Sunshine For Optimal Health
In other blogs, I’ve mentioned nutrients, supplements and vitamins that are critical to our well-being and I will touch on many of them in future posts, but right now let’s talk about a wonderful and necessary vitamin (that is actually a neuroregulatory hormone) that we are all deficient in –– vitamin D3.
I am sure you have heard the news about how we are desperately lacking this vitamin and in order to get enough, we need sunshine and fortified foods. But do you know how critical it is to your overall health? And did you know that even if you are taking vitamin D, if you aren’t taking it with vitamin K2, it’s not optimal and may even be harmful?
Vitamin D3 influences 3,000 of our 25,000 genes, according to research from Dr. Mercola and a 2008 genome study by Carl Zimmer. Vitamin D literally turns on and off genes that can make you well or harm you. Vitamin D3 can influence many issues, including but not limited to the following:
- Cancer (notably skin, breast, prostate)
- Heart Disease
- Vein Issues
- Diabetes 1&2
- Cold & Flu
- Autoimmune Deficiency & Diseases
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Eye, Teeth and Ear Health
- Mental Illness
Best Friends with K-2
Vitamin D, along with being an immune system power-house and mood booster, assists our bodies with absorbing calcium. If it’s not taken in conjunction with vitamin K2 at least once a day, it is less effective and can actually cause calcium buildup and arterial plaque! Mounting evidence proves that they depend on each other to work. I found this out years ago and have struggled with the mystery of why most vitamin D supplements don’t have vitamin K2 in them.
If you get a lot of calcium in your diet or you take a calcium supplement, without the balancing effects of vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2, all the calcium will not be absorbed. This may lead to a build-up in your organs and joints and cause major heart issues. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, and K2 helps bind and deliver it into the bone, keeping it from being deposited in other areas. Vitamin D also decreases inflammation, wards off infection, and lowers cancer risk.
How much vitamin D is necessary for optimal health? That depends on who you ask. The Institute of Medicine has recommended no more than 600 International Units (IUs) a day for infants to seventy-year-olds. Ask any alternative health practitioner or scientist who studies chronic illnesses and they will tell you vitamin D deficiency is an epidemic, and our intake should be much higher. All of my alternative health doctors, as well as more well-known doctors, have sanctioned 1000 IUs as being safe without doctor monitoring, though most people need many thousands more.
Where to Start
When checking your blood or saliva for vitamin D (25-hydroxy vitamin D), you want your number between 60-80 nanograms/ml, no higher than 100. The first time I had mine checked it was 18. I started taking supplements right away and my levels have stayed up around 50-60. Per each of my doctors’ recommendations, I take 10,000 sublingual IUs a day (with vitamin K2) and if I don’t, my number falls. There just isn’t a way to get enough without supplementing, and I lived in sunny Florida for fifteen years! I take morning walks without sunscreen (shhh – don’t tell my dermatologist) when the sun isn’t as intense, hoping to get a smidgen of D the way nature intended. Our skin absorbs and converts vitamin D quickly, providing a little mood and energy boost.
How to Get Vitamin D & K
Since most of us wear sunscreen and live where it is often cloudy, it is hard to get enough from the sun and there is not much vitamin D in food. In doing research, I have found the food source containing the highest IUs is fatty fish, like salmon, which has 400-450 IUs in a 3oz. piece. Not enough for the entire day, though it is good to get it naturally when possible. Vitamin K2 is found in cruciferous and leafy veggies, green tea, turnips, tomatoes, fermented foods and olive oil. You can take D by itself throughout the day or all at once, just make sure you get some K2 mixed in (75-100 mcg daily with food, per Dr. Uzzi Reiss).
One of the only sublingual vitamin D supplements with vitamin K2 that I have found is Michael’s D3 (amazon.com). There are a couple of other brands but they contain lactose, which is no good for me. To get started feeling better with vitamin D, it’s best to ask your doctor for the 25-hydroxy vitamin D test and check your vitamin K levels, then decide how to proceed from there. Also, check with your doc if you are on blood thinners when it comes to vitamin K2, as it can be associated with slight blood thinning, though it varies greatly from K1 in blood clotting capabilities.*
“Our complicated bodies fight the daily battle of striking a balance between producing what we need to stay alive and counter-acting our lack of knowing how to treat ourselves.” Kristin Deann