Vitamin D 101
We are so connected to nature, the universe, to one another - that everything we need to thrive comes from those sources. We can’t forget that and get stuck sitting inside behind a screen for most of our lives. We can recharge our physical, energetic, and spiritual bodies through being together with loved ones, spending time moving outside, and getting a rainbow of nutrition from plant-based food.
One vital example of this connectivity with our health, is simply how important sunshine is. From our bone health, to skin health, to immune health - the Vitamin D we get from sunlight exposure is required for our organ systems. About 10% comes from food, and about 90% comes from being in sunlight. On a vegan diet, it can be difficult to get adequate Vitamin D, which is why I take my supplements, High D3 and Ultimate D!
So what exactly is Vitamin D? What does it do in our bodies? What is the best way to optimize absorption? How much do we need? I’m going to dive into all of the interesting facts and new studies, below!
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble steroid hormones primarily produced in the skin in response to UVB radiation from sunlight. When the UVB rays hit your skin, they interact with 7-Dehydrocholesterol that converts it into Vitamin D3. Did you know Vitamin D3 is not a usable form for our bodies? Your liver has to convert that D3 into a new compound 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Then once it goes through your bloodstream and into your kidneys - a healthy functioning kidney will convert that into calcitriol. That calcitriol is the ultimate form of “Vitamin D” that your body needs. It is especially important for calcium absorption, treating bone disease, and hyperparathyroidism.
Do you see how important healthy kidney and liver function are to getting the Vitamin D benefits your body needs? Make sure you’re getting enough water daily and eating a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet to keep these two organs functioning optimally.
Interesting Studies around Vitamin D Deficiency :
The known effects of Vitamin D previous to several exciting new studies include osteoporosis, and other bone-deterioration diseases. Calcitriol is required to absorb calcium from the food in your stomach. This is why it is important to get adequate calcitriol throughout your whole life - from those formative years to elderly years.
Did you know every cell in the body has Vitamin D receptors? It is a powerful ingredient in monitoring our cellular health. Vitamin D orders cells to return to healthy, replicating functionality, and if it does not properly deliver that information, it tells the cell to destroy itself. Malfunctioning cells that do not get destroyed become cancerous. If we’re deficient in Vitamin D, clearly that process is hindered. Vitamin D has a protective effect of lowering cancer risks and even is a form of treatment for all kinds of cancers- everything from breast cancer to colon cancer.
Vitamin D helps subdue an overly reactive immune system. It helps control infections and reduce inflammation.
Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to erectile dysfunction, orgasmic function, and sexual desire.
New studies on Vitamin D have shown that deficiency increases susceptibility to autoimmune diseases, type-1 diabetes, diseases associated with the nervous system, and dementia. It was found that Vitamin D is an epigenetic controller; meaning it influences several hundred genes in our body - many of which control disease expression and suppression. Vitamin D also decides which proteins are being made from our genetic code.
Signs include fatigue, bone pain, muscle soreness, muscle weakness, cramps, mood changes. The range of symptoms shows us how much Vitamin D plays a role in our overall health.
How Much Vitamin D & How To Get It?
Vitamin D is stored in fat cells until your body needs to convert them in the kidney and liver. In the Spring & Summer, if you’re spending at least 30 minutes in the sun without sunscreen, you can get an adequate amount. It can be stored for months, but it is recommended that in the flu seasons and in winter, you supplement with extra. Many authorities are recommending 800-1000 ICU’s per day. Living above the 37 degree latitude line across the world makes it difficult to get an adequate amount of UVB rays during the winter, so food sources will have to do unless those living in the northern side of the United States are able to fly south for the winter. My Vitamin D supplements, High D3 and Ultimate D are high-quality supplements safe for vegan diets. Other plant-based food sources are wild mushrooms and lichens.
Skin type is a big factor in your body’s ability to convert UVB rays into usable Vitamin D. The more melanin and thus, darker pigment that you have, the less UVB radiation is able to reach the epidermis. There is concern about sunlight being bad for you and causing cancer, but the truth is if you’re not getting those UVB rays, you’re not getting adequate Vitamin D intake. Also, many sunscreens are actually carcinogenic, so make sure and look at what is in your sunscreen. One more point is that being deficient in Vitamin D is a major risk factor for developing skin cancer. 30 minutes outside in the sunshine, around midday daily is enough for most people. Damage comes from skin burns that result from spending too much time indoors and then too much time outdoors trying to get a tan.
XO - Serena