There are many useful suggestions for remaining
healthy such as hygienic measures of masking and handwashing. Look at previous articles for information
about those measures. It is also
important to make sure you have some nutritional protocols in place to optimize
An important step in staying healthy is to make sure
that you have adequate vitamin D levels.
We often hear about vitamin D as it relates to calcium absorption and healthy
bones and teeth. It is true that
vitamin D is an important component to maintain healthy bones and teeth – this
is why it is so often added to dairy products.
Healthy bones and teeth are not the only functions of vitamin D – it has
a very important role in immunity and overall well-being.
D is actually more like a hormone and we are able to produce it in our bodies
when we are exposed to sunlight, specifically UVB waves. However, with more people working inside and
the understandable concerns about excess sun exposure and risk of skin cancer lower
levels of vitamin D are being produced and so people are at risk for
deficiency. This is particularly true of those who have
darker skin tones because they do not produce as much through sun exposure. Of course the skin is not the only organ
involved in vitamin D production. Once
the initial building block for active vitamin D is produced by the skin, the
liver and kidneys play a role in its final activation. That means that any issues with kidney or
liver function can also impact vitamin D levels.
optimal level for vitamin D as measured in blood should be between
100-150 nmol/L or 40-60 ng/ml as this is the level needed for proper cellular
function. Of course vitamin D helps with
calcium metabolism but there are also immune functions. There is a substance produced in the
body called cathelicidin. It has
protective action against a variety of disease-causing organisms and there is a
link between production of cathelicidin and adequate levels of vitamin D. We see this substance in many cells in the
body such as those in the skin and mucus membranes as well as other areas.
The lab test for vitamin D levels is readily available. In spite of this, it is rarely ordered and
in most cases only if there is a concern with bone density issues. This is surprising given that there are so
many other important uses for vitamin D in the body and a correlation between
low serum levels and many severe and chronic illnesses. If you live in a state that has publicly
accessible labs you can go in and get your own test to check out your levels
and that is probably a good idea. If
you’ve had other labs run it might be useful to see if vitamin D levels were
checked at that time.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. This means that excess levels are not flushed
out by the kidneys but remain in the body where they could potentially cause a
toxic response. With vitamin D the
concern is particularly in regard to hypercalcemia or excess calcium in the
blood. Excess calcium can cause
deposition in the arterial walls leading to thickening and stiffening of the
arteries. While this is a rare event and
generally requires extremely high dosages of vitamin D it is useful to be aware
of the potential for this issue. It is important
to take vitamin K2 with vitamin D because vitamin K2 directs the calcium to the
skeletal tissue preventing deposition in the artery walls. Vitamin K2 comes in multiple forms with MK-4
and MK-7 being the most prevalent. The
MK-7 form is preferable and has actually been studied for its effectiveness in
managing calcium deposition whereas the MK-4 is actually a synthetic form and
was not in the study. The recommended
levels (according to Dr. Cees Vermeer – one of the most respected Vitamin K
researchers) should be 45 – 185 mcg daily.
Keep in mind that those individuals on blood thinning medications should
not supplement vitamin K without consulting with their doctors because vitamin
K supplements can interfere with the action of their blood thinner prescription. Vitamin D3 is the preferred form for vitamin
D supplementation. Grassroots Health has
a vitamin D calculator to determine the proper dosage of supplement based on
your current serum vitamin D level and there is even a link to order a home
vitamin D test kit.
Vitamin D council has many useful articles and links to resources. The articles are very interesting and most
are written for the lay person. Take
the opportunity to educate yourself about this important tool for maintaining