Vitamin D3--Your Body's Superhero!

To our valued Healthy Habits® customers, and their family and friends:  This important and timely information was researched and complied exclusively with your well-being in mind. May you be blessed with health, safety, and excellent immunity!

There may be no more important health-protective substance than vitamin D3. A deficiency (or insufficiency) of vitamin D in your body will contribute to poorer health and worse outcomes, even if you’re doing everything else right.

Having enough vitamin D is shown to reduce risk of infectious diseases by strengthening the immune system. D also supports people with autoimmune issues.  It is now understood that vitamin D plays an important role in every system of our bodies– without exception. Death by every cause is shown to decrease with optimal vitamin D blood levels. It’s that important.

Vitamin D Plays a Strong Role in:

  • Immune Health
  • Bone Health
  • Heart Health
  • Inflammation Management
  • Brain Health
  • Reproductive System Health
  • Cellular Health
  • Blood Sugar levels
  • Joint Health
  • Antioxidant Protection

“We estimate that vitamin D deficiency is the most common medical condition in the world.”- Dr. Michael F. Holick, Vitamin D expert.

Immunity & Viruses

People with low or sub-optimal vitamin D levels are at a higher risk for cold, flu and other respiratory viruses. (You likely know that common cold and flu viruses are also corona viruses.)  A 2020 study of people from 20 countries found a significant relationship between COVID-19 mortality rates and vitamin D levels. Those with higher levels of vitamin D showed evidence of protection, which matched up with what science has already proven:  vitamin D unquestionably defends against bacterial and viral infections, including respiratory illnesses.

Adequate vitamin D levels are needed to produce specific antimicrobial proteins** that kill viruses and bacteria. These proteins are especially active in the respiratory tract. Without adequate D, you are less effective at producing these proteins and are more susceptible to infection. There are also vitamin D receptors and activating enzymes on the surfaces of all white blood cells, proving they require D to do their job to protect you from infections.

The Cytokine Storm

It appears that COVID-19, and other respiratory viruses and disease states, can trigger in some people what’s called a “cytokine storm”. This is a hyper-inflammatory condition caused by an overactive immune system.  The immune system itself (via the cytokine storm) can potentially severely damage the lungs, leading to acute respiratory distress and death.

That’s right, it appears that in most cases the virus doesn’t kill directly; instead, it’s a person’s own over-reactive immune system that leads to severe inflammation and lungs rapidly filling with fluid. This “friendly-fire” overreaction by the immune system is significantly less likely to occur in people with optimal vitamin D levels, according to the study conducted by Northwestern University in the Spring of 2020 during the global pandemic.

Skin Tone and Vitamin D

African Americans (especially those living north of the 37th parallel) and other people with naturally darker skin are frequently low in vitamin D, since the melanin in their skin slows its production. Dark-skinned people require between three and five times the amount of sun exposure to make the same amount of vitamin D as light-skinned people, due to the protective effects of melanin.

This may be the main reason why dark-skinned people have passed away at much higher rates from COVID-19 than those with lighter skin. This also explains why this demographic has higher rates of other serious health challenges, which according to studies are likely also related to vitamin D status. Therefore, making this “superhero” nutrient a priority going forward will absolutely help improve the overall health of millions of us.

Maximizing Vitamin D

If people begin to take vitamin D testing and supplementation seriously it will be a silver lining from this pandemic. Vitamin D is the most important substance when it comes to overall immunity. Vitamins are essential organic compounds required for normal metabolic function that cannot be produced in the body, and so must be consumed from food and/or supplements. While vitamin D is not technically a vitamin, it meets the general requirement of one.

It’s an essential steroid hormone which is normally made in skin exposed to the UVB rays in sunlight. In many parts of the world, especially closer to the equator, vitamin D is made when UVB rays interact with the cholesterol in your skin, so don’t wash the exposed skin with soap within 24 hours post-exposure or you will wash off most of the vitamin D you just made. Since UVB rays can’t penetrate glass, avoid exposure to sunlight through a window (which only allows the damaging and cancer-causing UVA rays through).

Ideally, we should expose bare skin (without sunscreen) to direct mid-day sunlight at least three times per week– 10 to 20 minutes is plenty for light skinned people under 50, unless you live north of the 37th parallel (more about this below).

