Jenny Crissman MS L. Ac
Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the "sunshine vitamin" because it's the only vitamin that can be made by the human body from sun exposure. It plays a very important role in health.
Our ancestors lived naked in the sun for several million years, 50,000 years ago some us migrated north and south to places with less sun. Then we put clothes on, started working inside, began living in cities with buildings that blocked the sun. Then we started traveling in cars instead of walking or riding horses. Then, only a few years ago we started actively avoiding the sun and putting on broad-spectrum sunscreen. All this time we humans have been steadily reducing the tissue levels of one of the most potent steroid hormones in our bodies- VITAMIN D!!
Let's examine some of the information we already know-
There is a large body of research telling us exposure to sun causes basal and squamous skin cancers. But, there are a few specific details we must also consider; these cancers are clearly linked to sun exposure on fair skinned people, frequency of exposure and the latitude of the residence.
Melanoma is another type of cancer linked to sun exposure but the evidence is not so clear cut. It often occurs in areas of the body that have less sun exposure . There is significant evidence that a history of sunburn can significantly increase the occurrence. But there is also evidence that those exposed to sun for longer and more consistent periods of time, occupational exposure, are less likely to develop melanoma. With this information we need to evaluate the risk-benefit ratio of possibly increased risk for melanoma, versus the overall health benefits of of extras vitamin D3 achieved by increasing sun exposure.
Now, how do we get our Daily D3 if we do not get it from the sun?
Very few foods naturally supply vitamin D. Beef liver, cheese, egg yolks and fatty fish, which contain small amounts of D3, are the best dietary sources of D3. Cod liver oil provides a time-honored potent source of D3, although the taste might be a turnoff.
The current recommended dietary allowances of vitamin D established for infants and adults is somewhat arbitrary. Infant guidelines ( 400 IU/day) were established as what would be an acceptable amount to prevent rickets and the adult dosage were half of that (200 IU/day) with no evidence that this intake has any ability to affect blood serum levels of vitamin D.
There are many benefits to vitamin D supplementation:
Improvement in congestive heart failure
Prevention of Breast Cancer
Prevention of Osteoarthritis Progression
Improvement of Multiple sclerosis
Slowing the Progression of Prostate Cancer
Prevention and Treatment of Influenza
What are the optimal levels of vitamin D?
Measurement for monitoring levels of vitamin D are done by blood draw. Ask your doctor for a vitamin D test. Be specific and ask for a 25(OH)D test. The recommended levels are established by the weight of vitamin D found in a given volume of blood. ( ng/ml) The current acceptable levels in blood are expected to be between 50-80ng/mL year round.
The are three ways to boost vitamin D levels: sunlight, artificial ultraviolet B 9 (UVB) radiation, and vitamin D3 supplements. Supplementing with 2,000-7,00IU per day is sufficient to maintain year-round levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D has and adaptive regulatory system that is not that well understood and it should be noted that levels fluctuate between high summertime and often much lower winter levels. This can lead to body tissue levels well below the ideal set point. So the idea of supplementing to maintain year round levels has become of great interest for the sake of disease prevention and health maintenance.
So once you have established your current levels of D, then you must figure out the right amount of supplement , from a a good source to maintain the optimal level year round. Discuss this with your healthcare provider. Remember sometimes a higher dosage is required to raise deficient levels, but regular supplementation vs sporadic large doses are the best way to keep your levels optimal.
My favorite choice is always liquid and one that comes in a bio-available source!