Yep, research is now confirming that vitamin D is much more than a “vitamin” – not that vitamins are chopped liver, mind you.
- First, low vitamin D levels are associated with many diseases such as cancer, autoimmune disease, and hypertension.
- Second, because of our modern culture’s misguided fear of sun exposure (think sunscreens), vitamin D deficiency is quite common in most parts of the world. Yes, it’s true we don’t want to “burn” our skin from overexposure to sun, but we now know that regular sun exposure is important for vitamin D, a critical hormone, to be manufactured by our body.
- Third, vitamin D is made from cholesterol through activation of sunlight on the skin. [By the way, cholesterol is not bad – that’s an unscientific myth that has been shamelessly fed to the American public by misinformed doctors and the pharmacologic industry – drug companies – that drive the healthcare system today1,2,3,4].
Vitamin D has long been known as an essential nutrient, mainly for its critical role in calcium and phosphate homeostasis, which directly and indirectly affect many important cellular functions throughout the body, such as bone health (severe vitamin D deficiency has long been known to cause rickets; but also, remember adenosine triphosphate, ATP, from your high school biology – the Kreb’s cycle – for chemical energy transport and cellular metabolism and respiration); calcium and phospate biochemistry impacts nearly all cell functions.
In the past two decades, vitamin D’s influence on the immune system was discovered5. Now, more recently, vitamin D is being shown to be a significant hormone involved in many endocrine functions including the induction of cell differentiation, inhibition of cell growth, immunomodulation, and finally, regulation of other hormonal systems6,7.
What should you do?
- Get regular exposure to sunlight, if possible.
- If you live in an area that precludes you from getting regular sun exposure, especially in the winter, supplement with vitamin D3: (the Bonfire doctors take 4,000 – 5,000 IU per day).
- Find a tanning salon that has updated technology (electronic instead of magnetic ballasts, UVB, Infrared, Red and Blue Light bulbs).
1The Cholesterol Myths, Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD
2The Cholesterol Myth That Could Be Harming Your Health, Huffington Post, Joseph Mercola, MD.
3Fat is Good
4Medical Science Gone Bad
5Mora JR, Iwata M, von Andrian UH. Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage. Nat Rev Immunol 2008; 8:685–698.
6Norman A. From vitamin D to hormone D: fundamentals of the vitamin D endocrine system essential for good health. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 88:491S–499S.
7Dusso A, Brown A, Slatopolsky E. Vitamin D. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol 2005; 289:F8–F28.