There’s a worldwide Vitamin D deficiency pandemic that’s making us very ill.
Even killing us.
Everyone from infants to adults.
It weakens your immune systems and makes you vulnerable to colds and flu. Not only that, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, stroke, insomnia, fibromyalgia, muscle weakness, depression and Alzheimer’s.
Even obesity, arthritis and upper respiratory infections.
The sad thing is… it’s completely avoidable.
But most people aren’t even aware of it.
The signs are subtle and often misdiagnosed. We’re given medication to address a symptom but the cause lies right below the surface waiting to be exposed. But often it’s missed – or dismissed.
If you’re pregnant or a nursing mother your risk is high. The same if you’re Hispanic or African American.
The answer is too simple. Or perhaps just ignored to push pills and “manage sickness” rather than prevent illness.
What makes matters worse is… we’ve been brainwashed about the solution by a certain segment of the medical community for the last 40 years.
The amazing thing is this – the solution cost you nothing. It’s available by simply walking outside.
It’s both prevention and treatment wrapped into one.
If I were to ask you what you thought the most common nutritional deficiency in the world was and followed it up with what you thought was the most common medical condition in the world, what would you guess?
Even if I gave you a hint that indicated they were both the same thing… I still don’t think most people would guess correctly.
Here’s the answer.
Lack of adequate exposure to the sun resulting in deficient levels of vitamin D. Insufficient levels of vitamin D is a disease of neglect and deficiency, which has made it the most common medical condition in the world.
The absence of vitamin D is the cause of much sickness and disease which can lead to chronic illness and death. Diseases like cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes can all be avoided with the appropriate amount of sun exposure and vitamin D supplementation.
Now, when I say it’s a disease of neglect, I don’t mean people or doctors intentionally neglect the fact that they may be deficient in vitamin D. But, it’s just not something the average person would think is that important.
If you have a migraine headache or your muscles hurt or you seem to be getting sick a lot – zeroing in on vitamin D as the problem is not what is uppermost in most people’s minds.
The first thing you want is relief. And if you get it from medication, chances are you’ll stop right there and not go any deeper as to what might be the cause.
People in general have no idea how powerful vitamin D is and the importance of making it part of their daily culture of health.
“Today there is evidence to link sun exposure and vitamin D to every facet of medicine and health.
Adequate levels of vitamin D can:
Improve fertility, safeguard pregnancy, reduce inflammation, help with weight control, protect against infectious diseases like the flu and tuberculosis, prevent strokes and dementia, bolster the immune system, boost memory and support muscle strength.
What all of this really means is that vitamin D may be “THE” most underappreciated and misunderstood antiaging secret. And unlike so many other antiaging “secrets,” this one is absolutely free.”1
We’ve known for some time that vitamin D helps make your bones and teeth stronger by helping your body absorb calcium. But now research has discovered that it’s intricately involved with every system in the body.
The primary role of vitamin D is cell management.
Every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor. If a cell has mutated, vitamin D can plug into the cell and help it repair itself. If the cell is beyond repair vitamin D will tell the cell it’s time to meet its maker and the cell checks out so as not to bring illness or disease to the rest of the body.
For this reason, vitamin D may be as important to your heart and brain as it is to healthy bones.
Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania concluded that vitamin D can prevent or slow the irreversible decline in respiratory function that over time leaves asthmatics even more vulnerable when afflicted by an asthma attack.
Not only that, scientist at Moores Cancer Center at the University of California at San Diego have speculated that insufficient levels of vitamin D may be the principal cause of cancer.
If you have high enough levels of vitamin D, you can stay in front of many types of illness, even cancer. If your levels are deficient, you open yourself up to many types of sickness and disease.
So, if I drink milk and fortified orange juice, and eat fish, I’m good, right?
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of foods that contain vitamin D. Yes, you can get it from fish but it has to be oily fish. The only vegetable that has it are mushrooms. They produce vitamin D similar to the way we do by exposing our skin to sun.
Milk only contains 100 iu (individual units) per 8 oz. glass. Even if you drank three glasses per day, that will still be woefully short of the daily amount of vitamin D needed.
In the minds of most people, Vitamin D is for strong bones and teeth and nothing else. Common thought is you can get all you need from drinking three glasses of milk per day. Done.
If that’s the case – why has there been a 22% decrease in Vitamin D levels across the general U.S. population in the last decade?
In a 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers at Harvard and the University of Colorado revealed that 70% of whites, 90% of Hispanics and 97% of blacks in the United States have inadequate levels of Vitamin D.
