I have been hearing a lot of buzz around Vitamin D, specifically Vitamin D3. I don’t know why but it seems to be making its way into many conversations around me lately so I have been feeling compelled to write an article on this ‘sunshine’ vitamin. My hope is to get the message across of the importance of Vitamin D3 and the role it plays in our bodies.
It turns out our society as a whole is deficient in Vitamin D3. Surprisingly, up to 50% of people in North America alone are not getting adequate levels of Vitamin D3 in their systems, which can lead to a series of health problems, according to the most recent scientific data.
Cancer, Dementia, Autism, Cold and Flu, Hypertension, Heart Disease, Inflammatory Bowel, Crohn’s , Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, MS, TB, Influenza, and so many more have all been linked to vitamin D3 deficiency, according to researchers.
Vitamin D Is Not Really A Vitamin?
Although Vitamin D is said to be a ‘vitamin’, it is actually better classified as a steroid hormone that is best absorbed through exposure to the sun. There are 2 types of D vitamin. D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is 83% more effective and new studies suggest that Vitamin D3 is what we want to be most concerned with getting enough of.
Some people may find it surprising that our bodies are meant to absorb Vitamin D3 through sun exposure and not diet or supplements. Since our bodies better absorb this vitamin via the sun, you can imagine why so many people are deficient. Things such as the weather and skin pigmentation are the major determining factors in predicting how much Vitamin D3 you are absorbing.
In recent decades, we have been warned to stay out of the sun as much as possible and to protect ourselves at all times with sunscreen. This is not the best practice, according to new research. Instead, new evidence suggests to get a healthy dose of sunlight in the form of UVB rays, which are the rays that enable us to absorb Vitamin D3. The UVB rays are present between the hours of 10am – 2pm.
Rather that using sunscreen during these hours, there is growing evidence that suggests not using sunscreen for as long as your skin will not burn. So in other words, let nature tell you when you have had enough sun exposure by covering up just before you would burn. For some people this will be 10-20 minutes and for others it may be a couple of hours.
I have never been one to put on much sunscreen, but I also make sure I don’t burn. When I do have to use sunscreen though, I will use as much as a chemical free one as possible or I make my own sunscreen.
Vitamin K2 works together with Vitamin D3
Now, not to complicate things here but there is a very important nutrient we also need to take that works hand in hand with Vitamin D. The nutrient I am talking about is Vitamin K2, not to get mixed up with Vitamin K1.
The role of Vitamin K2 is to move calcium (which is produced by Vitamin D) into the proper areas of our bodies, such as our bones, and out of the areas in our bodies where calcium should not be, such as our soft tissues and arteries.
In an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. Kate Rheaume-Bleue, author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life:
“When you take vitamin D, your body creates more of these vitamin K2-dependent proteins, the proteins that will move the calcium around. They have a lot of potential health benefits. But until the K2 comes in to activate those proteins, those benefits aren’t realized. So, really, if you’re taking vitamin D, you’re creating an increased demand for K2. And vitamin D and K2 work together to strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
…For so long, we’ve been told to take calcium for osteoporosis… and vitamin D, which we know is helpful. But then, more studies are coming out showing that increased calcium intake is causing more heart attacks and strokes. That created a lot of confusion around whether calcium is safe or not. But that’s the wrong question to be asking, because we’ll never properly understand the health benefits of calcium or vitamin D, unless we take into consideration K2. That’s what keeps the calcium in its right place“
Vitamin D Deficiency And The Flu…
So how is the lack of Vitamin D associated with decreased risk of catching the Flu?
Vitamin D plays a key role in activating the immune system, which enable our bodies to produce several proteins that trigger cell activity and attack viruses. Shockingly, Vitamin D is said to be more effective in preventing the flu than anti viral drugs and flu vaccines.
According to the findings from a 2010 study, getting adequate levels of vitamin D is a highly effective way to avoid influenza. The study found that 18% of school aged children taking a Vitamin D supplement contracted the flu as compared to 31% who didn’t take a Vitamin D supplement.
So How Much Vitamin D Should We Be Getting?
There seems to be mixed suggestions on exactly how much Vitamin D we should be getting. Some experts say 2,000 IU, some say as much as 5,000 IU per day. If your Vitamin D is coming from sun exposure, how do you know how much you are really getting?
Your best bet is to get a Vitamin D blood test to test your levels and gauge from there how much sun or supplementing you will need to do. As always, talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have in relation to your levels.
Here is a chart that will act as a guideline for your blood levels according to what experts suggest:
If you want to know more about Vitamin D and the latest research, I have found Dr. Mercola’s page to be very informative and up to date with the latest findings.
How do you feel about the Sun? Do you cover up with sunscreen every time you go outside or do you let your skin soak up the sun first?