Vitamin D – Vital ‘Sunshine’ Hormone That 1 Billion Are Deficient In

Key Takeaways:

  1. Nearly 1 billion people have insufficient Vitamin D levels for supporting optimal health
  2. RNI of 400 IU will lead to Vitamin D deficiency
  3. 4,000-5,000 IU taken in the morning is considered an optimal level to supplement
  4. Attempt to get UVB ray sunshine exposure when you can, as this produces Vitamin D
  5. Vitamin D helps with Immune, Heart & Brain health, in addition to preserving insulin sensitivity and guarding against cancer

Why Is There Such Widespread Deficiency?

The biggest reason for such widespread deficiency is that it’s tough to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D from our diets alone, plus the RNI (Reference Nutrient Intake set by governing bodies) is considered the absolute minimum level to sustain life.

That issue is exacerbated by the fact that you cannot adequately synthesise Vitamin D within your body. By design, the primary source of Vitamin D for humans is through sun exposure on our skin, with diet playing a small role comparatively. But, as modern societies has developed, we spend almost all of our time inside buildings and with most of our skin covered up. We simply are not getting the sun exposure necessary for the natural process of producing adequate Vitamin D to occur.

RNI vs Optimal Health Intake

The daily RNI in the UK is set to 400IU, but many scientists are claiming at these levels it will lead to Vitamin D deficiencies.

A growing body of research shows that 2,000 IU per day is the minimum needed to maintain vitamin D sufficiency, but for optimum Vitamin D status within the body you should be looking to consume/produce closer to 5,000 IU daily.

Can you overdose on Vitamin D? It’s very difficult – you would need to be at 40,000 IU per day over the course of months, or somehow consume 300,000 in a single day.

Why Is Vitamin D So Important?

Without trying to geek out too much, Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin – it’s a vital hormone. Hormones are the bodies chemical messengers, providing instructions to cells, tissues and organs to take the necessary action dependant on the circumstance. And with Vitamin D in particular, nearly every type of tissue and cell in the body has vitamin D receptors, meaning that it has significant influence over a large number of physiological processes.

Vitamin D regulates genes that control immune function, metabolism, and even cell growth and development.

As a result, if you have symptoms that suggest distress, inflammation or a lowered immune system, it is often recommended to significantly increase your Vitamin D intake.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk in a number of diseases, such as Osteoporosis, Heart disease, Stroke, Cancers, Type 1 diabetes and Tuberculosis.

Hormones Diagram

The Biggest Vitamin D Benefits:

#1 – Helps Maintain Immune Health – Immune cells rely on vitamin D to regulate how they respond to threats in the body, first by attacking and destroying, followed by cleaning up and returning to a state of readiness.

#2 – Keeps Your Brain Healthy – Insufficient Vitamin D levels dramatically increase the risk of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. The brain relies on Vitamin D to combat various destructive processes. Vitamin D also supports learning and memory, as it helps create new nerve cells and maintaining brain plasticity.

#3 – Helps Preserve Insulin Sensitivity – Vitamin D deficiency nearly doubles your risk of reaching a “pre-diabetic” level of insulin resistance. And preserving insulin sensitivity not only helps maintain optimal overall health but also helps with building muscle by magnifying the muscle-building effects of proteins.

#4 – Supports Heart Health – The heart is jam packed with Vitamin D receptors, indicating the importance of Vitamin D for optimal health and function. Vitamin D helps with cardiovascular health by reducing the fats in your blood that increase risk of heart disease, by relaxing blood vessels that in turn improve blood pressure/flow, and by improving your cholesterol profile.

#5 – Guards Against Cancer – Studies suggest that breast, thyroid and bladder cancer is strongly correlated with chronically low levels of Vitamin D. This is due to the fact that Vitamin D receptors control a number of processes regarding the immune response to cancer cells, tumour growth, and inflammation.

When & How To Get Sufficient Vitamin D

As above, you cannot rely solely on a modern diet to get sufficient levels of Vitamin D. There are small amounts in various foods like beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks, and fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel – we’re talking from a few IU up to about 150UI. Cod liver oil is by far the best food source with over 1,300 IU per tablespoon.

If you live in a warm climate with lots of year-round sunshine, and you have the opportunity to be outdoors for large chunks of the every day, then your body could produce adequate Vitamin D through skin exposure to UVB rays alone. The more skin that is exposed to the sun, and the stronger its rays, the more Vitamin D you produce. For example, with 25% of our skin exposed, our bodies can produce upwards of 400 IU’s of vitamin D in just 3-6 minutes of exposure to midday sun in a warm climate.

Vitamin D in my life
Grabbing the rare chance for some winter sunshine exposure in the UK. I take two of these Vitamin D tablets a day, in the morning.
Supplementing is therefore key

Knowing we are not all fortunate enough to live in year-round sunny climates, nor get adequate time outdoors due to mostly indoor work during the day, then we have to rely on supplementation to fill the Vitamin D gap.

Look to pick up a Vitamin D3 supplement from a reputable company, and aim to take 4,000 to 5,000 IU’s worth a day. Unlike the other fat-soluble vitamins, A, E and K, the sunshine vitamin is absorbed well without food, so it can be taken alone or alongside food. I strongly recommend taking it in the morning, as Vitamin D temporarily pauses the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone and therefore could disrupt sleep if taken too late.

 


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