How do I know if I’m vitamin D deficient?
The only way to truly know is to have your blood tested. But before you get to feeling like the Lone Ranger, remember what I told you earlier. Testing for vitamin D levels is now the most requested blood assay in the world. In fancy medical language, that’s what they call a blood test where they are looking for various substances in the blood.
But you need to make sure the correct test is ordered. 20% + of physicians are choosing the wrong vitamin D test. Vitamin D exist in our bodies in several different forms. You can’t use the one that shows the activated amount of vitamin D in your blood. Nor can you use the one that shows vitamin D moving from the skin cells to the liver because that type has not been fully transformed.
The test you want ordered is the major circulating form called 25-vitamin D. You might see it listed on a lab report as “serum 25(OH)D”.
Types of vitamin D
Before we get into what are sufficient levels of vitamin D, lets talk briefly about the types of vitamin D.
There is the natural and free vitamin D that you get from the sun and there is the supplemental version you can buy online, at a vitamin shop or at the grocery store.
The type of vitamin D that is absorbed through your skin from the sun is vitamin D3. The type that is made from yeast to fortify foods and is used as a supplement is vitamin D2. However, vitamin D3 is also available as a supplement. It’s made from lanolin, a fatty substance obtained from sheep’s wool.
So, besides vitamin D3 from the sun, you can buy supplemental vitamin D2 or D3.
What’s the difference?
The best form is from the sun because it’s free and if you’re able to get enough of it during the warmer months your body will store it for the entire winter.
Most of us can’t get enough sun on a weekly basis even if we live in a sunny climate because most of us don’t work outside. Even if you do work outside, you have to be able to expose at least 25% of your body, typically your arms and legs, to take in enough sun to produce sufficient amounts. That’s why supplementation is so important.
As I mentioned, vitamin D3 is made from lanolin which comes from sheep’s wool. Vitamin D2 is made from yeast. Both work equally as well to help insure your levels of vitamin D are sufficient. If you’re vegan you’ll probably be opting for the D2. Other than that, it really doesn’t matter.
How do I know how much to take?
Dr. Michael Holick is an expert on vitamin D and has been studying it for over 30 years since his early years in med school. His recommendations are as follows:
- 0 – 1 year old: 400 to 1000 iu per day; safe upper limit 2000 iu per day
- 1 – 12 years old: 1000 to 2000 iu per day; safe upper limit 5000 iu per day
- 13 + years old: 1500 to 2000 iu per day; safe upper limit 10,000 iu per day
- Obese people: 2 to 3 times more than above
- Pregnant women: 1400 to 2000 iu per day; safe upper limit 10,000 iu per day
- Lactating women: 2000 to 4000 iu per day; safe upper limit 10,000 iu per day
- Lactating women who want to ensure that their baby is getting enough from their breast milk should take 4000 to 6000 iu per day; safe upper limit 10,000 iu per day
Can you take too much?
You probably noticed there’s a big difference between 2000 iu per day and 10,000 iu per day for adults. And you may be wondering if you can overdose or take so much that you become toxic. The answer to that question is yes.
But don’t worry. You’d have to be taking something like 50,000 units per day for 6 months to reach toxicity levels.
So, why’s there such a big range?
Because these are guidelines. Depending on your age, how much sun you get, where you live geographically, your body’s absorption ability, weight, and skin color… it’s going to vary. Also, if you’re vitamin D deficient, it’s going to take a greater amount of supplement to get your levels back up to what’s sufficient.
So, let’s talk about how to know if you’re deficient.
Some signs of Vitamin D deficiency include:
- Getting sick often with colds and flu
- Fatigue – tiredness
- Bone and lower back pain
- Impaired healing of wounds
- Bone loss and low levels of calcium
- Hair loss
- Muscle pain
The answer – more sun exposure and supplementation with Vitamin
Again, the only true way to know if you’re vitamin D levels are deficient is to have your blood tested for 25-vitamin D. That’s the test that measures the major circulating form of vitamin D in your blood.
One of the most widely used measures in testing is nanograms to milliliters.
Under 20 ng/ml is deficient.
21 to 29 ng/ml is insufficient.
30 to 100 ng/ml is sufficient.
150 ng/ml is intoxication.
The ideal is between 40 to 60 ng/ml and some experts suggest 60 to 80 ng/ml is ideal.