Huge Benefits for Heart & Bones

Vitamin D has an essential role in ensuring that calcium is absorbed easily into the bones, but it can’t do it alone. Many people are unaware that the sunshine vitamin has a “soulmate”, so to speak– its name is vitamin K2.  These two fat-soluble vitamins play a central role in calcium metabolism. Combined, D3 and K2 ensure that calcium is absorbed easily and reaches the bone mass, while preventing arterial calcification– helping to keep your heart and bones healthy. Vitamin D3 helps the intestine absorb minerals, including the bone-building minerals calcium and phosphorus. Without enough vitamin D, it is estimated that only 10% to 15% of calcium and about 60% of phosphorus are absorbed.

Vitamin D promotes the production of specific vitamin proteins which require the presence of vitamin K2 in order to function properly. K2 activates the calcium-binding actions of two proteins — matrix GLA protein and osteocalcin, which help to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Scientists agree that for maximum effect in the body, MK-7 (natural long chain Menaquinone-7) is the optimal source of vitamin K2. K2 helps deposit calcium into your bones and teeth where it belongs, preventing it from lodging in soft tissues and on artery walls, thereby also reducing risk of heart disease.

Signs of Low Vitamin D Levels (85% of us are likely to have below optimal Vitamin D levels.)

  • Bone pain & bone loss—often related to rickets, osteoporosis or it’s precursor: osteopenia.
  • Muscle weakness (myopathy)including a heaviness in the legs, difficulty standing up and climbing stairs. This can lead to increased risk of falling.
  • Weight Gainvitamin D aids in regulating appetite and body weight, and a decrease in body fat has been reported by increasing D levels. Vitamin D may be helpful for weight loss because it appears to control levels of leptin—a hormone that inhibits hunger and limits fat storage. Without adequate D a person doesn’t know when to stop eating. (Don’t use this to assume your vitamin D status, though. Please get tested.) It’s likely that 99% of people with a BMI over 30 are deficient in this vitamin/steroid hormone.
  • Tiredness, Deep fatigue and Reduced Endurance
  • Chronic Insomnia–studies show that the parts of the brain that regulate sleep contain vitamin D receptors. Low levels of vitamin D are related to poor quality sleep and sleeping fewer than 5 hours a night.
  • Constant respiratory problemsAsthma, COPD, Bronchitis, Sinusitis, colds, flu, etc.
  • Depression, Changes in Mood & Cognitive Function, SAD, & Suicide attemptsvitamin D is believed to help regulate the release of neurotransmitters (dopamine & serotonin) in the brain that influence moods. People who feel depressed may be D deficient, and there may be a link to dementia.
  • Psoriasis/Eczema
  • Dry Skin
  • Hives
  • Acne
  • Autoimmune diseases—such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. For those with Lupus (SLE), vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher rates of end-stage renal disease.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis – the further north of the equator you go the higher the rates of MS.
  • Chronic Pain—perhaps in the shoulders, lower back, rib cage, and/or pelvis, and perhaps stiff joints. Vitamin D3 can help reduce the risk of chronic inflammation, and a deficiency is considered a potential trigger to chronic pain.
  • Neuropathy
  • Gum Disease/Periodontal Disease
  • Chronic infections—bladder, sinus, etc.
  • Chronic kidney disease *(please read the warning at the end of the article. Do not supplement with D without working closely with your health care provider.)
  • Shingles – and especially recurrence of shingles (herpes zoster virus)
  • Cardiovascular disease, Congestive Heart Failure—due to improper distribution of calcium, allowing it to build up as atherosclerosis in the blood vessels.
  • Digestive Problems—a direct correlation appears between vitamin D levels and the development of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), where sufferers experience chronic digestive tract inflammation. Unfortunately, these diseases can cause nutritional deficiencies to worsen.
  • Hypertension
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Cancer risk—including prostate, ovarian, colorectal & multiple myeloma. Adequate D may prevent breast cancer cells from growing. If diagnosed with cancer insist on a vitamin D test immediately.
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Type 2 Diabetes—D deficiency has been linked to higher risk of T2D. Vitamin D supplementation may improve blood sugar & insulin levels.
  • Pregnancy problems—D deficiency in the mother can lead to diabetes, pre-eclampsia & preterm births.
  • Infertility problems—make sure your D levels are in the optimal range.
  • Dry Eyes & Vision problems
  • Hair Loss—Vitamin D stimulates hair follicles to grow.
  • Crankiness
  • Vertigo—a sudden spinning sensation, different from the B-12 deficiency symptom.
  • Sweaty head, and no doubt many more symptoms not yet understood to be related to low vitamin D.

