Vitamin-D is associated with so many issues that it is probably at the top of my list for the most important vitamins. I recently wrote an article about Vitamin-D (here) but it is so essential to get enough that I wanted to follow-up on the topic.
You see there is a lot of mis-information around sun exposure and we need to set it right in the context of getting enough Vitamin-D. To make matter more complicated, during certain parts of the year, you will produce no vitamin D from the sun. Sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D. And if you live above 37 degrees north or south latitude you never receive enough sunlight to adequately produce vitamin D from the sun outside of summer months.
Let’s see how we can get more Vitamin-D to stay healthy.
Why is Vitamin-D important
The effects of even mild vitamin D deficiency needs looked into. Vitamin D has so many health benefits, protecting against or improving symptoms in such a wide range of health conditions Consider the rates of osteoporosis, tooth decay, or digestive issues peole have we can directly assume that we are not connecting to light enough.
- You can’t absorb or use calcium : People who are even partly deficient absorb only about 10 to 15 percent of their dietary calcium and 60 percent of their dietary phosphorus. When vitamin D deficiency is corrected, intestinal calcium absorption increases to about 30-40 percent and phosphorus absorption is increased to about 80 percent.
- Builds Stronger Bones : This is related to calcium but worth mentioning. If deficient in calcium the body will use the reserves in the bones which will weaken them.
- The gut microbiome is effected by UVB light. Chronic digestive disorders associate with vitamin D deficiency and may be related to calcium absorption in the digestive tract. Sunlight freezes and directs calcium and minerals into our bone systems.
- Lowers Hashimoto’s Antibodies. If your TPO antibodies are elevated, vitamin D will help.
- May Help Inhibit Growth of Breast Cancer : Checking for Vitamin D levels is one of the first things even traditional oncologists do in the treatment of breast cancers, and it’s a baseline protocol for integrative breast cancer treatment plans.
- Balances Blood Sugar Levels : Healthy levels of vitamin D help make sure we’re producing adequate levels of insulin, one of our blood sugar regulating hormones. Low vitamin D levels are associated with insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
- Has Anti-inflammatory Effects : Vitamin-D is correleted to C-Reactive Protein levels. CRP is used as an indication of inflammation which is the underlying cause of most chronic conditions, including autoimmunity.
- Reverses and Prevents Anemia : Until recently we mostly thought of anemia as a result of low iron and/or vitamin B12. We now know vitamin D can also play a role!
- Vitamin-D is a critical co-factor in many processes in our body
How much do we need
Sometimes the amount of vitamin D is expressed as International Units (IU). 1 microgram of vitamin D is equal to 40 IU. So 100 micrograms of vitamin D is equal to 4000 IU.
Babies and Children
Healthy blood levels of vitamin-D are considered from 30 to 60 ng/ml, but even up-to 100ng/ml is considered fine.
If you are below 10, pretty much everyone agrees that you are severely deficient, and if you are below 30, you are not getting enough.
Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. Ths is because it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, and is not so easily excreted from the body as water-soluble vitamins, the B’s and C. It’s possible to end up with toxicity, so don’t go over the recommended range for supplementation.
When getting a dose of vitamin D3 in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 UI per day, it may still take 3 to 4 months to get into a healthy range. You can then switch to a maintenance dose of 2,000 UI per day.
- Aim for your Vitamin-D levels to be around 40 ng/ml.
- Aim to get around 5000 UI per day if you are deficient and around 2000 UI as a maintenance level.
Get enough Vitamin-D from sun
You will want to calculate the time that you can produce vitamin D depending on various parameters. But dont’ worry about making too much vitamin D from the sun because your body self-regulates by stopping production when it has reached its limit.
Check the UV index : If the sunlight isn’t strong enough for your skin to be able to make any Vitamin-D. The strength of UV radiation being emitted by the sun varies by time of day, time of year, and day of the week. You generally want an UV index greater than 5. A great app for this is DMinder which tracks sunlight and vitamin D production to maximize your body’s vitamin D generation while helping to prevent burning.
The Shadow Rule : While you are outside in the sunshine, look at your shadow. Is it shorter than you are? If your shadow is shorter than your height, the sun is high enough in the sky to let UVB rays shine through and reach the ground, and your skin!
Latitude and season : Those closer to the equator, where the midday sun is high in the sky throughout the year, have the ability to produce vitamin D year-round, where as those north of about 37 degrees latitude experience a “vitamin D winter” for some period of time between fall and early spring when the sun never gets high enough in the sky to enable vitamin D production.
Clothing and sunscreen : If you want more Vitamin-D expose more skin!
Time in the sun : Under the right conditions, the body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D with full body exposure in just under the time it takes for your skin to turn pink, but not on your first day out in the sun after a long winter. Increase your exposure time gradually as this allows your skin to adapt to the sun’s intensity.
Skin color : If you have a dark skin you need more time in the sun compared to a lighter skinned individual to produce the same amount of vitamin D. It is important to be mindful of your skin type and avoid burning.
Time of day : Vitamin-D production is strongest mid-day between 10am and 2pm. Follow the Shadow Rule.
Sun and cancer
- Sun and skin cancer have been correlated for many year. There are however, also studies that show a strong association with certain gene mutations (the p53 gene).
- Try to avoid getting burnt by staying longer than what you can tolerate.
Get enough Vitamin-D from food
During the winter months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources and supplements.
The sources include:
- Oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
However usually food is not enough so you should consider supllementing with Cod Liver Oil or a Vitamin-D3 supplement. You should aim to get 5000 UI per day (The product I use is from NuviHealth)
- Since Vitamin-D is critical for our health it is important that we all make a consious effort to increase our levels.
- Healthy levels are considered around 40 ng/ml
- Sun is the best source of Vitamin-D but since getting adequate Vitamin-D from sun throughout the year is difficult most people should consider supplementing.
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26637501/ vitamin-d and hashimotos
- Vitamin-D and CRP
- Vitamin-D and Autoimmune
- Anemia and Vitamin-D
- Sun and cancer
- Beneficial effects of sun on cancer mortality
- Skin Cancer and p53 mutations