Becoming vitamin D sufficient
According to Dr. Holick, if you sunbathe in your backyard, the pool, wherever – long enough so that 24 hours later your skin will be slightly pink and you expose 60 percent of your body, including your arms, legs and abdomen, you’ll get a dose of vitamin D of 10,000 to 25,000 iu.
It’s never advisable that you get sunburned and you always want to cover your face.
Dr. Holick has calculated that to make 2000 to 4000 iu you need to expose 25 % of your body for between one fourth and one half the time it would take for your skin to be pink from the sun 24 hours later.
For some people, because of the various factors that affect your rate of absorption, such as age, skin color, and race, this could be anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
This is the safest way and doing it three times per week would provide you with the equivalent of supplementing 20,000 to 30,000 iu.
Because we’re not talking about exposure to the sun for a long period of time you want to avoid sunscreen. Sunscreen will block the body’s ability to make vitamin D. However, if you’re going to be in the sun after that, you’ll want to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 to 30.
While we’re on the subject of sunscreens, there is significant research that indicates that many commercial sunscreens are harmful to your skin and are a greater risk for skin cancer than the sun itself.
When sunscreen is applied, ingredients seep through the skin and end up in our blood, urine and even the breast milk of mothers. A number of these mimic hormones or cause disruption to hormones.
There’s also a form of vitamin A that’s added to 14% of beach and sport sunscreens, 15% of moisturizers with SPF and 6% of lip products with SPF, (as of 2017). It’s called retinyl palmitate and can also be recognized as retinol, retinyl acetate and retinyl linoleate.
The reason manufacturers use is it is because it’s an antioxidant that resist skin aging. Studies by scientist in the federal government indicate the possibility of developing skin tumors and lesions when used in sunlight – which is of course where and why people use sunscreen. It’s also been linked to liver damage, osteoporosis, and skeletal damage in unborn babies.
The use of sun screens is serious business and not to be taken lightly. You don’t want to buy a sunscreen because the price is lower, only to put yourself at a greater risk of cancer and other diseases.
Here’s a link to a FREE REPORT on choosing the best sunscreens and a guide to what’s in over 300 top sunscreen and SPF products. You’ll find ratings for every product including children’s sunscreens for UVA/UVB protection as well health concerns. Choose A Safer Sunscreen
Before we move on, let me mention of couple of things about…
the dreaded melanoma.
Although, RARE, melanoma are more deadly that non-melanoma cancers. You may be surprised to learn that they comprise less than 5% of all skin cancers, BUT – they’re still responsible for the majority of skin cancer deaths.
What I’m trying to say is, don’t be afraid of exposing yourself to the sun for short periods of time between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. The benefits far outweigh the risks. Even if you did develop non-melanoma skin cancer, it’s not a death sentence.
The likelihood of developing non-melanoma skin cancer is greater if you were exposed to extreme amounts of sun when you were a child, adolescent or young adult.
One last thing with regard to sun exposure – Melanoma typically appear on areas that are NOT exposed to the sun. Let me repeat… melanoma typically appear on areas that are NOT exposed to the sun.
If that doesn’t make you more comfortable, here’s one more thing.
Are you ready?
They also occur in people who spend little time in the sun. Based on these two factors, it would seem like spending a little time in the sun would not be a factor for this disease.
Vitamin D And Your Immune System
When it comes to autoimmune diseases, where you live can make a big difference.
Epidemiologists have known for some time that there is less risk for certain autoimmune diseases if you live in areas closer to the equator. Living closer to the equator means you’re living in a region that has more sunlight. And living with more sunlight means… you guessed it – greater exposure to vitamin D.
There’s an undisputed connection between multiple sclerosis and exposure to the sun. If you live in North America, (especially north of the 36th parallel) or Europe, you have a five times more likely chance of being affected by MS than if you lived in the tropics.
If you live in the U. S. the rates of MS below the 37th parallel are 57 to 78 cases per 100,000. If you live above the 37th parallel, the prevalent rates are almost double, 110 to 140 per 100,000 cases.
Most cases of MS develop between the ages of 20 and 40 and it’s twice as common in women than men. A startling genetic component is if someone in your family had it, you too are likely to get it. If you’re a first degree relative of someone with MS, meaning a child or sibling, your chances of developing MS are 20 to 40 times greater.
The exact causes of MS remain a mystery. However, researchers believe lack of vitamin D early in life is a contributor. The theory is that insufficient levels of vitamin D prevent the thymus from killing cells that attack the nerves that control motor function.
Type 1 Diabetes
Northern Finland experiences only two hours of sunlight per day in December. Finland also has the largest incidence of Type 1 diabetes in the world.
