The difference between a medicine and a poison is dosage. That goes for sunshine, protein, fiber, sleep, work, and nearly anything. Over 100,000 Americans die annually from the on label use of prescription drugs, per JAMA. Yet, there are no deaths from the use of nutrition supplements, even though many are overused and abused.
For decades, the medical profession has told us to hide from the sun. We now have epidemic proportions of vitamin D deficiency throughout the world, especially among dark skinned people, who need more sun than fair skinned people. Vitamin D regulates more than 20% of the human genome and has major implications for health and longevity. According to a recent study from Germany, if blood levels of vitamin D were kept above 50 (which requires either supplements of D or substantial sun exposure), then Covid could be virtually eliminated. A region of Spain distributed vitamin D supplements among the people most vulnerable to Covid, which are the elderly and frail, and were able to reduce Covid incidence by 80% compared to nearby regions. Somehow, this inexpensive, non-toxic, and effective supplement of vitamin D has been ignored by the CDC, FDA, WHO and mainstream media.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency has become a global public health problem. Most often there is an absence of any noticeable symptoms and often people are not aware that they may be lacking this crucial vitamin.
Vitamin D is essential to maintain a healthy self regulating body. Many are at risk and not aware of the Vitamin D deficiency symptoms. However, vitamin D plays many important roles and reduced levels of this vitamin can cause serious threat to your overall well-being.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, which is found in two forms i.e. vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D2 is known as ergo-calciferol and it comes from fortified foods (like milk), plant foods, and supplements while vitamin D3 is known as cholecalciferol and it comes from fortified foods, animal foods (fatty fish, cod liver oil, eggs, and liver), supplements, and also made internally by your skin when exposed to direct sun. That’s why, vitamin D is also known as “sunshine vitamin,” as your body naturally produces all the vitamin D it needs, when exposed to direct sunlight. Humans are photosynthetic creatures, since we make vitamin D from the sun.
From around 1980-2010, experts estimated that the recommended daily intake of D be 400 iu. Yet researchers found that the human body produces 20,000 iu when exposed to summer sun on bare skin. Hence, as our understanding of this vitamin has increased, we become more aware of the need for higher doses from food or sun or supplements. When, you get short (30 minutes) regular exposures to the sun, your skin makes vitamin D3, which is then transformed to 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 by hydroxylation process in your liver, and then again to its active form 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in your kidney. However, if you spend a lot of time inside and use sunscreen or cover your skin when you go outside, you don’t get enough sunlight and your lifestyle puts you at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is necessary to get healthier. Also race, age, and other factors increase your risk of vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D Deficiency Causes
Does skin pigmentation affect Vitamin D levels?
Darker skin people are from more sunny tropical climates. The pigmentation in the skin is nature’s protection from getting too much sun. Yet that same pigmentation protection becomes a hindrance for darker people to generate enough vitamin D from meager sun exposure in temperate climates. Which is why African-Americans and Hispanics suffered much more from Covid, due to the overwhelming presence of clinical deficiencies of vitamin D among these people.
Age and Vitamin D
As people turn 50, skin doesn’t make as much vitamin D and the kidneys also become less productive to convert that vitamin D into its usable form. A reasonably healthy kidney and liver are required to convert the cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D in the body.
Does obesity affect Vitamin D levels?
Gastrointestinal conditions such as Crohn’s, celiac or inflammatory bowel disease reduce fat absorption and thereby lower absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D.
A 2014 study found a link between low blood levels of vitamin D and aggressive prostate cancer in European, American and African American men. Researchers looked at vitamin D levels in 667 men aged 40 to 79 years undergoing prostate biopsies. The connection between vitamin D and prostate cancer was especially strong in African American men. Older men are more prone to prostate cancer with the average age of diagnosis being about 66 years old, according to the American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men, and the second most common cause of cancer death in American men.
People suffering from kidney disease are found to be more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency, as their kidneys are unable to convert vitamin D to its active usable form.
How Essential is Vitamin D?
Since vitamin D regulates 20% of the human genome, vitamin D affects dozens of crucial functions in the human body. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient for your bone, skin and mental health. Though, the most important role of vitamin D is to absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus, for health and development of your bones and skeletal system. It also helps in reducing inflammation of arteries, clearing plaques and controlling blood pressure, which improves your cardiovascular and brain functions.
Further, it regulates the expression of genes that influence your immune system to attack and destroy bacteria and viruses, and plays vital role in controlling infections and reducing cancer cell growth.
Therefore, vitamin D deficiency in your body can cause thin and brittle bones, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and reduced immunity. Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with increased risk for several chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, erectile dysfunction (ED), depression, dementia including Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and various internal malignancies (colon, breast, ovarian, melanoma, and prostate cancer). Some Answers to Breast Cancer Questions
Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency
Though, vitamin D deficiency often goes undiagnosed due to absence of any noticeable symptoms. You should take serious note, if you are suffering from any of these symptoms:
- Tiredness or fatigue: Feeling or tiredness, exhaustion and muscle weakness is a sure sign of vitamin D deficiency.
- Excessive sweating: Sweating profusely especially on the forehead, in a moderate temperature environment with steady physical activity levels, could be a sign of vitamin D deficiency.
- Bone and joint pain: Osteopenia, osteoporosis (brittle and fragile bones) and osteomalacia (chronic pain in bones and stiff joints), are signs of vitamin D deficiency.
- Depression: Diagnosis of depression is often linked to deficiency of vitamin D.
High blood pressure and frequent bout of infections (including colds and the flu) are other important signs that you might be suffering from vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes in severe vitamin D deficiency you may experience difficulty in getting around. Senior citizens are often vulnerable to falling, which many times can be corrected through vitamin D supplementation.
Supplements of vitamin D begin at 1000 iu (25 mcg) and can be taken safely at doses of 10,000 iu (250 mcg). If you’re at risk for deficiency or experience any of the above noticeable symptoms consult your physician or have a blood test to examine your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is defined as a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations ≤20 ng/mL. Research suggests that 30 ng/mL to 50 ng/mL of vitamin D is required for optimal health and prevention of disease. Above that may be required to help your body heal from health challenges.
Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency
Standard treatment for a vitamin D deficiency is vitamin D3 supplementation. A daily dose of 800 to 2,000 international units (IU) is suggested for recovery. Also, take your vitamin D supplement with a meal that contains healthy fat for best absorption.
Some foods also have vitamin D but level in most foods is too low to correct a deficiency. So, supplementation and exposing your bare skin (arms, legs, abdomen and back) to the sun for 20-30 minutes daily are the two ways to correct deficiency. Are you Magnesium Deficient?
Vitamin D deficiency is rampant since we all moved inside, then were told to hide from the sun. Best food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon, sardines, etc.), fortified milk, eggs, liver, and mushrooms that are treated in the sun. Vitamin D actually is more of a hormone than a vitamin, since we can make vitamin D in the skin with the action of sunlight. Vitamin D regulates at least 20% of the human gene, which makes it vital in our quest for health.
More on this topic later.