Don't supplement without knowing what you need.
Lunch Hour Lesson #31
A couple weeks ago I talked about getting outside and breathing, and earthing. It was a fun subject to talk about, mostly because it is so simple. Just go outside and breathe – it’s all good!
The subject of Vitamin D is almost the opposite, in that it is NOT simple at all. There are so many conflicting messages about what is needed, how much is enough, how much is too much, can we supplement Vitamin D in isolation, should we supplement at all? And the explanation can get a bit technical, so stay with me here.
I’ll share three conclusions that I’ve come to as I’ve listened to the various recommendations on this subject and read the research over the years.
First and most important:
If you supplement with Vitamin D, it should not be taken in isolation from the other fat-soluble vitamins. Increasing Vitamin D levels without increasing Vitamin A and K intake especially, can throw off an important balance within the body.
Professional supplement lines are now recognizing this issue and offering Vitamin D and K blends for this reason. It’s important also to eat foods like liver and egg yolks on a regular basis to keep Vitamin A levels adequate.
Cod Liver Oil in particular has a good balance of Vitamins A and D, and then I recommend taking Emu Oil for the Vitamin K. These two oils work synergistically to manage inflammation in the body, support calcium utilization, and enhance the immune system. Probably two of the top supplements (foods, really) I would recommend.
Second important point about Vitamin D:
Get your levels checked with a blood test. Many times you will have to request this from your doctor as an isolated test, and not all insurance policies cover it. Not sure why. But it is important to know your level, because just as you want to ensure it isn’t too low, it isn’t good for it to be too high either. More is not always better.
That said, there is conflicting information about what the actual ideal range for Vitamin D levels is in the first place. The U.S. Laboratory reference range for adequate Vitamin D is 30-74 ng/ML, and some practitioners recommend levels as high as 80.
But, according to Chris Kresser, a well respected clinician in the field of Functional Medicine, “a large body of evidence in the medical literature strongly suggests that optimal vitamin D levels might be lower than these figures”. And that “increasing evidence [suggests] that levels of this magnitude may cause harm”.
Food education for life, not for a fad.
Based on this and data from other researchers, I believe the optimal Vitamin D status range to be between 35-50 ng/ML. If you’re falling within that range, keep up your current diet and lifestyle; it’s going well.
If your levels are lower, you likely need some combination of UV exposure, cod liver oil, and a balanced Vitamin D/K supplement. If you have an autoimmune disease, the range may be a bit higher (up 60 ng/ML) because Vitamin D has so many immune-regulating components.
Third important point:
Use sunlight and UV exposure as your primary source of Vitamin D production. The skin makes Vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but being in the sun also has other healthful properties.
Responsible UVA and UVB exposure regulates our circadian rhythms, produces important peptides and hormones, and increases the release of nitric oxide from storage. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and thus reduces blood pressure.
I say responsible, because it is important that while in the sunlight, you do not allow your skin to burn if it is susceptible to doing so. Instead, increase your sun tolerance naturally.
For maximum benefit, start slow. Expose as much skin as possible to the sun in the middle of the day, but only for about 10-15 minutes, depending on your skin tone. Those with darker complexions can and should stay out longer. As you eventually build up a tan, you can increase your exposure time. Think of this like supplementation in itself.
Obviously if you are going to be in the sun all day, it is important to use sun protective clothing and hats. I do not recommend the use of sunscreen as I have not yet found one, even a natural kind, that I believe to be safe to put on my skin regularly. Let me know if you want more information about that.
Look up your most recent Vitamin D lab results, or find a way to get a blood test for this important vitamin.
Lunch Hour Lessons with Allison
Watch this week’s Facebook LIVE – Lunch Hour Lesson #31: Vitamin D Confusion Each week I bring you a topic related to nutrition and health that I think is interesting, and give you a lesson to take with you into your daily life. Watch Live on Facebook, Wednesdays, 12:30pm PST!
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