In a study of 12,000 babies starting in 1966, those that were given 2,000 iu of vitamin D per day during their first year of life had an 80% reduced chance of developing diabetes than those who were given no vitamin D.
Doctors followed this group for 31 years and found that those who were vitamin D deficient and developed rickets, had an almost 250% chance of developing Type 1 diabetes. Further studies in 2008 confirmed this geographical trend.
Periodontal Disease And Heart Attacks
Recent studies have confirmed a connection between periodontal disease and heart attacks.
Let me connect the dots for you.
When you have a bacterial infection in your mouth (periodontitis), these bacteria can enter the bloodstream. Once in the flow, they look for something to latch onto like fatty plaque in the hearts blood vessels. This in turn causes a traffic jam, otherwise known as a clot.
Once the clot gets big enough it puts an embargo on your heart. It starts cutting off blood flow, nutrients, and oxygen. This causes the heart muscle to weaken and eventually call for help – a heart attack. A similar thing can happen in the arteries by plaque accumulating inside the walls of the arteries, causing the arteries to swell and eventually cutting off the blood flow.
If you have periodontal disease you’re twice as likely to have a heart attack than if you didn’t.
Here’s how vitamin D helps.
If you have sufficient levels of vitamin D, your body’s natural defenses or immune cells can activate it and fight off bacteria and inflammation to break this chain.
Does where you live make a difference to your health?
While it’s not the sole factor in determining your health, there is plenty of evidence pointing to greater incidence of breast, colon, and prostate cancer, as well as osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes if you live north of the 36th parallel.
That’s why it’s so important to get as much sun as possible during the warmer months and to make sure the amount of vitamin D you’re supplementing is sufficient to put your levels above 40 nanograms per milliliter.
How do you know how much that is?
Have your doctor request the 25-vitamin D blood test. You can then determine how much you’ll need to take daily. If you’re an adult or older than 13, and your levels are greater than 30 ng/ml, 2000 iu to 5000 iu is probably just fine. But you and your doctor can figure that out. If it’s me, I’m taking 5000 iu per day with the goal of vitamin D levels of at least 60 ng/ml.
vitamin D And Calcium Go Hand In Hand
The most abundant mineral in the human body is calcium. We know it’s important for our bones and teeth and that’s where 99% our calcium is located. But besides strong bones and teeth, calcium is important to our muscles, brain and heart.
There’s a very special relationship between vitamin D and calcium. In fact, when necessary, vitamin D can extract calcium from bones to be used in support of other bodily needs.
A large percentage of the population, myself included, are not aware of the role calcium plays in our normal bodily functions. “Calcium is responsible for skeletal contractions, cardiac (heart muscle) contractions, blood vessel expansion and contraction, secretion of hormones and enzymes and transmission of impulses throughout the nervous system.”2
As we move into our 60’s and beyond, bone loss exceeds formation. The end result over time is osteoporosis which can affect even younger postmenopausal women.
It’s important that both men and women get as much calcium as possible throughout their lives. When you’re born, you’re given what you might call a “bones safety deposit box”. You can make deposits to it throughout your life up until the ripe old age of 35.
That’s right, 35.
At that point, your bones will no longer take deposits but you want to keep them strong by holding on to their calcium.
That means getting all the calcium you need from your diet and supplements. If your body needs to remodel some bones, you want the calcium to come from diet and supplements rather than your bones.
It’s estimated that 60% of calcium is absorbed in childhood and adolescence when bones are developing. Fortunately, calcium is readily available through foods like milk, yogurt and cheese. You can also find it in leafy greens such as kale and collard greens, almonds, pistachios, beans, seeds, and calcium fortified fruit juices.
How much should you take as a supplement?
It’s recommended that adults up to 50 years of age take 1000 mg per day. After 51 it’s recommended you bump that to 1200 mg per day.
There are two main supplemental forms of calcium. Carbonate and citrate.
There are several others but calcium carbonate seems to be the most commonly available and modestly priced.
If you have stomach issues it’s a good idea to take calcium with your meals. Your absorption rate depends on how concentrated the calcium is in the supplement and 500 mg or less seems to be better absorbed than larger doses. For this reason, if you’re taking 1000 mg per day, it’s best to take 500 mg in the morning and 500 mg in the evening.
How does vitamin D play into this?
It’s key because it’s essential to the uptake of calcium and helps with it’s absorption into the bloodstream and bones.
