By Kim Roy
Long grey days getting you down? Hard to get out of bed in the morning? Mysterious aches and pains keeping you from doing as much as you'd like? You might be deficient in vitamin D3.
While most people call it a “vitamin”, it's actually more like a hormone1. Our bodies can produce most of what it needs, if the right building blocks are in place for this to happen. Sometimes those building blocks are either deficient, or downright absent. This can happen through a variety of means: lack of exposure to the sun, through our diet, and be means of some medications.
WHY WE NEED D3
D3 serves many functions in the human body. It helps our bodies absorb the calcium in food. It fights cancer. It lowers incidence of heart disease and stroke. It helps combat diabetes, depression, immunity, infertility (due to PCOS), chronic pain from fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy and Chronic Fatigue Disorder, Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few7.
HOW TO GET IT
The oldest, and most natural way to get D3 is through sun exposure. It is the UV-B rays specifically that our bodies use to create D3 by means of the cholesterol our livers create. Hence the name cholecalciferol. Here is a small diagram that tries to illustrate how this works:
UV-B → Cholecalciferol → calcidiol → calcitriol (active form)
Note that D3 supplements come in the form of cholecalciferol, so that our bodies then have to convert it to its final usable conversion form calcitriol. Taking a supplement is simply bypassing the first stage, that is skin exposure.
The Vitamin D Council says,
“You don’t need to tan or to burn your skin in order to get the vitamin D you need. Exposing your skin for a short time will make all the vitamin D your body can produce in one day. In fact, your body can produce 10,000 to 25,000 IU of vitamin D in just a little under the time it takes for your skin to turn pink. You make the most vitamin D when you expose a large area of your skin, such as your back, rather than a small area such as your face or arms.”4
If sun exposure isn't an option, due to daytime interior work, or for cultural reasons requiring covering the body, supplementation is a very good option. Whether it's in pill form, softgel, or liquid, makes no difference. Neither is time of day. The dose, however, does make a difference.
The general conventional consensus is 400 IU for a child, and 1,000 IU for an adult. But these doses have now been shown to be much too low to be of any use to the our bodies. The new information coming out now says that, for children, 1,000 IU per 25 lbs of weight is a good starting point. And for adults, a starting daily dose of 3,000 IU is a good place to start.5
If a person is significantly deficient in D3, they might need a much higher dose for a few months, just to up the stores within their fat. This dose can be as high as 50,000 IU a day for a few months6. After that, the dose can be reduced to 10,000 IU a day.
A short note on food sources. The amount of D3 in food is negligible, and not enough to satisfy our body's needs. The tiny amount in such awesome foods as cod liver oil is not enough, and only serves as an adjunct source of D3.
If you've been taking mega-doses for a while, here are some signs that your body has too much D3 in its fat stores, and you need to pause supplementing for a while, like a month.
- feeling sick or being sick
- poor appetite or loss of appetite
- feeling very thirsty
- passing urine often
- constipation or diarrhea
- abdominal pain
- muscle weakness or pain
- bone pain
- feeling confused
- feeling tired
These are all signs of hypercalcemia, or too much calcium in the blood.
While D3 is very good at getting the body to absorb the calcium from food, it's not very good at telling that calcium where it needs to go. (Nice guy, that D3, eh?) So the calcium ends up accumulating in the blood, and causing all sorts of issues. Big one being atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries due to calcium build up in the arteries. The other symptoms are of calcium not being where it's supposed to be. This can be reversed through pausing intake of D3 until symptoms go away, and then restarting at a much lower dose.
