By Joshua Corn
Guest Writer for Wake Up World
By now, you’re probably aware of the importance of vitamin D. Beyond supporting strong bones and muscles, a healthy immune system and an active brain, research shows that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels can help you avoid a wide range of chronic health problems and live a longer, healthier life.[1,2,3]
The unfortunate fact, however, is that most of us have critically low levels of vitamin D, due to the fact that we don’t spend enough time in the sun. And when we do venture outdoors, we often go out of our way to “protect” ourselves from the sun’s ravages.
Guess What? You’re Probably Vitamin D Deficient
Unfortunately, despite growing awareness of the role vitamin D plays in maintaining optimal health, leading experts estimate that up to 75% of all adults are low in vitamin D! The problem is that most people mistakenly assume that their vitamin D levels are just fine, even though the odds are stacked against them. The fact is, unless you are taking steps to maintain healthy vitamin D levels, you are most likely vitamin D deficient.
Why Are So Many People at Risk?
Vitamin D deficiency has become a global epidemic for one simple reason: people don’t get enough sun exposure. The human body only produces vitamin D in response to ultraviolet rays from the sun. While our bodies are designed to spend most of our time outdoors, the majority of us spend our days confined inside buildings. Ultraviolet rays cannot penetrate glass, so even if you’re in a car or in a sunny room, your body is not producing vitamin D.
Additionally, your body’s vitamin D production becomes less efficient with age, and the fact that people are living longer means that a growing number of older people are severely deficient.
Don’t Get Scammed: The Sun Is Not “Evil”
For years now, misinformed doctors, as well as the sunscreen and cosmetics industries, have made the sun out to be the “boogey man.” They advise that the sun’s rays are very damaging, and this has scared us into believing that we should never so much as leave the house without wearing sunscreen.
Yet breakthrough research has shown that wearing sunscreen significantly interferes with the body’s ability to produce vitamin D from sun exposure. In fact, many experts now recommend limited daily exposure to the sun without sunscreen. (To learn more, please see: BURN: Health Impacts of Sunscreen Found to be Worse Than UV Damage.)
However, for most people, the issue is more about not being able to spend enough time outside to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D regardless.
What Are the Signs of Deficiency?
Vitamin D deficiency may be symptomless at first, but as it progresses it often causes depression, cognitive problems, chronic pain, fragile bones and a weak immune system. Even more troubling is that studies have linked low vitamin D levels to increased risk for serious health conditions that can result in premature death.[5,6,7]
Sadly, many people are given a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs to “treat” a simple nutritional deficiency. If you have any nagging concerns that your doctor seemingly can’t resolve, increasing your body’s vitamin D levels may just be the natural remedy you’ve been searching for.
Protect Yourself from Deficiency
The two way to get vitamin D in the amounts you need for optimal health is sun exposure. Although we can find many foods in the supermarket that have been fortified with a synthetic form of Vitamin D, there are only a select number of foods containing vitamin D in them naturally. (To learn more, please see: 10 Foods High in Vitamin D.)
Unless you happen to work outdoors, nutritionally supplementing your vitamin D intake is a must. However, as Dr. Alexander Wunsch (physician, researcher and expert in photobiology) notes, it is worth being mindful of the potential downside to vitamin D supplements:
“… if you administer vitamin D orally, it signals your system that you have lots of UV around you. This might even start processes that are not adequate because your skin didn’t actually have the exposure. … Another aspect that is still unclear is if orally administered vitamin D really reaches the skin layers where you normally need it as well, in the keratinocyte layer.”
For this reason, you may eventually want to get your vitamin D levels tested by your doctor, however, I personally recommend you don’t wait to start increasing your levels. Vitamin D is one of the least toxic substances known, so it’s difficult to overdo it. And the bottom line is that, with so many health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency, you’re probably better safe than sorry.
Get the Right Type of Vitamin D
Your doctor is most likely to recommend vitamin D2, which is the synthetic form of vitamin D. Why? Because the pharmaceutical companies cannot patent natural compounds, so in order to make money, they have to create and market synthetic versions — even if they are proven to be less effective than the real thing.