It’s estimated that 44 to 87% of Americans are calcium deficient. This includes children who are critically in need for the growth and development of healthy bones and teeth.
The problem is – there aren’t any obvious signs that would point specifically to low levels of calcium. Meanwhile, people can go for years with low levels of calcium while their bones become weakened without their knowledge.
Who’s At Risk For Calcium Deficiency And Why ?
Postmenopausal women: Low estrogen stores dampen proper calcium metabolism and regulation.
Vegetarians & Vegans: Avoiding dairy and consuming mostly vegetables, some of which have compounds known to inhibit calcium absorption, including phytates and oxalate, act as a double whammy.
People whose diets include lots of protein and salt: High intake of protein and sodium increases calcium excretion.
Lactose intolerant people: Those who have trouble digesting dairy products, and thus avoid them, are frequently found to be calcium deficient and have lower bone density.
Recent studies have shown calcium to be beneficial in addressing, treating and preventing a number of conditions including: Premenstrual Syndrome, weight loss, high blood pressure, colon cancer, stroke and high cholesterol.
I found the link to weight loss one of the most interesting.
It’s been reported that calcium plays a key role in metabolic disorders linked to obesity. Evidently, high calcium diets promote the release of a hormone that leads to the body’s fat cells losing weight.
This seems to make sense based on the fact that we should be getting anywhere from 1000 to 1300 milligrams of calcium per day. While calcium is readily available from milk, food and orange juice, the problem is that most people are eating the Stand American Diet, (SAD) which is not going to cut it.
I seriously doubt that most people are drinking 3 glasses of milk per day, eating leafy green vegetables including kale and collard greens, as well as beans, nuts, and fortified juices.
Research done in Argentina showed that women who took calcium during their pregnancy could prevent high blood pressure in their children.
In research conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center – Dallas, results indicated that calcium was effective in lowering LDL, (bad) cholesterol. Can we say goodbye to statins?
While we’re talking about strong bones let’s not forget the benefits of exercise.
The best kind of exercise to strengthen your bones involves resistance against your own body weight or putting stress on your muscles and bones.
This includes walking, calisthenics like squats, push-ups and lunges, mat or floor pilates, plyometric jumping, yoga and weight training. The idea is to strengthen your muscles which in turn puts positive stress on your bones.
When your bones become stronger they tend to hold onto their calcium and form new bone mass.
Two additional benefits from exercise are a stronger heart and stronger lungs.
We all know the benefits of a stronger heart but many people aren’t aware that you lose lung capacity as you age. When you lose lung capacity you become more susceptible to sickness and disease. Exercise can help slow down the aging process and make your lungs a vital part of your immune system.
Overcoming The Resistance
At the beginning of this article I mentioned brainwashing by a certain segment of the medical community regarding the benefits of exposure to the sun.
Since the 1970’s a large percentage of the dermatology community believed any amount of exposure to the sun would make you a candidate for skin cancer and death as a result of it. They also theorized that somehow sun exposure would also lead to vitamin D deficiency.
Interestingly enough… the sun screen industry has boomed since that same time period.
But recently things have started to change.
Dermatologists are changing their thinking and starting to accept the research that’s become more and more credible over the last 50 years.
Could that have anything to do with the fact that vitamin D deficiency has risen 22% in America over the last decade?
Or because blood tests to determine the levels of vitamin D have been the most requested of all blood tests?
Maybe it’s because the research of Dr. Holick, Dr. Heany, Dr. Grand, Dr. Gorham, and the Garland brothers can no longer be ignored?
“For some, even physicians, it’s incomprehensible that vitamin D can reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 50 percent; reduce the risk of common cancers of the colon, prostate, and breast by as much as 50 percent; reduce the risk of infectious diseases, including influenza, by as much as 90 percent; reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes by 78 percent in a child who gets 2000 IU of vitamin D a day in the first year of life; decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes; decrease the risk of dementia and depression; wipe out cases of fibromyalgia that have been misdiagnosed; and dramatically decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.” Dr. Michael Holick – The Vitamin D Solution
Every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor. Why?
When you see the effects of raising vitamin D levels to 40 to 60 ng/ml (nanograms to milliliters) you see the importance of the vitamin D receptor and having sufficient levels of vitamin D.
While vitamin D is not the solution to all of our health problems, the evidence of what it does for our overall health is not only overwhelming, it’s undeniable.
- Dr. Michael F. Holick, M. D., Ph. D. The Vitamin D Solution
- Dr. Michael F. Holick, M. D., Ph. D. The Vitamin D Solution