Why Vitamin D is Important: and Which Form is Best
Mar 02, 2015 05:48PM
By David C. Morcom
The sun is the source of life, and vitamin D is our closest physiological connection to it. According to recent studies, more than 75 percent of the population has inadequate levels of vitamin D in their blood, with 40 percent considered dangerously deficient especially common in African-American and Hispanic populations.
Vitamin D is actually a potent hormone that regulates the expression of hundreds of genes that are essential to our physiological and psychological well-being. Vitamin D3 is the bioactive form that the body best utilizes.The D2 form, found in fortified milk and high-dose prescription, has been shown in meta-studies to be actually much less effective overall.
Modern medicine has always recognized vitamin D’s role in calcium absorption and is finally coming to acknowledge its benefits for immune health and cancer protection. Now there is evidence that suggests that vitamin D deficiency is implicated in autoimmune disorders, heart failure, cognitive decline, metabolic disorders such as diabetes and overall cardiovascular health.
Vitamin D also indirectly induces the synthesis of more than 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This is one reason why it can be so effective against colds and influenza. We don’t need synthetic antibiotics when we can stimulate our body’s production of its own.Thus, the higher our vitamin D level, the lower our risk of contracting flu, colds and other respiratory tract infections.
The ideal way to stimulate adequate vitamin D production is by exposure to ultraviolet light. All we need is 10 to 20 minutes of direct sunlight daily, depending on location, time of day, season and how dark our skin is. The darker the skin, the more time in the sun is needed for adequate production. Because vitamin D is synthesized in our skin and has to be absorbed first to be converted to its active form, avoid washing off natural skin oils after sunbathing.
Eat vitamin D-rich foods such as herring, duck eggs, Bluefin tuna, trout, eel, mackerel, sardines, chicken eggs, beef liver and pork. Most milk is not a good source of vitamin D, however, because it contains the wrong form. Most people do not eat enough vitamin D-rich foods and don’t get enough daily sunlight, either because of where they live or our modern indoor lifestyle. This is why supplementation, especially in fall and winter, is so important. Always take vitamin D with food that has some fat content to maximize absorption of this fat-soluble vitamin.
Traditionally, the official recommended daily allowance for vitamin D has been 400 international units (IU). This is enough to ward off a serious condition like rickets, but not enough for optimal functioning and well-being. The best way to individualize dosing for individual needs is by working with a qualified healthcare professional and getting vitamin D serum level testing.
Most people can safely start supplementing to raise their vitamin D level without testing. However, testing can determine if an individual is dangerously deficient, so they can be more aggressive with their dosage to increase levels faster. There are different types of vitamin D level testing, so make sure to seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional that will order the correct test.
David C. Morcomis a doctor of pharmacy and herbal specialist with Integrative Wellness Rx. For more information, visit IntegrativeWellnessRX.com.