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  • Elianni Gaio

Vitamin D - Part 4 - The 3 Sources of Vitamin D, Our Modern Habits Sabotaging our Health, and More

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Vitamin D - Part 4

In the first two articles of this series (Part I, Part II), I described vitamin D from concept, deficiency, toxicity to what is the recommended vitamin D levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the third article, I spoke about the results of the first randomized controlled trial on vitamin D after the COVID-19 pandemic, vitamin D key points to keep in mind, and the recommendations for adequate vitamin D intake after the pandemic.

And in this last article, you are going to learn about the three sources of vitamin D, the use of sunscreen blocking vitamin D production, and more.

How can we get vitamin D?

There are three effective sources for obtaining vitamin D, which are:

1- Ingesting foods rich in this vitamin

2- Exposure to ultraviolet light, from the sun and UV lamps

3- And the use of supplements

And below you can find the basics of each vitamin D source. (1, 2, 3)

Let’s start with exposure to ultraviolet light from sunlight

Sunlight is the optimal source of vitamin D. However, the benefits of sun exposure go far beyond improving vitamin D status, as we are going to see below.

In reality, the exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight provides the mechanism for the production of more than 90% of vitamin D in most individuals and is needed in order to regulate many other functions in our body.

As daytime creatures, we humans are genetically programmed to be outdoors while the sun is shining and sleeping at night. That is why melatonin is produced during the night and the production of melatonin stops optical exposure to daylight.

Melatonin is a pineal hormone and a key precursor to many of the body's circadian rhythms and plays an important role in fighting infection, inflammation, cancer and autoimmunity. And when we are exposed to sunlight early in the morning the nocturnal production of melatonin happens earlier, and we sleep more easily at night.

Also, serotonin, the precursor to melatonin, is affected by exposure to sunlight. Normally produced during the day, serotonin is only converted to melatonin when is dark. And moderately high levels of serotonin result in a more positive mood and a calm but focused mental outlook.

And the sunlight benefit list goes on and on…

Simple changes in our habits such as going to bed and waking up at the same time and exposing ourselves to sunlight in the first hour of our day can have a big impact on melatonin rhythms. Resulting in improvements in mood, energy and quality of sleep.

The intensity of the light we receive when we are outside on a sunny day has benefits that we would never have by living only indoors. And what is alarming is that most cases of vitamin D deficiency are because of lack of sun exposures and outdoors areas. Result of our modern lifestyle, with indoor activities and air conditioner.

Then, it is very important for people who work indoors to take at least small breaks outdoors in the fresh air, since even in the shadows for 10-15 minutes can bring numerous significant benefits to health and well-being.

An example about how important is to be outdoors and exposed to the sun is the results of these last few months of quarantine (six-months-tine) where a large part of the world population is in complete isolation, avoiding outdoors areas and sun exposure. And consequently, we are seeing an epidemic of sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, and health problems in general, affecting people all around the globe. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

How about the use of sunscreens?

Sunscreen, another modern habit that blooks not only the production of vitamin D but the beneficial cascade of little things that happens in our body, all produced in the skin in response to UVB exposure.

In the Weston A. Price Foundation website, there is an amazing article talking about the “way we have been brainwashed into believing that the sun is toxic, whereas in fact it is life-giving”. And below you can read this article summary (but I extremely recommend you investing your time in reading this full article):

•" Sulfate synthesis in the skin captures the sun’s energy. Adequate sunlight exposure to both the skin and the eyes is vital to our long-term health. • Among other functions, sulfate supports blood vessel health, the body’s electrical supply and the delivery system for important molecules such as cholesterol, vitamin D, dopamine and melatonin. • Evidence indicates that sunlight protects against cancer, heart disease, hypertension and bone fractures. • The benefits of sunlight exposure are about much more than vitamin D • Many studies show that vitamin D supplementation cannot reproduce sunlight’s health benefits. Moreover, excessive vitamin D supplementation can aggravate systemic sulfate deficiency, which will drive calcium buildup in the arteries. • Both sunscreen and glyphosate interfere with synthesis and production of melanin—the body’s natural mechanism of sun protection. Aluminum in sunscreen disrupts sulfate synthesis. These disruptions may explain why melanoma prevalence has steadily risen in tandem with the increased use of higher sun-protection-factor sunscreens over the past two decades”.

Who is the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF)?

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated non-industrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price’s research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats”.

Sunglasses and Vitamin D production

The use of sunglasses limits the entry of sunlight into the eyes, promoting changes in the rhythms of melatonin, causing sleep, mood and energy disorder (because the melatonin/serotonin/D vitamin production. And more. (9, 10)

How long do we need to be exposed to the sun?

The answer to this question depends on some factors as:

. The time of the day (morning, lunch, afternoon)

. The time of the year (Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn)

. The location or latitude

. Level of pollution of the place

. The presence of buildings reducing the availability of UVB light

. The degree of our skin, color or pigmentation (the darker the skin, the longer it takes)

. How much of the body was exposed to the sun?

Keep in mind that we need larger areas of the body directly exposed to sunlight or UV light for our body to start producing vitamin D, for about half the time it takes to the skin to turn pink.

For example, in the Summer, people with pale skin, exposing their entire bodies to the sun, without clothes or sun protection, takes about half the time it takes to the skin to turn pink, about 30 minutes to the synthesis between 10,000 and 20,000 IU of vitamin D.

