What is Vitamin D anyways?
Vitamin D is actually both a hormone and a vitamin. Our bodies produce it naturally (hormone) from sun exposure but it can also be obtained from some food sources (vitamin). Vitamin D is produced when UVB light (between wave lengths 290-320nm) hits the skin and is synthesized by cholesterol, 7-dehydrocholesterol (yes, cholesterol isn’t some evil thing that some people may suggest) in the epidermis. This conversion creates pre vitamin D or Cholecalciferol.
From here, the pre-vitamin D is collected by a binding protein and brought to the liver.
Once in the liver, it goes through a process called “hydroxylation” which produces Calcidiol, aka 25(OH)D or D2 which is the storage/non active form of the vitamin.
The active form is Calcitriol, aka 1,25(OH)2 or activated D3. This production happens again by hydroxylation, only it happens in the kidneys this time.
All of these conversions requires MAGNESIUM.
Want to test your levels? You should test your 25(OH) and 1,25(OH)2 levels in addition to your Red Blood Cell Magnesium levels. Many doctors will run a serum Magnesium test so be sure to get the RBC. You can not get to activated D3 without magnesium! So keeping your magnesium in optimal range is just as important as watching your D levels.
Why are we so deficient in something that can be obtained by just being outside?
- Production happens during specific hours that most people are indoors
- Darker skin requires more time in the sun
- Most of the population wears sun screen which prevents up to 90% of vitamin D production
- If you live in the North the sunlight wave lengths are not optimal for vitamin D production.
- As we age our skins ability to produce D3 from the sun and cholesterol decreases
Why is vitamin D so important anyway?
If you’ve been struggling with losing weight, low vitamin D levels probably aren’t the first thing you think of. Adequate vitamin D levels play a role in our adiponectin (protein that regulates glucose levels & fatty acid breakdown) and leptin (hormone that tells you that you’re full) levels which affects our weight. Both of these factors lead to why being D-ficient increases our diabetes risk.
Many children on the autism spectrum (or other chronic illnesses) are vitamin D deficient and also are plagued with many pathogens. Why?
Vitamin D assists our White Blood Cells in clearing infections. It stimulates immune cells to produce a protein (cathelicidin) in our skin. Cathelicidin helps to defend us from viruses and bacteria. This protein also exists in our gut and helps to protect our gut lining (leaky gut). In the gut the protein is activated by certain bacteria which produce large amounts of light. Our cells need adequate DHA levels for the signal to be read properly.
Since we know we need more vitamin D, how do we get it?
- Go outside! For peak absorption, you’ll want to spend at least 15 minutes (or 30 if you have darker skin) with a large portion of skin exposed
- Get your sun when the sun is high in the sky, your shadow should be smaller than you
- If getting outdoors isn’t an option or you live in a particularly cloud covered/northern area, then supplementation should come from natural sources
I highly recommend downloading the app “D Minder”. It’s free and takes into consideration your location and skin type to tell you approximately how much vitamin D you are absorbing from the sun. It will also tell you the optimal times of the day for producing more D.
While your outside soaking up all that wonderful Vitamin D, be barefoot! Earthing is yet another free thing you can do to help your body heal and has amazing health benefits.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of earthing? Check out my post here.
- This product is a highly recommended natural form of Vitamin D which is balanced with Vitamin A, its co-factor
- Vitamin D deficiency is strongly related to a magnesium deficiency, if you’re having trouble getting your levels up, look into magnesium supplementation