But to avoid this, D3 should always be taken with K2. Think of K2 as a cousin of K1 (phylloquinone), the anti-coagulant vitamin. The body can convert K1 to K2, but it is of minuscule end product, and not nearly enough for the body's needs. While K2 has some coagulating effects, its main function is to tell calcium to go where it ought to go. K2 comes in nine forms, but only two forms are good for what we need: MK-4, and MK-7. Both are menaquinones, but both have different sources. MK-4 (menatetrenone) comes from an animal origin, while MK-7 has a vegetable origin. MK-4 can best be gotten from butter made from the milk of pastured cows, as Dr Weston A Price discovered in his travels around the world in the late 1930s8. Barring that, the next best food source is natto, a rather visually disturbing dish prepared by fermenting soybeans with natto-kin. The end product looks something like this:
This is where MK-7 comes from. It is also present in hard cheeses (like emmenthal), and soft cheeses, and egg yolks from pastured hens.
In ensuring the calcium gets to where it's needed, K2 can help avoid heart disease, osteoporosis, brittle nails, weak teeth, atherosclerosis, muscle aches.
WHAT IS STOPPING US FROM GETTING ENOUGH?
Because it is the cholesterol in our bodies that helps convert the UV-B rays to cholecalciferol, eating a diet that is low in good fats can contribute to a D3 deficiency, which can lead to dementia in later years. However, some lipid lowering medications can cause the same end result. Statins, lipid lowering medication can significantly lower serum lipids, or cholesterol, and this impacts the body's ability to create its own D3. If you are taking statins (Atorvastatin, Lovastatin, Simvastatin, etc), consider taking higher doses of D3, perhaps in the range of 10,000 IU a day. This can also help alleviate many of the common side effects of statins, namely muscle pain9.
WHEN YOU SHOULDN'T TAKE D3
Just like any food, or drug, this vitamin does have a limit on who it can help. People with granulomatous diseases, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, leprosy, coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, cat-scratch disease, paracoccidiodomycosis, granuloma annulare, should consult their family physician before taking any D3 supplements, as it may aggravate the symptoms.
I believe that everybody ought to be taking some form of D3 supplementation because hardly anybody can get enough exposure to the sun's UV-B rays in order to make adequate amounts of D3 for their health. So come on in and talk with one our staff in order to choose the best one that's right for you.
Further information, you can visit these sites:
- You & Your Hormones. (2015, January 11). Retrieved February 25, 2017, from http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/vitamin_d.aspx
- 10 Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms You Can Identify Yourself. (2017, February 08). Retrieved February 25, 2017, from http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/depression/10-vitamin-d- deficiency-symptoms-that-you-can-identify-yourself/
- Garland, C. F., Garland, F. C., Gorham, E. D., Lipkin, M., Newmark, H., Mohr, S. B., & Holick, M. F. (2006). The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention. American Journal of Public Health, 96(2), 252–261. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2004.045260
- Vitamin D Council | How do I get the vitamin D my body needs?. 2017. Vitamin D Council | How do I get the vitamin D my body needs?. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body- needs/. [Accessed 26 February 2017].
- www.Easy-Immune-Health.com. 2017. Your Vitamin D Requirements are VASTLY Higher Than You Think. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/Vitamin-D- Requirements.html. [Accessed 26 February 2017].111
- www.Easy-Immune-Health.com. 2017. Is Vitamin D 50 000 IU Safe? Should You Be Worried?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/vitamin-d-50-000-iu.html. [Accessed 26 February 2017].
- www.Easy-Immune-Health.com. 2017. Know the Vitamin D facts. Your Health Depends Upon It. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.easy-immune-health.com/Vitamin-D-facts.html. [Accessed 26 February 2017].
- Whole Health Source: Vitamin K2, menatetrenone (MK-4). 2017. Whole Health Source: Vitamin K2, menatetrenone (MK-4). [ONLINE] Available at: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.ca/2008/06/vitamin-k2-menatetrenone-mk-4.html. [Accessed 26 February 2017].
- Vitamin D Council | New study finds vitamin D supplementation may reduce side effects from statins. 2017. Vitamin D Council | New study finds vitamin D supplementation may reduce side effects from statins. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/new-study- suggests-vitamin-d-supplementation-reduces-side-effects-from-statins/. [Accessed 26 February 2017].