Vitamin D: Your Nutrition Source
Updated: Nov 1
Vitamin D is a nutrient we eat and a hormone we make. It's stored in our bodies as a fat-soluble vitamin to be used as needed.
Many tissues have Vitamin D receptors such as the breast, prostate, muscle, lung, skin, lymph nodes, colon, pancreas, and brain. Activated forms of Vitamin D are responsible for regulating 1000 different genes! Let's learn more about the amazing benefits of this vitamin.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It can be produced in the skin by UVB rays or consumed within our diet. This form is called Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol. A second type, Vitamin D2 ergocalciferol, which is generally found in supplements and is made by fungi, is less effective since it is harder for the body to absorb.
Although it is usually in the form of D2, vitamin D can be found in foods including oily fish, eggs, cod liver oil, and fortified meals. Vitamin D3 is what is measured in blood work. In order to be utilized it requires enzymes that carry it to the liver where it is converted to 25 (OH) D aka 25 Hydroxyvitamin D; however, this is still considered inactive. It is then transported to the kidneys where it functions like a hormone and helps with increased calcium and phosphorus absorption in the intestines. This helps to build bone.
Vitamin D is essential in protecting us from a variety of issues including:
Type 1 Diabetes
Vitamin D and Pain
In fact, a lack of vitamin D can make muscles weaker and cause aches and pains. The science underlying how this is possible involves intricate biochemistry.
Here are the fundamentals:
Low Vitamin D can cause poor intestinal calcium absorption
Decreased levels of calcium cause our parathyroid glands to become more active to begin their search for more calcium
This causes our phosphate levels to drop which prevents appropriate bone formation
Our cells are still hard at work during this process which then causes the bones to be weaker due to the lack of minerals in the body
Vitamin D deficiency can cause our inflammatory molecules to be overexposed and our anti-inflammatory molecules to be underexposed. This is a contributing factor to chronic inflammation. In most cases, if a patient comes to the clinic with chronic aches and pains that haven't improved after trying chiropractic therapy, we can examine their diet and supplement regimen (within the bounds of each state's scope of practice) to see whether they might require new supplements or what they may be lacking.
For individuals who are having deficiency symptoms, our office has a Metagenics Vitamin D3 5000IU supplement. Furthermore, we offer Thorne Labs Vitamin / K2 that contains 1000IU of Vitamin D3. These are the superior types of vitamin D, which is why we really appreciate them. Your primary care doctor may prescribe Vitamin D, which comes in the ergocalciferol (D2) form and typically comes in doses of 10,000 IU once a week.
What should I look for when supplementing Vitamin D into my diet?
RDA: The Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults 19 years and older is 600 IU (15 mcg) daily for men and women, and for adults >70 years it is 800 IU (20 mcg) daily.
UL: The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects on health. The UL for vitamin D for adults and children ages 9+ is 4,000 IU (100 mcg).
RDA is 600 IUs
4000-8000 IUs per day may be needed simply to maintain optimal blood levels
We know that breastfeeding can contribute to a variety of nutrient depletion. The Vitamin D content in breast milk is dependent on the mother’s intake as well. A typical breastfeeding mom should have 2000 IUs of Vitamin D3 daily and is shown to have a higher vitamin D content in their breast milk.
Exclusively breastfed infants should typically take Vitamin D3 supplements of 400 IUs daily until they are weaned.
15-30 minutes of full body noonday sun (UVB rays) will generate >10,000 IUs. And no, tanning beds do not produce UVB rays they produce UVA rays so they won’t help you make any additional vitamin D!
A brief moment for K2
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are required for blood coagulation as well as controlling calcium binding in bone and other tissues. For this reason, we prefer to combine it with vitamin D. It performs a range of health-related tasks, including the mineralization of bones and teeth. (Taking it supplementally is different from the shot that infants get after birth; that is typically for blood clotting and can be discussed further with your pediatrician).
Blood test results can differ from person to person, but generally speaking, your primary care physician considers levels between 30 and 100 ng/ml to be normal. However, normal ranges are statistical averages from a typical population and this includes healthy and unhealthy people. The actual optimal level is between 65 and 75 ng/ml. So let's take a look at a patient who visits the doctor with bloodwork revealing Vitamin D levels of 19ng/ml. Considering Optimal Levels, that is "severely deficient" by medical standards and even worse.
It is important to emphasize supplementation beginning in the fall and continuing through the winter. The considerable number of health problems we discussed above may arise because we simply do not obtain enough vitamin D from sunlight during the winter.
Vitamin D deficiency may occur from a lack in the diet, poor absorption, or having a metabolic need for higher amounts. A shortage may occur if a person does not consume enough vitamin D in their diet and does not spend enough time in the sun's UV rays. Vitamin D also regulates many other cellular functions in your body. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties support immune health, muscle function, and brain cell activity.
This is your friendly reminder that in order to maintain peak health during the winter, it's important to have your vitamin D levels checked frequently and supplement as necessary!
By: Dr. Abby Kellogg
Chiropractor at ANH Wellness
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