However, for people who live in higher altitudes, outside the tropics or at times of the year with bad weather and deprived from the sun or people with darker skins, who are only exposing parts of their bodies to the sun, could produce much less of vitamin D.

Also, individuals with fat malabsorption syndromes, that can make oral intake or vitamin D supplementation ineffective or people who live in places with little sunlight, exposure to lamps that emit UVB radiation can also be effective in raising their blood levels of 25(OH)D. (11, 12, 13, 14)

For more information, there is a free application, dminder that provides to their users information on sun exposure and vitamin D production.

Dietary sources of vitamin D:

Vitamin D is found naturally in only a few foods. Foods containing vitamin D include some fatty fish, eggs from free-range chickens, pasture raise animals, among others.

Below is a list of some foods that have vitamin D:

- Herring

- Horsetail

- Sockeye Salmon (wild salmon/not farm-raised)

- Canned sardines

- Pork, beef or chicken liver

- Pork

- Egg yolks of duck or free-range chicken

- Fat and yellow cheeses

- Mushrooms

The best idea is to implement a nutrient-dense diet, with very high-quality animal products in order to provide all nutrients needed for good health and well-being, including vitamin D. (15, 16, 17)

Vitamin D in the form of supplements

An important point to keep in mind is that sometimes correcting nutrient imbalances is not as simple as it sounds.

What happens is that many nutrients work well when they are in groups, cooperating with one another. And vitamin D is one of these nutrients that interact or work synergistically with the fat-soluble vitamins A and K2. One needs the other in order to support the immune health, provide adequate growth, support strong bones and teeth, and protect the soft tissues of the body from calcification (as our arteries).

In fact, the vitamins A, D and K2 are powerful substances that help our body absorb and utilize minerals. So, when we have a large quantity of one of these vitamins alone, it can cause toxicity in the other or mineral imbalances.

For example, adequate levels of vitamins A and K might be protective against the toxic effects of excessive vitamin D supplementation. Nutritional imbalances of vitamin A is a risk factor that might influence vitamin D toxicity. Vitamin D toxicity can increase blood calcium levels, which increases the risk of vascular calcification, etc. In other words, these fat-soluble vitamins work as a true team. (18, 19, 20, 21)

Besides, these fat-soluble vitamins are dependent on other nutrients and in metabolic aspects as well. For example, magnesium is required for the production of all proteins, including those that interact with vitamins A and D. Zinc for proper vitamin A metabolism, and for both vitamin A and D to function properly. Likewise, a meal that contains fat is needed to enhance the absorption in the intestine of these fat-soluble vitamins.

Because the complex level of interaction between the fat-soluble vitamins, the safest way to obtain them is when we respect the wisdom of nature through a nutrient-dense diet. And by the way, getting the fat-soluble vitamins throughout our diet appears to improve their overall health benefits.

However, if supplementation is temporarily necessary, the best way to supplement with vitamin D and protect frompossible excesses of this vitamin, which can accumulate to toxic levels, is through the use of a good quality cod liver oil.

Cod liver oil is a balanced source of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, in a perfect balance as everything we find in the Mother Nature. But not all brands of cod liver oils on the market are created equal.

Since cod liver oil is a lipid or a fat, and fats are one of the most important macronutrients in our diet, required for proper brain function, cell membranes, etc., we need to be extra careful when choosing a brand of cod liver oil for consumption. And the rule number one is to avoid highly processed and altered average products in the market, that are highly processed and produced under elevated temperatures, as it destroys and oxidates these products, turning them toxic to consumption.

Currently, the only brand of cod liver oil I use and recommend is Rosita. Why Rosita? Rosita is the only company that does not process their products. They use an ancient Viking technique of removing the oil, basically done by hand, without using heat or chemicals. And the oil is made with raw fish livers, fresh and caught in the wild. Which means that they keep all the precious natural ingredients in their products. The extra virgin cod liver oil Rosita is a supplement that is very close to a food with a perfect balance of the vitamins D and A.

In addition, along with cod liver oil, it is suggested to increase the consumption of foods rich in vitamin K2, or even using vitamin K2 in supplement form.

Vitamin K2 is associated with the inhibition of arterial calcification and hardening. Which means that increased consumption of vitamin K2 might lower the health risks related to increased vascular calcification.

Remember that as a team, vitamins A, D and K2 have always been present in abundance in the nutrient-rich diet of our ancestors and can be found in foods of animal origin, such as animal organs, lard, or chicken, duck, lamb or any animal fat, butter, yellow and hard cheeses, ghee, whole milk from pasture raised cows, eating green grass pastures. Also, from the egg yolks of pasture raised animals, and from fatty wild fish and shellfish. (22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27)

Below, I listed some reliable sources where you can get more information on this subject:

I hope these vitamin D articles were helpful to you.

Please leave your comment or question in the link below.

See you soon.

Important Disclaimer:

I am not a medical doctor, and this is not a medical recommendation or advice. As a functional nutrition and health coach my work with clients is guiding changes in itheir diets and lifestyles (epigenetics), in order to treat, revert or prevent chronic health problems.

I cannot prescribe, recommend or stop any of my clients from taking medication or supplements. However, my effort is to inform them about the best way to protect themselves against possible harmful effects in both, excess and deficiencies of nutrients. Also, I teach them how to find their vital nutrients in their own plates.

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