By Eva Wisenbeck 01/11/2020
Please check your Vitamin D status!
Why is your Vitamin D level important
A vitamin D deficiency is associated with multiple chronic conditions including the leading causes of mortality. Vitamin D deficiencies have been found to play a role in many conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis, and many other health conditions. Having optimal levels of vitamin D is critical for good overall health.
Vitamin D plays an important role in both innate and adaptive immune responses. The active form of Vitamin D plays a key role in maintaining immune homeostasis.
D3 is an immunomodulator targeting various immune cells, including monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, as well as T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes. Several epidemiological studies have linked inadequate vitamin D levels to a higher susceptibility of immune-mediated disorders including chronic infections and autoimmune diseases
And when it comes to Covid-19?
“There are now close to 30 or so studies demonstrating that having optimal blood levels of 25(OH)-vitamin D (75-150 nmol/L) reduces covid-19 risks: reduced risk of infection; reduced risk of severe disease; reduced risk of dying. Many researchers now regard the evidence as ‘overwhelming’. Despite this, there still will be those who say that we need ‘more research’, but in the meantime, there is little to be lost, vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and have low risk of toxicity, and a huge amount to gain by recommending a decent daily dose of vitamin.” – A rapid response in the BMJ
How to test your Vitamin D level
Serum 25(OH)D is the best marker of vitamin D status. It reflects vitamin D produced by the body and that obtained from food and supplements. 25(OH)D has a circulating half-life of 15 days.
Vitamin D is tested by a simple blood test, you can either go to your doctor and ask for a test or most pharmacies can also arrange for a private test. There are many you can simply order online and do at home with a pin prick test (most require about 10 drops of blood from the tip of a finger). You will be able to get your result after a few days or maybe up to a week after the test is done.
And please as we talked about on the podcast – make sure you get your number not just a “you’re within the normal range” as this can mean anything really and is not helpful when it comes to deciding if and how much to supplement with.
What are approximate reference ranges?
Not only does the recommended levels vary from country to country but also from expert to expert. Start by looking at your nations or health care providers recommendations and also think about you and your starting point, health, age, situation, location etc.
Here is a guide to get your started:
Even though, there is still debate about how much we actually need, most experts agree that below 25 nmol/L (or 10 ng/ml) is considered deficient. Levels this low are associated with bone diseases like rickets or osteomalacia.
Some experts argue 25-30 nmol/L in the blood is sufficient, some say over 50 nmol/L is optimal for good bone health for most people, while others again advocate for 75 nmol/L or even higher.
Excess or toxic levels of vitamin D are thought be over 250 nmol/L (100 ng/ml), but again there are many views on this. Vitamin D or 25(OH)D concentration can be very high before hypercaelcemia occurs. Several studies suggest it is safe to have a 25(OH)D concentration of 300 nmol/L (120ng/ml).
So what is Vitamin D
Vitamin D is often called the “sunshine vitamin” because the primary source of Vitamin D is exposure to the sun. When sun exposure is limited, it is important to obtain vitamin D from other sources. The best food sources of vitamin D are egg yolks, fatty fish, liver, and grass-fed cheese and butter.
Vitamin D is unique in that it functions as a prohormone. Prohormones are substances that the body converts to a hormone.
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that can be produced by our bodies. While other vitamins must be taken in through diet or supplementation, our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun.
Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble. Vitamin D, along with vitamins A, E, and K, are fat soluble which means they need a source of fat to be absorbed. Fat soluble vitamins can accumulate in the body’s tissue.
There are two main types of vitamin D, D2 and D3. They are different in several ways.
Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is sourced from the UV irradiation of ergosterol. Ergosterol is a steroid found in some plants but largely in fungi. The best source of D2 is mushrooms grown in UV light. D2 is synthesized by plants and is not produced by the body.
Vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol) is synthesized by UV irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3. Specifically, ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight triggers the formation of vitamin D3. D3 is also found in animal-sources such as salmon, egg yolks, and beef.
