Vitamin D: What You Should Know Before Supplementing!

The Many Roles Vitamin D Plays in Your Optimal Health

A sufficient vitamin D level is fundamental for good health! Found in every cell of your body, vitamin D acts as both a hormone and a vitamin, and it plays a role in numerous body functions. To be at your best, you need adequate levels of Vitamin D!

Here are some important ways this nutrient supports us: 

A calcium helper: Calcium is a mineral that needs guidance. It tends to get lost in soft tissue and needs help finding its way into bones and teeth where it belongs. Vitamin D helps calcium find its way into bones and teeth, keeping them healthy and strong. Vitamin D also blocks parathyroid hormone, which reabsorbs bone tissue and causes bones to become thin and brittle.

Supports the immune system: Vitamin D keeps the immune system strong. There is also growing evidence that optimal levels help protect against cancer.

Strengthens muscles: It plays a role in muscle contraction and strength. Vitamin D deficiency can cause leg muscles to weaken. With insufficient levels, you might need help getting out of a lazy chair! (1)

Regulates blood pressure: In high latitudes during the winter where sun exposure is difficult to get, cases of high blood pressure often rise. Low levels of vitamin D have been connected to high blood pressure. (2)

Stabilizes mood: Low levels of vitamin D have long been associated with a higher incidence of depression.

Maintains healthy weight: Low levels of vitamin D can interfere with adequate production and effectiveness of leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells us when we are full. When levels of leptin are suboptimal, it takes more food to feel satiated and you will likely have strong cravings for sugar and carbs.

Helps to control inflammation: Low levels of Vitamin D, as most people have, allow for high levels of inflammation, and studies have shown that bringing vitamin D levels up to sufficient levels helps with inflammatory conditions. (3)

Are You Deficient? 

The current conventional guideline for vitamin D is a minimum level of 20 ng/mL, but to guarantee sufficiency the recommended range is between 30 and 50 ng/mL for both children and adults.

Functional optimal ranges, however, are between 60-80 ng/mL. Most people fall short of this optimal level. Many others even fall short of basic conventional ranges. 

Making Sure You Have Enough

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The most ideal ways to get vitamin D are by eating a diet rich in Vitamin D containing foods and exposure to natural sunlight. Vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to UV light from the sun.

These methods are often not enough for many people because they live in zones where sunshine isn't always available, or they live lifestyles that do not support adequate time in the sun.

Because of this, vitamin D deficiency is quite common, and therefore, supplementation becomes necessary for many (at least for part of the year) to maintain optimal levels.

There is something everyone should know before supplementing, however …

Supplementation? Not So Fast!

It is important to check both inactive (25 OH) and active (1,25 OH). Most doctors only check your inactive 25 OH level. The ratio between the two (1,25 OH to 25 OH) should ideally be 1:1 to 1.5:1, some say up to 2:1. 

Ratios higher than this are often correlated with a chronic inflammatory process of some kind. Inflammatory processes can cause excess amounts of vitamin D to be shunted into the 1,25 OH (active form) pathway and inhibit the VDR (vitamin D receptors) within cells.

Read Inflammation and vitamin D: the infection connection here, (3) for more information about the inflammatory connection and how to supplement Vitamin D.

Chronic inflammatory processes are most often driven by hidden sources of infections and toxins in the body such as, but not limited to:

  • Gut pathogens (bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic)

  • Intracellular infections such as chronic Lyme and company

  • Mycotoxins from food and environmental sources

  • Heavy metals

  • Pesticides

  • Harmful estrogens

  • Excessive blue light and EMF’s (electromagnetic frequencies) coming from technology gadgets (especially at night!)

For information about how to reduce EMF exposure, read Practical Tips to Protect Yourself Against Toxic EMF Radiation.

Supplementing with vitamin D in the presence of low 25 OH but elevated 1,25 OH can fuel the inflammatory process. In this case, supplementing can be very damaging to the body, especially the kidneys. 

All this said, if your 25 OH comes in low (and you don't know your 1,25 level) then it's highly likely that you do need to support vitamin D levels somehow; either by taking a supplement or getting more sunlight exposure.

Though, to make sure supplementation is the best choice for you, I do suggest checking both levels, especially when your 25 OH levels begin to rise after supplementing -- to be sure there is no shunting going on.

This is especially important if you are dealing with chronic health issues of any kind.

On the positive note, checking both vitamin D levels can provide a grand clue into healing opportunities that you may not have been aware of otherwise. 

Perspective changes everything!

If My Ratios Are Off, What Should I Do?

If you discover that your ratios are off, I suggest holding off on supplementation while you pursue a functional lab workup that can assess for hidden stressors that can drive a chronic inflammatory response.   

Some of the assessments I use in my practice to enable my clients to investigate this scenario are as follows:

  • GI-MAP by DSL Laboratory

  • Complete Gut Zoomer by Vibrant Wellness Labs

  • Viome Gut and Metabolic Intelligence Test (Read more about this test here).

  • DUTCH (dried urine total comprehensive hormone) Panel

  • The Mycotoxin from Vibrant Wellness Labs

  • DNA Connexions Lyme and Co-infections panel

When hidden stressors are identified and adequately addressed, inflammation will recede, and vitamin D metabolism can be restored to optimal functioning.

You can discuss your case with me! Go to my Work with Me page to find out how.

Resources:

1. Rejnmark, Lars. “Effects of Vitamin d on Muscle Function and Performance: a Review of Evidence from Randomized Controlled Trials.” Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Disease, SAGE Publications, Jan. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3513873/.

2. Mehta, Varshil, and Shivika Agarwal. “Does Vitamin D Deficiency Lead to Hypertension?” Cureus, Cureus, 17 Feb. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5356990/.

3. Mangin, Meg, et al. “Inflammation and Vitamin D: the Infection Connection.” Inflammation Research : Official Journal of the European Histamine Research Society ... [Et Al.], Springer Basel, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4160567/?fbclid=IwAR2SoNT5854c7xcqQiPuVDU2bB5hSzAJaH_E4Q38yQe2aCM7l-_fYpmf4pg.