Sunlight and Vitamin D
In this guide, HP, we will examine and review the following:
The basic facts on Vitamin D, but some questions might remain: How should you get vitamin D? How much should you get, and when should you worry about your levels? In light of these common questions, let’s clarify some confusion about vitamin D.
Want to skip the science? Just tell me what to do press here.
What is vitamin D? Is it a hormone or vitamin?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that we should get from the sun, certain foods, and if necessary, depending on lifestyle and a true deficiency, with whole food supplementation.
“Vitamin D” is complex and orchestrates a group of compounds and organs that deliver a beautiful melody.
Que in the key players:
- Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is made by converting a sterol found in plants (such as mushrooms) and yeasts. D2 is commonly found in dietary supplements.
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) comes from animal products like fish, egg yolks, and cheese. Vitamin D3 is produced naturally on the surface of our skin when we’re exposed to ultraviolet B light. New research indicates the sulfated form of Vitamin D3 is the best form to transport it in our body.
- Calcifediol (25-hydroxyvitamin D) in the form of vitamin D is measured in blood tests. It starts with vitamin D3, but once vitamin D3 enters your bloodstream, your liver converts it into calcifediol.
- Calcitriol (1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D) is the most metabolically active form of vitamin D. It’s created in your kidneys from calcifediol. But, unlike its precursor vitamin D3, calcitriol is no longer considered a vitamin: It’s a hormone.
The body is a fantastic performance, just like Bill Withers singing “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.” Every compound has its note, sunlight, the sheet music, and each organ must play along. The love affair unfolds:
How does the body process vitamin D? An overview.
After vitamin D is absorbed through the skin or acquired from food or supplements, it gets stored in the body’s fat cells. Here it remains inactive until it’s needed. Then, through hydroxylation, the liver and kidneys turn the stored vitamin D into the active form the body needs (called calcitriol). The vitamin is now considered a hormone.
Ok, so what’s the big deal about Vitamin D anyway?
Research states that every cell of our body has receptors for vitamin D. There is a wide range of roles it plays in the body, but here is a concise overview.
Vitamin D helps support your:
- immune system
- cell function
- blood sugar regulation
- bone health
- calcium absorption and circulation
- normal blood pressure
Now, are you getting the lyrics? It is essential to us.
How much do you need?
General recommendations for vitamin D intake:
|Age||Recommended daily vitamin D intake|
|0–12 months||400–1000 IU/d|
|1–18 years||600–1000 IU/d|
|18–70+ years||800–2000 IU/d|
|Pregnant / breastfeeding (>18 years)||800–2000 IU/d|
Most healthy adults should maintain an adequate blood level of vitamin D by getting about 800-1000 IU daily of vitamin D from both food and exposure to sunlight.
The more Vitamin D you take, the better? Absolutely not.
That’s a misconception. Vitamin D is stored in fat. So, if you’re a small person and getting large doses, you have less available storage, which means vitamin D goes into your blood, and you may absorb too much calcium, creating a toxic situation. And it’s unclear how long you have until you exceed the upper limits of vitamin D intake before it becomes dangerous.
It is necessary to work with your medical doctor or a knowledgeable health practitioner to figure out the right dose for you and for how long to take it. If you are tested and come back with a severe deficiency, you may need to take more Vitamin D therapeutically until resolved. If not, then a further look into the lifestyle and function of your liver and kidneys is optimal.
How do you know you are deficient in vitamin D – listen to Dr. Robin from Parsely Health, NYC, in this short video here.
If you suspect a deficiency, get an accurate blood test before using any supplementation.
Blood tests for vitamin D include the active and storage forms. You want to ask your doctor to test for both the Vitamin D 1,25 Dihydroxy (Calcitrol) (Active) and Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy (Storage). Hello Palate works with your doctor to discuss results and optimal ranges, then prepares a customized nutritional program. If your doctor questions your request to test for both active and storage, politely invite him to read this research and paper here.
Due to the critical roles, vitamin D plays in the body, monitoring vitamin D status has become routine. Still, I recommend recurrent testing to ensure sufficient levels during the winter and spring and the summer and fall months for optimal health or coping with specific health conditions like autoimmune conditions to cardiovascular health.