Studies have shown that vitamin D3 has a more significant and positive effect in raising serum 25(OH)D concentrations than D2.
If you have a deficiency, you can correct it with approximately 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day for 3 months. For maintenance, approximately 2,000 to 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D3. There is as always cautions, a small number of people have a genetic problem with Vitamin D, such as sufferers from Sarcoidosis (too sensitive) or Coeliac disease (not sensitive enough) so please consult with your doctor!
How much sunshine
The calculation is not as simple as saying you should spend so-many minutes in the sun, because it’s not just any sunlight that helps you make vitamin D, but specifically the same UVB rays that cause sunburns. We only get a significant amount of UVB rays when conditions are right: the sun needs to be shining somewhat directly down on you. If you live near the equator that includes the middle of every day. For the rest of us, we get our best vitamin D time in the middle of the day in the summer.
Your UVB needs also depend on factors like:
· Your altitude
· How dark your skin is, and how easily you tan
· How old you are
· How much clothing you’re wearing
So how do you know how much Vitamin D you can get on any particular day in your location?
Firstly here is an app you can use to track, D-Minder: http://dminder.ontometrics.com/
And here are a few other resources such as spreadsheets etc: https://vitamindwiki.com/UV+and+Vitamin+D+calculators
What About Sunscreen
Sunscreens block the UV rays from the sun, so wearing sunscreen may inhibit your body from producing vitamin D. While it is important to avoid excessive sun exposure, inadequate sun exposure contributes to vitamin D deficiency.
Another important consideration is that many of the sunscreens commercially available contain chemicals that are toxic to the body. A recent study found that the chemicals in sunscreen enter the bloodstream at high levels and remain in the body for at least 24 hours after the use of sunscreen. In the study, researchers found that avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene, ecamsule, the active ingredients in sunscreens, were absorbed into systemic circulation at dangerous levels.
Where does Vitamin K2 come in to the picture
So I will start by saying, right now in the world we are living in, if you test your Vitamin D status and find out that you are at the lower end, or even mid, of the scale, please start supplementing with Vitamin D for the autumn and winter!
If you are curious, have the time and inclination then yes absolutely look further into Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is synergistic with Vitamin D and particularly important for bone health and artery health.
In the long run too much Vitamin D without balanced Vitamin K2 can lead to among other things excessive calcification that can contribute to the hardening of your arteries.
One of the functions of vitamin K2 is to direct calcium to areas in your body where it is needed, such as your bones and teeth. It also functions to keep calcium away from areas where it shouldn’t be, including your soft tissues and arteries.
According to 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"
The optimal ratios between vitamin D and K2 have yet to be determined. However, Dr. Rheaume-Bleue recommends that for every 1,000 IUs of vitamin D, you can benefit from about 100 to 200 micrograms of vitamin K2.
If you are curious and would like more information about Vitamin D and the latest research here are some great resources.
Dr Jockers “Vitamin D Deficiency: Common Symptoms and Solutions” https://drjockers.com/vitamin-d-deficiency/
Clinical Education “So How Much Vitamin D do I Need?” https://www.clinicaleducation.org/resources/reviews/so-how-much-vitamin-d-do-i-need/
Vitamin Movie “VITAMIN D: KNOW YOUR NUMBER” https://www.vitamaniathemovie.com/vitamin-d-levels/
The BMJ “Rapid Responses” https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m3872/rapid-responses
Endocrine Society “Study finds over 80 percent of COVID-19 patients have vitamin D deficiency” https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/2020/study-finds-over-80-percent-of-covid19-patients-have-vitamin-d-deficiency
Mark Hyman “Vitamin D – Why You are Probably NOT Getting Enough” https://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/24/vitamin-d-why-you-are-probably-not-getting-enough/
D-Minder, Sunshine (Vitamin D) app http://dminder.ontometrics.com/
Sunshine resources for Vitamin D uptake https://vitamindwiki.com/UV+and+Vitamin+D+calculators