Vitamin D helps to support your immune system and keep you healthy. It also supports your brain health, keeps bones strong, fights against depression, and helps keep your hormones in balance, and a whole lot of other amazing things!
Unlike other vitamins, only about 10 percent of the vitamin D the body needs comes from food (such as dairy products and oily fish), and the rest, the body makes for itself. The body makes vitamin D in a chemical reaction that occurs when sunlight hits the skin. This reaction produces cholecalciferol, and the liver converts it to calcidiol. The kidneys then convert the substance to calcitriol, which is the active form of the hormone in the body.
The chemical structures of the types of vitamin D are slightly different, and they are named Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol, which comes from plants) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol, which comes from animals). The D2 form is found in fortified foods and in most vitamin preparations and supplements. Vitamin D3 is the form produced in the body and is also used in some supplements. Vitamin D2 and D3 are equally effective when they are converted by the liver and the kidney into the active form, 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D or Calcitriol.
So, you’re probably wondering why vitamin D is really that important for our bodies. Vitamin D supports many functions:
- Regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in our bloodstream
- Stimulates calcification of the bone – in other words, it gives us strong bones!
- Increases absorption of calcium from the intestines (helps us absorb calcium from food)
- Decreases calcium excretion from the kidneys (keeps us from losing calcium we need)
- Provides serious immune support and protects from autoimmunity
- Helps to regulate blood pressure
- Fights against depression
- Reduces the severity of hot flashes
- Works in the body with many other nutrients including Calcium and Vitamin K2
There are many signs and symptoms within the body that could indicate a vitamin D deficiency including osteoporosis, osteopenia, breast or colon cancer, heart disease, inflammation, autoimmune conditions (multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, lupus, etc.), lowered immune function, depression and insulin resistance.
Sometimes a Vitamin D deficiency is only marked by feeling a bit tired or sluggish, feeling down or in low spirits regularly, or just getting sick often. It’s important to note that while these symptoms might indicate vitamin or nutrient deficiencies, there may also be other health conditions or issues at play.
But there’s more to supplementing than just knowing whether you’re deficient in a certain nutrient. Your DNA tells more of the story. There are specific genes that affect vitamin D transportation, conversion from the inactive to an active form of vitamin D, sunlight conversion, and how well vitamin D can bind to, and enter the cells.
With my program, DNA Made Simple, you can unlock your genetic potential to optimize your health. When approaching your health, it’s important to consider all of the factors: underlying inflammation or infection, diet, lifestyle habits, gut health, hormone imbalances, and the list goes on. With all of that, your genetics – your personal DNA code – holds many of the keys to optimizing your health, and that includes understanding which vitamins and nutrients your body may not be able to use or transport efficiently.
It’s important to get as many nutrients as possible from food sources. For Vitamin D, that means eating foods like fatty, cold-water fish (for example, sardines, salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna), eggs, liver and other organ meats, and cheese.
You should also aim to get direct sunlight on your skin every day. That means 10-15 minutes, with as much skin showing as possible, and leave off the sunscreen.
Based upon your specific genotype, eating enough foods with vitamin D, and getting extra sun time, just aren’t enough and supplementation is necessary. I recommend supplementing with the D3 form and always include vitamin K2, which is necessary for absorption. The dose of D3 will vary from person to person depending on their health history, diet, lifestyle and genetic factors.
To learn more about your specific nutrient needs and for more about unlocking your genetic potential, check out my Epigenetic Masterclass.