The Role It Plays In Your Body
There are only about 30,000 genes in your body and this hormone has been shown to influence about 3,000 of them.
That is one of the primary reasons it influences so many diseases, from cancer and autism to heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few.
But it isn't actually a vitamin, although scientists refer to it as such.
It's actually a steroid hormone that you get from sun exposure, food sources and/or supplementation.
The term refers to either D2 or D3, but D3 (chemical name 25-hydroxy vitamin-D) is the real deal, it's the same substance produced naturally through your skin by sun exposure.
Older research we've seen, appears at odds on whether your body cares which form of D it's getting, but a study in the January 2011 Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that D3 is 87 percent more effective than D2, and is the preferred form for treating a "D" deficiency.
What Is It: A vitamin present in just a few foods (but added to some others) that's also produced when UV rays hit the skin.
Why you need it: Essential to calcium absorption and without it, bones don't grow correctly and become thing, brittle, and easily broken.
Also helps with the immune system and can reduce inflammation.
Part of the family of fat solubles, this vitamin is often found in food items.
However, what's unique is the fact that it can also be gotten from adequate exposure to ultraviolet rays of the sun.
It seems that sunshine is a great natural source, not because it actually provides vit-D, but it hastens the synthesis in the skin.
An exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes under the sun is more than enough to produce this vitamin.
One must remember though that several factors can affect the amount that you'll get from the sun.
The season, the time of the day, even the geographic location can affect the levels.
Smog, cloud formation and even the sunscreen that you use may also lessen the amounts that you can provide.
For instance, less of the vitamin can be absorbed by the body when the season is cold.
Cloud formations can lessen the amount by as much as 60 percent while the sunscreens with sun protection factor of about 8 or greater can block the UV rays that actually aid in the production in the skin.
Still, because of the threat of skin cancer through excessive sun exposure, it's important that one also use sunscreen all the time.
There are actually different forms and each has a different level of activity.
For instance, calciferol, one of its forms, is the most active.
Active forms can serve as hormones as it sends messages to intestines, helping in the faster absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
Stacked up against the sun’s rays, most foods aren’t rich sources, but mushrooms are an exception.
When exposed to sunlight for a day or two (but no longer), their D levels soar from about 100 IU per 100 grams up to an incredible 46,000 IU per 100 grams!
So, before you cook your mushrooms, give them their day in the sun.
For inactive forms of the vitamin that are produced in the skin or gotten from the foods that we eat, the liver and the kidney aid in the conversion to the active form called 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D.
This is the physiologically active.
Basically, the main function is to make sure that the levels of both calcium and phosphorus in blood remains normal.
It's also necessary in the absorption of calcium.
This is essential in the formation and maintenance of strong teeth and bones through mineralization.
This is especially with children who are still in the development stage or the elderly who need to maintain strong skeletal support.
Studies have shown that the lack of vitamin-D can actually lead to misshapen and brittle bones.
This is also the reason why a deficiency of the vitamin can result to conditions called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.
Both these condition are characterized by weakening of the bones.
In addition, it's also important in terms of being a support vitamin to other vitamins and minerals, helping in the faster absorption.
It is also found to help in keeping the immune system in peak shape as well as regulate cell renewal and growth.
Vitamin -D, as mentioned before, can be consumed through food items.
Among the good sources are cod-liver oil, margarine and shortenings.
Eggs and other milk products are also rich sources of this vitamin.
Because rickets had become a nationwide health problem in the United States way back in the 1930s, food and milk were fortified with it in an effort to eliminate the problem in the next generations.
This is perhaps the reason why most foods in the country have adequate levels of the vitamin.
In fact, about 98 to 99 percent of the milk being sold to American consumers have about 10 micrograms of the vitamin.
This is equivalent to about 400 international units (IU).
After years of deceit, new evidence suggests that dermatologists and sunscreen makers are making us all disease magnets.
Bad, but widely accepted advice just might be killing you slowly, if you buy into what they say about the dangers of our native sun.
They want you to avoid sunshine... slather on chemical sunscreen if you go outside... stay indoors during peak sun hours... wear long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses even when it's not sunny... and strive to cut your sun exposure to none.
Abide by these instructions and it could spell disaster for your health.
By following their "no safe level of sun exposure" rule, you'll put yourself at higher risk for deadly cancers, heart disease and more.
It's time to set the record straight.
Real science supports more, not less, sun exposure.
If you know how to safely take advantage of the sun, you'll live a happier, longer life for it.
You'll see how to enjoy the warm, golden, mood-lifting rays of the sun once again.
The True Crisis is a Deficiency of Vitamin-D
When the sun's rays strike your skin, an amazing hormonal reaction begins.
Your skin absorbs the light and uses it to make vitamin-D3.
Think of it as the human version of photosynthesis.
Next your liver and kidneys metabolize the vitamin-D3 into an active hormone called 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin-D3.
It's quite a mouthful, but this substance plays an important role in almost every system of your body.
• This super vitamin helps build healthy bones.
Vitamin-D deficiencies contribute to osteoporosis, other bone-weakening conditions, and unhealthy teeth.
• Vitamin-D helps keep the immune system tuned.
Vitamin-D deficiencies promote a number of painful autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
• Vitamin-D helps keep your circulatory system healthy.
People with heart disease commonly have a vitamin-D deficiency.
• Vitamin-D helps keep cells healthy.
There's a link between higher rates of several deadly cancers and vitamin-D deficiency.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin-D available.
Because of the dire warning about the sun, many doctors recommend you flat out avoid it.
This well-meant advice about sun-avoidance is creating an epidemic of vitamin- D deficiency.
Twenty percent of children and adults up to age 50 don't get enough vitamin-D every day.
After fifty, deficiencies affect as much as 95% of the population.
