I remember when information about vitamin D began hitting the media. The “Big Idea” was that although vitamin C was important to your immune system and preventing colds and the flu, vitamin D may be even more important.
Over the following years, and reading past research, it turns out vitamin D has more power than you may have learned in the popular media – and there are forms of the vitamin you can purchase on the store shelves that may be dangerous to your health.
It occurred to me that while health and wellness information is incredibly important to us as single mothers, this topic was one that should be addressed more sooner than later. After all, we are the teachers, drivers, cooks, housekeepers, chief breadwinners and a myriad of other roles – none of which you can afford to take a day off from.
In the past years I’ve ghostwritten quite a bit about vitamin D for different physicians. It’s time I shared some of this information with my own readers, whose families may ultimately benefit from the knowledge. Because there is so much, I’m going to list out the more important points first. In the coming months we might cover more to help you keep your health tip-top.
Despite the name, vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that your body naturally manufactures with exposure to the sun, or from some of the foods you eat. Many of the abilities of this steroid hormone is due to the ability it has to influence your genetic expression.
To break that down . . . you have genes and DNA that determine specific ways your body acts and reacts. Your genes can be turned on or off by environmental factors and nutrients – including the bacteria living in your gut and vitamin D.
When your gut bacteria contains too many unfriendly bacteria it can adversely affect your health through genetic expression. The same is true of vitamin D. When your levels are not optimized, your genes are turned on or off depending upon the availability of the hormone.
Vitamin D is also involved in the biochemistry of all cells and tissues in your body – so when your body doesn’t have enough, your entire system struggles to function optimally. As a general rule, it’s best to optimize your vitamin D levels naturally – through exposure to the sun. However, working inside, living in the northern hemisphere and winter weather prevents most people from achieving this goal.
The BEST way to get vitamin D is from the sun.
Although traditional medicine would like you to believe damage from the sun leads to melanoma (one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer with a high fatality rate), the truth of the matter is that it’s much more complicated than that.
Safe sun exposure will actually reduce your risk of developing melanoma. The real damage happens with sunburns, which you should avoid at all costs. Instead, getting sun exposure during the warmest times of the day for short periods helps your body produce vitamin D and several other biochemical reactions that keep you healthy.
Not all sunscreen is created equally
In fact, most sunscreen contains nanoparticles of chemicals designed to sink into your skin and prevent sunburn. Unfortunately, your body absorbs those particles, increasing your risk for disease over time. Instead, check out the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Cosmetics Database for a sunscreen that meets your needs to prevent a burn, but doesn’t increase your risk of exposure to toxic chemicals and disease.
Some sunscreens are actually linked to higher risk of skin cancer, especially those containing retinyl palmitate, synthetic fragrances and oxybenzone. The substances that are safest for the environment and for your skin contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide – but not with nanoparticles!
If you supplement, it’s important to choose the right one
Research has demonstrated those who use vitamin D2 supplements (which are sold over the counter), have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack than those who use no supplement or those who take vitamin D3.
The safest form of supplement to take is vitamin D3, which is more bioavailable to your body and more bioactive once absorbed. The only way to know that you are taking the right amount of vitamin D3 is to have a serum (blood) test done. Your blood levels should be between 50-70 ng/ml.
Include vitamin K2 MK-7 with vitamin D3 supplement to protect your arteries.
Normally, your body manufactures vitamin D from the sun in a form that doesn’t create problems in your blood vessels. However, the supplement form needs vitamin K2 in the MK-7 form to prevent hardening of the arteries. Be sure that it’s the MK-7 form. The usual combination is 100 mcg of K2 for every 1000 IU of vitamin D3.
Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Macular Degeneration and more affected by vitamin D
The importance of normalizing your vitamin D levels can’t be overstated. Research in the past decade have pointed to less than optimal levels of vitamin D levels associated with specific forms of cancer, in the active growth of many different cancers, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis and more.
Health conditions rooted in chronic inflammation are affected by your vitamin D levels. Rheumatic diseases, bowel diseases and pregnancy are also included in the list of conditions affected by your level of vitamin D. In fact, one study demonstrated that pregnant women who had low levels of vitamin D were twice as likely to have children with developmental language difficulties.
Low levels of vitamin D linked to premature death and dementia
Researchers found those with lower levels of the vitamin doubled their risk of premature death from all-cause mortality than those with optimal levels of the vitamin. Vitamin D also plays an important role in your brain health. People with low levels have an increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D is essential for mineral balance in your body
Minerals are essential for your body to function and prevent disease. In order to keep your minerals balanced, you need optimal levels of vitamin D.
At this point it may have become obvious that most of your bodily systems are interrelated.
This means that addressing problems in one area of your body, without considering how it may affect the rest of your functioning is a poor choice. Unfortunately, it’s exactly how modern medicine has evolved over time. It is only recently that some physicians are beginning to recognize that creating an imbalance in one area may negatively affect the rest of your body.
This becomes very obvious when you consider side-effects from many of the medications being sold by pharmaceutical companies. In order to reduce your blood pressure, the medication may cause a whole host of side-effects and problems – most of which your doctor wants to treat with more medicine that have more side-effects.
The ultimate answer is to address the health of your whole body and not see your body as a conglomeration of individual systems.