VITAMIN D – TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE?
VITAMIN D – TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE?
Vitamin D assists in many important functions in the body. Some of them include:
• Promoting bone growth
• Maintaining muscle tone
• Aiding cells to take in nutrients and remove waste
• Sustaining blood calcium levels for a healthy nervous system
• Maintaining calcium levels to prevent the tendency in children to spike a high fever
Because of vitamin D’s role in so many bodily functions it is important to make sure we have adequate levels in our blood. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for children and adults is between 200-400 IU daily. The actual requirement for vitamin D is smaller than you think: as little as 10 ugs (micrograms) gives you all you really need.¹
We get vitamin D from two sources: foods and exposure to the sun. The best food sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, organic butter, organic raw-milk cheese and liver from a healthy animal and non-gmo or organic eggs. The amount of vitamin D in cows and chickens depends on their exposure to sunlight. Therefore, if you are relying on dairy foods and eggs for your vitamin D you will not get much, if any, in the winter. In the summer months, when the animals are exposed to more sun, these foods will be a more reliable source of vitamin D. In the winter cod liver oil is your best choice.²
Exposure to sunlight is actually the best source of vitamin D. With just arms and face exposed you would probably need 15-30 minutes daily in the warm months. If you are sunbathing with more skin exposed, 10 minutes may be adequate. As we age our ability to manufacture vitamin D from the sun decreases. Therefore we need to sunbathe for longer periods of time or take in more from food sources.
I want to assure you that sunlight is not harmful to you. Problems occur with excess exposure to sun only when you are deficient in various nutrients including: tyrosine (an amino acid), tyrosinase (organic copper—the trace mineral activator in vitamin C) and magnesium. All these nutrients can be found in the type of whole food diets and whole food supplements I recommend.
Because vitamin D is fat soluble it can be stored in your body for future needs. Vitamin A and vitamin D occur together in nature (in foods) and work together to produce the needed effects in your body. If you have difficulty absorbing fats (i.e. due to gallbladder problems or removal) you might easily develop a deficiency in vitamin D as well as vitamin A since they are both fat soluble. ³ The production of vitamin D is blocked by the following factors:
• Skin pigment: The darker the skin the less vitamin D will be produced
• Smog, fog, smoke
• Sun screens
It’s important to understand the difference between natural and synthetic vitamin D because your body metabolizes them very differently. Excessive amounts of vitamin D from food will never accumulate in your body. It simply uses what it needs and excretes the rest. However, because synthetic vitamins are seen as foreign substances—not food—your body is not able to process them in the same way. It is not equipped to eliminate excessive amounts. Therefore, toxic levels develop resulting in serious side effects. Some symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include:
• Loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea
• Weakness, headache
• Calcium deposits in soft tissues
• Excessive urination
• Kidney damage
• Breakdown (oxidation) of fat in your body
• High blood pressure
• Absorption of lead, cadmium, strontium and nickel
Long term over consumption of high potency, synthetic vitamin D also contributes to atherosclerosis and blood clots. One of the ways this happens is by taking high doses of vitamin Dȝ or drinking pasteurized, homogenized milk that has been fortified with synthetic vitamin D. This synthetic form of vitamin D activates a substance in milk fat called xanthine oxidase (XO). When milk has not been homogenized the milk fat and the XO are broken down in the stomach and small intestine into smaller molecules which can be used or excreted from the body. When XO is not properly digested it causes damage to heart muscle, artery walls and myelin sheaths. This is what can lead to atherosclerosis, blood clots and multiple sclerosis.
Studies have shown that synthetic vitamin D levels in milk and other processed foods are very frequently much higher than the amount listed on the labels. For this reason toxicity can occur easily even without synthetic vitamin D supplements.
In conclusion, it is important to understand that your body recognizes the difference between natural and synthetic vitamin D! I invite you to call my office (773/262-7611) for recommendations regarding the best sources for you and your family.
• The Real Truth about Vitamins and Antioxidants, Judith A DeCava, MS, LNC, pp. 102-111
• The Vitamins in Medicine, Bicknell and Prescott, Third Edition, p. 524
• Ibid p. 525