How to Get Your Vitamin D ?
Vitamin D comes from three sources: sunlight, specific food, and, more commonly in supplements. Yet, we often forget the role of our organs, including the skin, liver, and kidney, play in synthesizing it into bio-available form. Remember, it’s not what we eat, but an optimal function of our body is as essential. So, first, let’s review the sources and then the process.
You are the Sunshine of my Life … hands down, the best source is from the sun.
Many people can meet their vitamin D requirements through sunshine alone. There is the nuance or perhaps the modern-day problem with our love/hate relationship with the sun. We may be fearful of sun exposure, or possibly our lifestyle doesn’t expose us to sunlight. I do believe and highly recommend we can practice smart sun exposure.
The truth is, it doesn’t take much sun exposure for the body to produce vitamin D. A standard guideline for sun exposure is no more than 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to arms, legs, abdomen, and back, two to three times a week, followed by good sun protection. That minor amount of exposure produces all the vitamin D your body can muster. After that, your body automatically starts to dispose of vitamin D to avoid an overload of the vitamin, at which point your sun exposure is giving you nothing but sun damage without any of the presumed benefit.
An excellent general guideline: Get about 10-20 minutes a day of the midday sun, from 10 am to 2 pm, being savvy not to get burned depending on your skin type. Ask your doctor for your safe sun exposure and know your limit for your skin type.
Vitamin D and Supplementation
“Driven by the belief that the benefits of sunlight exposure are mainly due to vitamin D synthesis, the natural conclusion is that vitamin D supplements would achieve the same goal without the sun damage.”-Dr. Stephanie Seneff
New research is starting to surface in sulfate, cholesterol, and sunlight as significant players in vitamin D synthesis.
THE ROLE OF SULFATE and Vitamin D3 Sulfate
There is new research about the mineral Sulfur, Sulfation Pathway, and its role in Vitamin D3 synthesis.
Sulfur is involved with 100 biochemical processes. • Proteins need sulfur to maintain their shape. • Sulfur is required by enzymes to maintain their structure and to support their activity. In addition, sulfur supports a healthy immune system and detoxification pathways. • It is essential for Glutathione, the master antioxidant.
Sunlight exposure and our Overall Health
According to Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a researcher at MIT, heart disease may be related to cholesterol sulfate deficiency, and an elevated LDL cholesterol level is a sign of cholesterol sulfate deficiency. • LDL cholesterol, as a plaque on artery walls, produces cholesterol sulfate, which may be the body’s way of making up for the cholesterol sulfate deficiency. • Sunlight exposure could be part of the answer because the skin produces vitamin D3 sulfate when exposed to sunlight with adequate chlorophyll in the bloodstream. • Vitamin D3 sulfate is water-soluble and travels freely in the bloodstream, carrying essential sulfur where it is needed.
In her research, Seneff identified what she describes as two critical and “mysterious” forms of sulfate: vitamin D3 sulfate and cholesterol sulfate. When exposed to sunlight, we simultaneously produce both molecules, which exist in the bloodstream and many other parts of the body.
Vitamin D and cholesterol share an essential biochemical connection. Cholesterol, though potentially harmful in large quantities, must be present for the body to make vitamin D. Sunlight acts as a bridge between the two nutrients, as ultraviolet B rays from the sun reach the skin and activate 7-hydrocholesterol, a chemical precursor of vitamin D, converting it to vitamin D3.
Vitamin D sulfate vs. Synthetic forms of D
While many people get their vitamin D3 from nutritional supplements, Seneff pointed to a significant difference between the type our bodies produce naturally and the kind that comes from a bottle.
In the presence of sunlight, skin cells produce vitamin D3 sulfate, a water-soluble form of the typically fat-soluble vitamin D. The sulfate form can travel freely throughout the bloodstream. But the vitamin D3 found in oral supplements is an unsulfated form that requires low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the so-called “bad” cholesterol — for transport to receptor sites in the body.
It is difficult to obtain the sulfated vitamin D3 from food sources alone, heightening the importance of sun exposure to achieving a healthy vitamin D status (Nair, R. & Maseeh, A. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012; 3(2): 118–126).
Therefore, this new research clarifies the importance of Sun exposure playing an essential role.
