Thursday, July 8, 2021

An Important Super Nutrient – Made In Our Bodies!


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 your health.  

 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.

 Vitamin 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.

 The 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.

 The 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 optimal health!


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