Senior Skin and Sunlight

For those over 50, here’s something most articles and commentators leave out– older skin makes much less vitamin D than young skin. As skin thins with age it becomes limited in synthesizing vitamin D from sun exposure, and the kidneys may lose some of their ability to convert vitamin D into its active form (calcitriol). Plus—if you wear sunscreen or live north of 37 degrees latitude your skin is simply unable to make vitamin D no matter your age, say the experts.

Suggestion: I encourage early morning sun exposure (and/or after 4 pm) without sunscreen or sunglasses. (Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 reduces the production of vitamin D in the skin by 95%.) Sunlight exposure offers many irreplaceable physical and mental health benefits unrelated to vitamin D3, and most of us don’t get outdoors enough (without sunglasses) for adequate sunlight exposure anymore. A daily walk would check off multiple boxes.

For the 50+ north crowd —supplementation may be your only option. If you live south of the 37th parallel, but always wear sunscreen and avoid all sun exposure, the same is true for you. It is recommended by experts that everyone should have their blood tested for vitamin D levels every six months and especially if they are in the high-risk group. The target should be 50 ng/ml –90 ng/ml.

Supplement Dosage Recommendations

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D was 400 IU for many decades because studies proved that getting at least that much D would prevent rickets (soft bones). The USRDA is now 600 IU for young adults and 800 IU for those over 70. The problem for most people is that this is nowhere near enough to maintain a healthy well-functioning body dependent upon supplements. Babies and children need vitamin D for proper development, and if they reside north of the 37th parallel they require supplementation and/or fortified foods.

Too much vitamin D can be dangerous, since it’s fat soluble and can potentially store up in excess in the body. Vitamin D toxicity can lead to fatigue, irritability, muscle weakness and elevated blood pressure.

Have you ever wondered how people who live in the far north get enough vitamin D? It’s readily available in ocean fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring, and sardines, as well as egg yolks, mushrooms and D-fortified foods. (A 3.5 ounce serving of Atlantic herring provides 216 IU of vitamin D.) Make sure you are also supplementing with adequate high quality magnesium, since this commonly deficient mineral plays an important role in mobilizing calcium for bone building. Avoid supplements with magnesium oxide as the only source.

Blood tests for vitamin D should be done like clockwork every six months until you are in the optimal range, then at least every 12 months. Consider scheduling it now.

Who is at Risk of a D-Deficiency? (Or, why does my D3 supplement appear not to work?)

  • Your liver or kidneys cannot convert vitamin D3 to its active form in the body.
  • ***You take medicines that interfere with your body’s ability to convert or absorb vitamin D.
  • You take your supplement between meals, without K2 and beneficial fats and/or too low a dose.

Important Rule for Taking Vitamin D3 Supplements

Since this is a fat-soluble vitamin, always take Vitamin D supplements during a meal with ocean fish or fish oil, such as Healthy Habits® PureFect Omega-3, grass-fed butter, flax oil, walnut oil, avocado, or other high-quality fat (but preferably not coconut oil).

Insufficient good fats (vitamin F) in the diet may lead to hair loss, hives, eczema, edema, dry eyes, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, dry skin, brittle nails, obesity and more.  Supplementing vitamin D3 without consuming adequate good fats at the same time, such as fish oil, can make these problems worse.

Important Note/Warning: Do not mega-dose (over 5,000 IU/daily) on vitamin D supplements without a doctor’s supervision no matter how badly you want to improve your health, as it can create other problems and potentially worsen existing ones. Discuss your concerns with your physician right away as he/she may have other options and can carefully monitor your progress.

