Spotlight on Vitamin D

2 November 2020

Vitamin D is not one chemical but many, known as "the sunshine vitamin" because we naturally create it from sunlight and cholesterol - yes!  to make vitamin D3. In contrast, most dietary supplements are manufactured by exposing a plant “sterol” to ultraviolet energy, and producing vitamin D2.

This first “form” of Vit D3 stops in the liver, picking up extra oxygen and hydrogen molecules to become 25-hydroxyvitamin D, or 25(OH)D. This is the chemical that doctors usually measure to diagnose vitamin D deficiencies. But although 25(OH)D is used for diagnosis, it can't function anyway as effectively until it travels to the kidney, to acquire a final pair of oxygen and hydrogen molecules to become 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D; scientists know this active form of the vitamin as 1,25(OH)2D, or calcitriol.

Vitamin D3 is a vital nutrient improving our brain, bone, heart, and digestive health as well as supporting a strong immune system.   Because pigmentation can reduce vitamin D production in the skin by over 90%, non-white populations are at particular risk. Deficiencies are also common in those with intestinal disorders that limit absorption of fat and those with kidney or liver diseases that reduce the conversion of vitamin D to its active form. In addition, certain medications reduce the availability or activity of vitamin D and if you have a SNP on the Vitamin D receptor gene (VDR) you will be at risk of deficiency . Although standards vary, most experts agree that levels of 25(OH)D below 20 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter) reflect clear-cut vitamin D inadequacy, while levels between 20 and 30 ng/ml are borderline.

Don’t ask me how much you should take, as I don’t know YOUR blood levels -  so test, and supplement accordingly -  more is definitely not better, as you can take too much and as it’s a fat soluble vitamin will have an additive effect. 

Another vitamin that helps with many of the same things that vitamin D3 does - heart, bone, and cognitive health is Vitamin K2. This is another fat-soluble vitamin produced in small amounts in the body, also found in grass-fed beef, fatty fish, and some fermented foods.

New research, has shown that when you put vitamin D3 and K2 together, magic happens. As a perfect pair, they amplify the abilities of one another. This includes boosting your bone and heart health, helps to fight diabetes, and of course, improving your immune function.

Some foods are naturally high in Vitamin D (oily fish, mushrooms and egg yolks), however, testing and supplementing accordingly over the autumn and winter with the two vitamins is often the best solution. Let's help one another to get through this second wave healthy and stronger than ever before!