloia, J et al. Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiology and Infection 2007, Vol 135 (7) pp. 1095-1098
Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Wong JB, et al. Fracture prevention with vitamin D supplementation:a meta- analysis of randomized controlled trials. JAMA 2005; 293: 2257-2264. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5685053/
Boxer RS, Dauser RA, Walsh SJ, et al. The association between vitamin D and inflammation with the 6- minute walk and frailty in patients with heart failure. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2008;56:454-461.
Cannell et al. 2008 Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic. Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 117 (11) : 864-870
Glerup H, Mikkelsen K, Poulsen L, et at. Hypovitaminosis D myopathy without biochemical signs of osteomalacic bone involvement. Calcif Tissue Int. 2000;66 419-424.
Hollis, Bruce, et al. Vitamin D Supplementation during Pregnancy Part 2 NICHD/CTSA Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT): Outcomes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183324/
Jemal A, et al. Cancer statistics, 2007. Ca Cancer J. Clin. 2007 Jan- Feb; (1) : 43-66.
Lee P, Chen R. Vitamin D as an analgesic for patients with type 2 diabetes and neuropathic pain. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168 (7): 771-772.
Liu, Wei, et al. The Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Vitamin D in Tumorigenesis. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Sep; 19(9): 2736.
Munger, KL, Levin Kl, Hollis BW, et al. Serum 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels and risk of multiple sclerosis. JAMA 2006;296: 2832-2838.
Pedersen LB, et al. 1, 25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 reverses experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis by inhibiting chemokine synthesis and monocyte trafficking. J Neurosci Res 2007; 85: 2480-2490.
Richards, JB et al. Higher serum Vitamin D concentrations are associated with leukocyte telomere length in women. Am J. Clin Nutr 2007 Nov; 86 (5): 1420-5
Stewart Leavitt, Ph. D. Vitamin D – A Neglected ‘Analgesic’ for Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain. Pain Treatment Topics June 2008
Von Essen, MR et al. Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and activation of human T cells. Nature Immunology 2010, 11, 344-349