Since your doctor is unlikely to send you to the store to pick up a natural dietary supplement, he or she will probably write you a prescription for the synthetic D2 version, which has been shown to be poorly absorbed and less effective than the natural form. Just because your doctor commonly prescribes it doesn’t mean it’s more effective! The better option is generally agreed to be vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol). It’s more readily absorbed and provides the greatest benefits.
Get Enough Vitamin D
Most people who do take vitamin D take way too little, because the current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is set at only 600 IU. Most experts now agree that this is woefully inadequate. Despite pleas from the scientific community and public health leaders, the government has stubbornly refused to increase the RDA, putting millions at risk unnecessarily. The reason behind this is unknown, but many people think that the strong influence of the food and pharmaceutical industry lobbies plays a role.
According to Dr. John Cannell, Director of the non-profit Vitamin D Council, healthy adults should supplement with 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily to avoid deficiency and achieve superior health.
Vitamin D Doesn’t Work All by Itself
If you take supplemental vitamin D3, it’s equally important to make sure that you’re getting adequate amounts of the nutrients that team up with vitamin D to ensure optimal utilization within the body. Based on the latest research, here are vitamin D’s most important partners:
- Magnesium: Involved in every stage of vitamin D metabolism. Having adequate amounts present is critical to proper utilization of vitamin D.
- Zinc: Each vitamin D receptor has a zinc molecule that is needed to receive vitamin D. In absence of zinc, it will not be properly absorbed.
- Boron: Necessary for the rapid action of vitamin D on the cellular wall. Being deficient in this nutrient can cause low vitamin D levels.
- Vitamin C: Vitamins C and D work together synergistically to support the body’s immune system, as well as to boost overall antioxidant levels.
- Vitamin K2: Works with vitamin D to ensure that calcium is stored in the bones and not on the walls of blood vessels.
- 1. Semba RD, et al. Relationship of 25-hydroxyvitamin D with all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in older community-dwelling adults. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2010 Feb; 64 (2): 203-9.
- 2. Zittermann A, et al. Vitamin D deficiency and mortality. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Nov; 12 (6): 634-9.
- 3. Pilz S, et al. Vitamin D and mortality in older men and women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Nov; 71 (5): 666-72.
- 4. Norman AW, Bouillon R. Vitamin D nutritional policy needs a vision for the future. Exp Biol Med.2010 Sep; 235(9): 1034-1045.
- 5. Ingraham BA, et al. Molecular basis of the potential of vitamin D to prevent cancer. Curr Med Res Opin. 2008 Jan; 24 (1): 139-49.
- 6. Krishnan AV, et al. The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention and treatment. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2010 Jun; 39 (2): 401-18, table of contents.
- 7. Wang TJ, et al. Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation. 2008 Jan 29; 117 (4): 503-11.
- 8. Bjelakovic G, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD007470.
Previous articles by Joshua Corn:
- 2013: The Year People Finally Start to Get It?
- 5 Reasons to Avoid Plastic Containers
- Diet Drinks: The Biggest Marketing Scam of All Time?
- Antidepressants in Tap Water Linked to Autism
About the author:
Joshua Corn is the Editor-in-Chief of the natural health and wellness site, Live in the Now. Josh is a health freedom advocate and veteran of the natural health industry. He has been actively involved in the natural health movement for over 15 years, and has been dedicated to the promotion of health, vitality, longevity and natural living throughout his career.
Josh has successfully overcome several personal health challenges through natural means, and believes that sharing information can empower people to take control of their health so they can solve their own problems and live life to its fullest potential.
Josh is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Live in the Now. Additionally he serves as CEO of SAN, a company that has been formulating premium dietary supplements since 1995. Josh is currently working on his first book about natural health, and gearing up to launch the Live in the Now radio show.
In addition to his work in the natural health field, Josh is an avid outdoorsman, yoga practitioner, animal lover and father of two sons who remind him every day to “live in the now”.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
This article was republished with permission from Live in the Now, one of the fastest growing natural health newsletters. Visit LiveInTheNow.com to browse their complete library of articles, or join the nearly 60,000 readers subscribed to their Newsletter.