• Vitamin D3 supplements are unsulfured and, in this form, require LDL cholesterol as their vehicle of transportation. • Dr. Seneff postulates that oral unsulfured vitamin D3 does not provide the same heart health benefit as vitamin D made by the skin because it cannot convert the supplement form into vitamin D sulfate.
Are you eating foods that are high in Sulfurophane?
• Sulfurophane is the sulfur compound found in cruciferous vegetables, which are well-known for their cancer-fighting properties. • Sulfurophane supports detoxification activity in the liver by activating the Liver’s Phase 2 detoxification enzymes, the conveyor belt for the active form of sulfated vitamin D3 • People who have toxicity, such as heavy metals, will often have a deficiency in the sulfuration pathway, so increasing or supplementing with sulfur may help the body detox.
Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, its absorption depends on the gut’s ability to absorb dietary fat.
“Multiple factors affect vitamin D sufficiency, including the synthesis of vitamin D3 in the skin, the absorption of vitamin D3 and D2 from food in the intestine, vitamin D 25-hydroxylation activity in the liver, and a combination of 25OHD oxidation and conjugation reactions catalyzed principally in the kidney, liver, and small intestine (DeLuca, 1988; Jones et al., 2014).”
What’s the plan? What should you do?
- Get a blood test to establish Vitamin D levels. Call your doctor today. Blood tests for vitamin D include the active and storage forms. You want to ask your doctor to test for both the Vitamin D 1,25 Dihydroxy (Calcitrol) (Active) and Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy (Storage).
- Think food and how you can enjoy vitamin D-rich foods, including cod liver oil, salmon, pastured raised egg has about 10 percent of Vitamin D, sardines, mackerel. If you take supplements, take your most important meals that contain the most healthy fats and oil which can increase absorption by 50 percent.
- Understand the role of whole food synergy: We need sulfur, magnesium, boron, and K2 to properly utilize Vitamin D. Adding vitamin D to your body without these nutrients isn’t ideal. Cholesterol (75% made in the body) is needed for vitamin D usage. Magnesium is a co-factor required for the binding of vitamin D to its transport protein. Read more about new research on the sulfation pathways in Vitamin D3 synthesis. You’ll get K2 by consuming dairy from grass-fed ruminants, eggs, liver, beef, and chicken. K2 helps utilize Vitamin D and protects from toxicity if you have used or are using vitamin D supplementation. Boron is an essential co-factor of magnesium and is vital for calcium regulation, which ties into vitamin D usage.
- Practice smart Suncare: Depending on your skin type by practice safe sun exposure, spend between 5 to 15 minutes outside between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm twice a week without sunscreen with at least an arm and your face exposed to the sun.
- Decisions and Mindfulness: Are you meeting daily requirements? Take note if you are eating a whole food Vitamin D diet, safe sun exposure, cod liver oil, magnesium, eating alliums, healing your liver and kidneys? Perhaps, you may need to work on underlying infections, healing inflammation, and balancing minerals will be the big keys for fixing a true D deficiency.
Best quality Vitamin D supplementation
Most Synthetic Vitamin D brands contain lanolin, and it goes through a chemical transformation, including radiation, to make it into D3. I think we can do better to avoid this chemical process.
- Cod liver oil is one of the oldest supplements around. Luckily, they’ve managed to make it taste a little better now! Some good cod liver oil brands are Carlson’s Wild Alaskan, Garden of Life, or Nordic Naturals.
- Vegan brands that contain Lichen are another beneficial form of plant-based Vitamin D3.
- Ok, if you decide the above arent suitable, alternatively (though pricier in the short-term), The Sperti Vitamin D UVB lamp has been studied in protocols developed by Michael Holick MD, Ph.D. at Boston University.
Something to think about:
What we eat and how we absorb our food is very much dependent on the entirety of the music in our lives and how we prep for our body’s performance.
Being too hyper-focused on your food takes us away from where we need perspective by acknowledging where we came from, traumas, work, being home all day with kids, history of dieting, workouts, can influence how we feel. These things often require more time/attention and have a tremendous impact on utilizing precious resources from our meals.
When acknowledging the above, the interconnectedness allows you to catch up to your health.
*Disclaimer: The information contained in this presentation is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.