Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin in response to sunlight. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can affect as many as 2,000 genes in your body.
Vitamin D is produced when sunlight converts cholesterol on the skin into calciol (vitamin D3) which is then converted into calcidiol (25-hydroxyvitamin D3) in the liver and lastly converted by the kidneys into the active form of vitamin D, called calcitriol (1,25-hydroxyvitamin D3).
Dr. Michael Holick, MD, a pioneer in vitamin D research stated “The data shows that nearly every tissue and cell type in the body has receptors for vitamin D.” Studies show approximately 64% of Americans don’t have enough vitamin D to keep all of their tissues operating at peak capacity.
A new study shows patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who were vitamin D deficient experienced worse outcomes than those with normal levels of the vitamin.
According to Luigi Gennari, MD, of the University of Siena in Italy, Vitamin D is an important regulator of immune function and modulates the inflammatory response to infection. He states, “Low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in hospitalized COVID-19 patients were inversely associated with the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) requiring admission to the ICU. Indeed, vitamin D through its receptor may be implicated in the regulation of many pathways that seem to be involved in the progression and severity of COVID-19 by turning down the cytokine storm, protecting the integrity of the epithelial barrier, and limiting the prothrombotic state commonly seen in severe COVID-19 cases."
The University of Chicago Medicine has found a link between vitamin D deficiency and the likelihood of being infected with COVID-19 — those with an untreated deficiency were more likely to test positive.
Dr. David Meltzer, MD, PhD, chief of hospital medicine at University of Chicago Medicine, Illinois, says, "I think the body of work from Italy suggests that people should be taking supplements if they cannot increase sun exposure on a sustained basis. The abstract supports multiple prior findings that suggest that higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved outcomes."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has recently stated, “If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. So, I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements.”
Research also show that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of numerous chronic disorders, including bone loss, type II diabetes, cancer, infections, and cardiovascular, autoimmune, and neurological diseases. Other studies show that people with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of these diseases.
There are two prominent forms of vitamin D: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Research over the last ten years has produced an overwhelming amount of evidence that vitamin D3 is better absorbed and utilized making at least 300% more effective than D2.
BONE & MUSCLE: Vitamin D is most well-known for building strong bones and teeth by regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It also blocks the release of parathyroid hormone. This hormone reabsorbs bone tissue, which causes bones to become thin and brittle. It is also important for muscle building.
CARDIOVASCULAR: According to a study published in the 2008 medical journal Circulation, Vitamin D decreases your chance of developing heart disease by decreasing calcium plaque formations in the arteries and helps decrease stiffening of the arterial system which is associated with elevated blood pressure (hypertension). Vitamin D is also essential for brain health.
CANCER: Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death and by reducing cell proliferation and metastases.
Vitamin D levels can be lowered by certain medications. These include: laxatives, steroids like prednisone, acid inhibitors such as Omeprazole & Prilosec, and seizure control drugs such as Dilantin.
A study published in the September 2016 Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found people who were exposed to larger amounts of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC’s), particularly phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) were more likely to have low levels of vitamin D in the bloodstream, particularly women. EDCs are everywhere and can cause adverse health effects by interfering with hormones in the body. There are more than 85,000 manufactured chemicals we are exposed to of which thousands are potentially endocrine disrupters.
To know if you are Vitamin D deficient check with your doctor to see if you have been tested or need to be tested and get the actual lab test numbers!
I recommend 60 ng/mL as ideal for adults.
So how much vitamin D3 do you need to take?
The lower you score on your blood test the more vitamin D3 you need to take. Typically if needed most people take between 1,000 iu & 5,000 iu of Vitamin D3 per day.
Jane Jansen Holistic Practitioner Tree of Life Wellness Center Seekonk MA
Host Holistic Healthline Radio