Let the Evidence Shine... You Need More Vitamin-D
Many studies show that this super nutrient provides a myriad of specific health benefits like:
• Research reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition correlated widespread D deficiency with osteoporosis, increased cancer risks, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
Increased, but safe, sun exposure is a way to counteract this deficiency.
• Studies show that vitamin-D reduces the risks of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Your risk of mortality from each of these deadly cancers falls as your D levels rise.
• More research shows that adequate vitamin- D levels help to control blood pressure levels in patients with high blood pressure.
It also helps control blood glucose levels in patients with adult-onset diabetes.
The most natural and effective way to get adequate vitamin-D levels is from sunshine.
You want to be sure you get enough sunlight, that you get safe sun exposure, and that you know how to give your vitamin D levels a boost when sun exposure isn't enough.
Sunshine: Get What You Need to Prevent Deadly Disease
The big concern most people have about sun exposure is skin cancer.
The vast majority of skin cancers are basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas.
Both of these cancers need attention and you want to avoid them, but they are not deadly cancers.
The third type of skin cancer-melanoma, is very serious and can be deadly.
However, safe sun exposure can help protect you against this skin cancer.
Research shows that people who get regular sun exposure as part of their jobs are less likely to get melanoma skin cancer than people who work inside all the time.
So, let's give the rules of safe sun exposure to you in three basic steps.
1. Expose as much of your skin as possible, within reason and circumstances.
A swimsuit is perfect.
2. Depending on your pigmentation, go out in the sun for at least 10 to 20 minutes, two or three times a week.
If you are fair-skinned, your body can make enough in just minutes.
If you have darker skin or a deep tan, it will take longer for you to get the amount you need.
3. Do not allow your skin to burn.
This is so very important.
A sunburn will damage your skin, can certainly contribute to all three types of skin cancer and cause aging changes in your skin.
You want to get your dose safely, and that means getting out of the sun or putting on protective clothing before you burn.
If you live in the southern states, then this is all you need to know to keep your D levels high year round.
However, if you live anywhere north of Georgia, then you need to give your body a boost in the winter months.
The low angle of the sun during those months prevents the synthesis that your body needs.
Crucial Information About Supplementation
One of the most important things to keep in mind if you opt for oral supplementation is that you only want to supplement with natural vitamin-D3 (cholecalciferol), which is human vitamin-D.
I wouldn't necessarily recommend using the synthetic and highly inferior vitamin-D2.
This is typically prescribed by many well intentioned doctors who seek to take advantage of a patient's prescription coverage.
Unfortunately this form is far more expensive than the real D3, which is one of the least expensive vitamins we have.
But more importantly it does not work nearly as well as D3 and can actually block the real D3 from working properly.
Bottom line: Only use vitamin-D3 when supplementing.
GrassrootsHealth has greatly contributed to the current knowledge on this super vitamin through what's called the D* Action Study.
They published their first paper in 2011, which includes data on about 3,500 people.
One interesting finding is that it's not nearly as easy to reach toxic levels with oral supplementation as previously thought.
According to Carole Baggerly:
One very significant thing shown by this research was that even with taking the supplement, the curve for the increase is not linear.
It is curvilinear and it flattens, which is why it's even hard to get toxic with a supplement.
As mentioned earlier, based on this research, it now appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU's per day in order to get their serum levels above 40 ng/ml.
Not only is this significantly higher than previously recommended, but this also means that even if you do not regularly monitor your D levels, your risk of overdosing is going to be fairly slim, even if you take as much as 8,000 IU's a day.
It’s important to remember that if you’re taking high dose D3 supplements, you also need to take vitamin-K2.
The biological role of K2 is to help move calcium into the proper areas in your body, such as your bones and teeth.
It also helps remove calcium from areas where it shouldn’t be, such as in your arteries and soft tissues.
K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin-D toxicity, which includes inappropriate calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries.
The reason for this is because when you take vitamin-D, your body creates more K2-dependent proteins that move calcium around in your body.
Without K2, those proteins remain inactivated, so the benefits of those proteins remain unrealized.
So remember, if you take supplemental D, you're creating an increased demand for K2.
Together, these two nutrients help strengthen your bones and improve your heart health.
While the ideal or optimal ratios between D and K2 have yet to be determined, we suggest that for every 1,000 IU's of D3 you take, you may benefit from about 100 micrograms of K2, and perhaps as much as 150-200 micrograms (mcg).
So, if you take 8,000 IU's of D3 per day, that means you'd need in the neighborhood of 800 to 1,000 micrograms (0.8 to 1 milligram/mg) of vitamin-K2.
Lastly, remember that your D requirements are highly individual, as your vitamin-D status is dependent on numerous factors, so while 8,000 IU’s of D3 per day may put you closer to the ballpark of what most people likely need, it is impossible to make a blanket recommendation that will cover everyone's needs.
The only way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested.
Ideally, you'll want to maintain a vitamin-D serum level of 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
And, here's a great recipe to up your intake of this super important nutrient;
Baked Halibut with Herbs
With this recipe, in just 15 minutes you'll have a wonderful halibut dish; the fresh herbs are the key to the light sauce that makes this recipe taste great.
This recipe is also a great way to add more omega-3 fatty acids to your meals.
4 ounces of halibut fulfills 26% of your daily value for those hard-to-find nutrients as well as 76% of your daily value for selenium!
And, you get all of this for a minimal number of calories and fat!
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 lb. halibut steak or fillet, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbs. lemon juice
3 med. cloves garlic, pressed
2 Tbs. capers
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450.
Press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out its health-promoting benefits.
Place the fish in a baking dish just large enough to hold them, and add remaining ingredients.
Cover, and bake until done, about 15 minutes; don't overcook.
Serve at once, pouring the pan juices over the fish.
Makes 4 ServingsTweet
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