Recently, there has been a lot of talk about vitamin D due to its ability to fight a Covid-19 viral infection. It doesn’t come as a surprise because this vitamin directly affects the T-cells, aka killer cells, that help you fight pathogens. There are so many other vital factors as to why you should pay attention to having sufficient vitamin D levels in your body.
A lack of vitamin D is not as apparent as, for example, vitamin B. Some symptoms include fatigue, pain, muscle weakness, insomnia, and mood changes. People with thyroid conditions and immune disorders should also monitor their vitamin D levels.
Why Vitamin D is so Important
Fun fact about D that it is a vitamin and a hormone at the same time. It is essential for keeping your bones healthy, as it promotes the absorption of calcium in the stomach and maintains the calcium level in your blood. Weak bones can lead to osteoporosis, making them prone to fractures.
Vitamin D also plays a role in keeping you healthy by protecting you from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, immune system disorders, and cancer types. It also affects neurotransmitter production – such as serotonin, dopamine, GABA, etc. Not only that, but vitamin D activates T cells – cells that destroy pathogens such as viruses.
So how do we get Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is produced when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In other words, sunshine.
Nutritional sources of vitamin D are limited, so it is wise to take vitamin D supplementation.
You can get vitamin D in a variety of ways. These can include:
- Being exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. About 15-20 minutes, three days per week is usually sufficient. However, I check levels for people who live in FL, the sunshine state, and I see very significant deficiencies. The amount of vitamin D that your skin makes depends on factors such as the time of the day, where you live, melanin content of your skin – meaning darker-skinned people need more sun exposure, the season, and very notably, your genetics.
- Eating some oily fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, and fortified dairy and grain products. So if people are vegan or grain-free, it limits their nutritional intake.
- Taking nutritional supplements. But not all supplements are created equally.
Why Your Vitamin D Levels May Be Low, Even if You Live in South Florida
One of the most common reasons is your genetics. The primary gene in question is VDR, which is essential for metabolizing vitamin D into the active form and produces a critical molecule in the body that is protective of cancers, Lyme, viral overloads. If this gene is impaired, vitamin D levels will more likely remain deficient. More than ¼ of the world has inherited these gene variants. It is also good to know Vitamin D, unlike other vitamins, is being processed in your liver and kidneys, so if your detoxification is also genetically impaired, it affects your D levels. The other gene affecting it is MTHFR, but it is a different and big topic we cannot get into today.
- Nutritional deficiencies in zinc, lysine, B6, P5P.
- Overly toxified liver – due to genetics and poor lifestyle choices such as junk food and high alcohol consumption.
- Vitamin D also can be lowered by certain medications such as laxatives, steroids, cholesterol medication, weight loss drugs, and seizure-control drugs. In general, it is very beneficial to know what nutrients are being overly utilized by your body when you take prescription medication.
I believe that Vitamin D supplementation is the most practical solution for many people and I prefer a liquid formulation of D3 and K2 as it will speed up the absorption. Also, vitamin D is fat-soluble, and taking it in a liquid form also helps your body absorb it better.
It is beneficial to know your genetics related to Vitamin D and liver detoxification pathways to plan your nutrition and supplementation accordingly.
To conclude, checking your D levels is the first step. If you have a deficiency, it’s important to investigate why, and then start supplementation and carefully monitor your levels.
So what are the tests?
- Blood serum level of 25(OH)D.
- The better choice is to check white blood cell levels of D and other supportive nutrients.
- Saliva nutrigenetic test to give you an idea of your inherited baselines.
When you know this information, you can make an informed decision about your nutrition and supplementation requirements.
I provide telehealth consultations on personalizing supplements and will review your individual case to clear confusion and create an effective solution for you.
Remember, taking incorrect supplements is not just ineffective, it can lead to health problems. But, when you chose the correct protocol, it might not only prevent some future health problems but correct existing ones.
This post is not medical advice, only information for your educational purposes. Always seek medical advice from your healthcare physician.
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Disclaimer: This is general information only. Consult with Dr. Maya Sarkisyan before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment or care, or starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, or if you have, or suspect you might have, a health condition that requires medical attention.