Vitamin D, although it’s called a vitamin, “D” is actually a steroid hormone that acts as a catalyst for processes that protect our cells–and it is vital to our health.
Every tissue in the body needs this vitamin, yet a large percentage of the world’s population is deficient, or borderline deficient in vitamin D. Even a mild deficiency can contribute to chronic and autoimmune diseases such diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, cancer (including ovarian, colon, and breast), multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis.
Sunlight, Sunscreen & Vitamin D
Nature intended for us to get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, but absorption is blocked by sunscreen. We need bare-skin sun exposure for 15-20 minutes a day; most of us don’t get that. Additionally, we don’t eat enough D-rich foods, which include egg yolk, cod liver oil, shiitake mushrooms, and wild salmon. Fortified milk/dairy is not the best source because you need several cups every day. For anyone intolerant of dairy products, this food category is off limits.
The best way to help the body establish optimal levels of “D” is to take a supplement.
The recommended blood level of vitamin D (above 25 nmol/L) was established to protect people from bone disease (rickets and osteomalacia). From the natural medicine perspective (and emerging scientific data), that threshold is too low to protect against serious illness or to promote optimal health. Depending on the individual, holistic physicians identify 45-90 nmol/L as the ideal blood level for disease prevention.
Age, gender, diet, stress level, and lifestyle factors affect absorption of “D”. A holistic physician can order a blood test prior to starting a supplement to help ensure you take the appropriate amount and form of vitamin D. Follow-up testing tracks improvement in your levels and health conditions. Your doctor can then adjust your supplement dose accordingly.
Holick, M.F., “Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (1 December 2004) 80: 6,–1688S.
NIH.gov “Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.”