Some side effects of taking too much vitamin D include weakness, fatigue, sleepiness, headache, loss of appetite, dry mouth, metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, etc.

Vitamin D Dose Recommendations (Have semi-annual blood tests to measure your D levels. Details below

   Age                                                     Daily Dosage

Below 5                                          35 Units per pound per day

Age 5-10                                                  2500 Units

Adults                                                 4000-5000 Units

Pregnant Women                                   8000 Units

The All-Important, Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Vitamin D Test

Ask for the 25(OH)D testwhich is the only test that will tell you if you’re getting adequate vitamin D. Discuss this with your doctor to schedule it for you, or you can order a home test. Search online for options; their prices are much lower than what your local lab will charge.

Or visit: https://www.healthlabs.com/vitamin-d-25-hydroxy-calcidiol-testing   Pay online, then visit your preferred lab to provide the blood sample. (Only $59 as of May 2020). The affiliated labs in your area show up on the screen to help you choose the location and make an appointment.

Relevant Healthy Habits® Products:

New!  Healthy Heart & Bones D3+K2: Specially designed for optimal absorption of vitamin D3, including the vital role of directing calcium into the bones instead of allowing it to accumulate in the blood vessels, which can dangerously exacerbate blood flow problems. Each vegi-capsule delivers an ideal dose of 5,000 IU of D3 along with 100 mcg. of K2. Click here now to learn more.

New!  PureFect Omega-3 Fish Oil: Consuming healthy fats & D together during a meal is essential for highest absorption of vitamin D3, K2, the other fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, & K1) and turmeric/curcumin supplements. Anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil has been shown in a multitude of studies to provide powerful benefits to the heart, brain, eyes and much more. Click here now to learn more.

Healthy Habits® has been here for nearly 20 years to support you to stay vitally healthy during your golden years. Thank you for sharing our articles and information with your loved ones. We pride ourselves on being a quality resource for you and your family.

Contraindications for D3 Supplementation

*If your kidneys are impaired do not supplement with vitamin D3 without your doctor’s oversight. Healthy kidneys contain vitamin D receptors and play an essential role in converting it into its active form. But when kidneys fail this ability is lost and calcium and phosphorus levels in blood can become dangerously high.

People diagnosed with hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis, TB or histoplasmosis should only take supplemental vitamin D with oversight by a physician. If you have been diagnosed with osteomalacia, osteopenia or osteoporosis you are advised to work with your physician to raise your vitamin D levels. Taking too high a dose of supplemental vitamin D3 (over 800 iu/day) may lead to more bone loss. Taking too much vitamin D can be as harmful to bones as too little, particularly if you don’t supplement vitamin K2 with it.

Caution: people taking blood thinning drugs such as Coumadin®/Warfarin therapy should avoid taking vitamin K2 in supplement form. Request that your doctor switch you to aspirin therapy or one of the newer anticoagulant drugs instead since Coumadin® is proven to cause bone loss and fractures.

 

** Vitamin D stimulates the expression of potent antimicrobial peptides, such as cathelicidin and β defensin 2, which exist in neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer (NK) cells and epithelial cells lining the respiratory tract. Oct 1, 2011 Pubmed.gov

  • ***Medicines that interfere with your body’s ability to convert or absorb vitamin D:
  • Antibiotics – rifampin (rifampicin) and isoniazid, commonly used to treat TB. Vitamin D levels can sometimes fall after as little as two weeks’ exposure to these drugs.
  • Anti-seizure drugs – phenobarbital, carbamazepine, phenytoin
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs – corticosteroids
  • Anti-cancer drugs – Taxol and related compounds
  • Antifungal agents – clotrimazole and ketoconazole
  • Anti-HIV drugs – emerging research suggests that the drugs efavirenz (Sustiva, Stocrin and in Atripla) and AZT (Retrovir, zidovudine and in Combivir and Trizivir) may reduce vitamin D levels in some people. In contrast, exposure to darunavir (Prezista) appears to raise vitamin D levels. Researchers continue to study the possible effects of different medications on vitamin D levels, so expect more news about this in the years ahead.
  • Herbs – St. John’s wort or its extracts (hypericin, hyperforin)

 

Shares