Admission: I have taken this info from Dr Will Cole's site because he has written it so well and to introduce you to him. If you don't already know of Will, I would highly recommend signing up for his informative newsletter and his social pages. Most recently, he is the host of the popular podcast, goop Men.
No other vitamin can hold a candle to vitamin D when it comes to importance and influence on health.
Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, it acts more like a hormone than a vitamin by regulating hundreds of uber-important pathways in your body.
Besides your thyroid hormones, this vitamin is the only other thing every single cell of your body needs in order to function properly.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is synthesized by your body when your bare skin is exposed to sunlight.
It is impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone, and unless you live in a very sunny place (like near the equator) and are outside frequently without sunscreen, you are probably deficient.
1. Fights depression
Have you ever noticed how sitting in the sun makes you feel good? The vitamin D activated by that sun exposure acts as an antidepressant in your system, which makes sense when you consider how many people get the “winter blues” coinciding with decreasing amounts of sunshine during the colder months.
2. Reduces asthma
Studies show that pregnant moms with higher vitamin D intake give birth to babies with a 40 percent reduced risk of developing asthma.
Other research suggests that vitamin D has a protective effect against upper-respiratory infections in adults.
3. Balances immunity
Vitamin D is an integral part of your immune system, so it’s no surprise that low levels of vitamin D are associated with autoimmune conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disorders, and autoimmune thyroid problems (like Hashimoto’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis). Conversely, optimal levels are linked with symptom improvement.
4. Strengthens bones
Just in case you haven’t heard, vitamin D prevents the breakdown of bone and increases the strength of the skeletal system.
5. Boosts brain power
6. Fights cancer
People who have optimal vitamin D levels have lower levels of breast, prostate, colon, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer. There is also some evidence that this vitamin can both kill cancer cells and impede their growth by up to 50 percent!
7. Improves fertility
8. Protects the heart
9. Calms inflammation
Inflammation is the common link between most chronic health problems, and vitamin D is an essential part of the body’s capability to squelch the inflammatory storm going on.
10. Revs up metabolism
In one study, supplementing with D for 12 weeks decreased body fat by 7 percent.
Low levels are also linked to metabolic syndrome, which is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
11. Enhances physical performance
Supplementing with this important vitamin has been shown to boost muscle strength and physical performance. Vitamin D has also been shown in some studies to increase balance, decreasing falls by 20 percent.
12. Improves sleep
Sleep is so important for feeling and looking your best, and healthy levels of D are associated with better sleep quality.
Ok, vitamin D is super important; so what can I do about it?
Here’s your new vitamin D-boosting lifestyle plan:
1. Test your vitamin D levels.
In functional medicine, we aim for optimally healthy levels (not just within the lab’s reference range), which we consider to be somewhere between 60 and 80, depending on the person.
2. Get some sun.
Spending some time out in the sun, about 20 to 60 minutes (depending on where you live in the world and your skin tone) without sunscreen is a great way to boost your D levels.
3. Eat more vitamin D-rich food.
These are some of favorites:
- Cod liver oil: 1 teaspoon: 440 IU (over 100 percent Daily Value)
- Sardines: 3 ounces: 164 IU (41 percent Daily Value)
- Salmon: 3 ounces: 400 IU (100 percent Daily Value)
- Mackerel: 3 ounces: 400 IU (100 percent Daily Value)
- Tuna: 3 ounces: 228 IU (57 percent Daily Value)
- Raw grass-fed milk: 1 cup: 98 IU (24 percent Daily Value)
- Caviar: 1 ounce: 33 IU (8 percent Daily Value)
- Organic eggs: 1 large: 41 IU (10 percent Daily Value)
- Mushrooms: 1 cup: 2 IU (1 percent Daily Value)
4. Supplement as needed.
Since it’s difficult to get vitamin D exclusively through food, and most of us don’t spend enough time outside in the sun, supplementation may be necessary. Based on where your starting level is, it is suggested to supplement with anywhere between 2,000 and 6,000 IU of vitamin D each day. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, try drops and capsules that include MCT oil or coconut oil, of take either of these oils with your vitamin D3 supplement.
Look for supplements without added fillers or colors.
If you are looking for a vitmain D3 supplement containing higher amounts of D3, please contact me.
5. Tap into vitamin synergy.
When getting your vitamin D levels up to where they should be, it’s best to include the other fat-soluble vitamins: A, E, and K2. These vitamins are uber important in their own right and help balance out the vitamin D, making it more bioavailable but also preventing levels from getting too high. You can supplement with these, but I also suggest focusing on food jam-packed with these fat-soluble vitamins. Check out my article on the subject to learn more.
If you have had your vitamin D tested by your doctor, you'll find that the standard reference range for vitamin D levels falls between 50 and 60 ng/mL. In functional medicine, we aim for an optimal range between 60 and 80 ng/mL. Depending on where your starting levels are, you should be taking anywhere between 2,000 and 6,000 IU of vitamin D per day. Make sure to test your vitamin D levels to find out your starting point, and retest to gauge how your vitamin D level optimization is going. This is a common and easy test and your doctor will likely be fine with it if you ask.
How to incorporate
Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, take advantage of vitamin synergy by combining your supplement with other fat-soluble vitamins, such as A and K2. This will help make it more bioavailable and balanced. It’s also a great idea to take them with fatty foods like avocado, olive oil, wild-caught fish, and coconut to increase their bioavailabiltiy. If you put fats in your daily smoothie (and you should!), this is a good time to pop that vitamin D as well.
It is highly recommended that serum 25(OH)- and 1,25(OH)2-vitamin D be monitored every 60-90 days while consuming this product to ensure that levels remain in an acceptable range. Retest every two or three months to ensure your levels don’t go too high, which isn’t good either.
- Steroids, phenobarbital and dilantin can interfere with vitamin D metabolism
- Orlistat and cholestyramine may interfere with vitamin D absorption
- This product is manufactured in a facility that produces products containing soy, tree nuts, and crustacean shellfish.