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Vitamin D- Are You Getting Enough?
Wellness Mama

Vitamin D seems to be getting some positive publicity lately, but the tide of public opinion is yet to shif t on the importance of sunlight in this equation. While scientists debate the topic, perhaps a conclusion can be reached with some good old-f ashioned logic. A quick stroll around any Walgreens shows the trend these days to lather sunscreen each day to protect against damage f rom the sun. Sunscreen under your make-up, sunscreen in your make-up, sunscreen f or baby, sunscreen f or those who are sweating, sunscreen with added tanner, the list goes on. T his would all be well and good, except it isn’t working! Our overuse of sunscreen hasn’t stopped skin cancer at all, it is actually increasing! On top of that, people are getting the most dangerous types of skin cancer in places the sun never even touches. Something here just doesn’t add up… First, let’s break down what role the sun plays in our biochemistry, and why it is important in the f irst place. Organisms like plants and algae use sunlight f or photosynthesis to create oxygen and other important byproducts. Sunlight doesn’t work quite the same way f or us, but is still just as important. When we are exposed to ultraviolet B light f rom the sun or artif icial sources, vitamin D3, or cholecalcif erol is created photochemically in our skin. Food sources like f atty f ish, eggs, and meat also provide D3. However Vitamin D enters the body, it is then transported through the bloodstream to the liver where it is converted into the prohormone calcidiol. Calcidiol is then converted by the kidneys or organisms in the immune system into calationol. Calatinol circulates as a hormone and regulates mineral concentration in the blood (including calcium), f unction of the neuromuscular and immune systems and gene prolif eration (this is the reason f or the link between Vitamin D def iciency and Cancers). Or put more technically (courtesy of wikipedia.com)

“Following the final converting step in the kidney, calcitriol (the physiologically active form of vitamin D) is released into the circulation. By binding to vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP), a

For this reason. People who got the most sun exposure because they lived in hot areas of the world developed excess melanin (a darker skin pigment) to block burning while lighter skinned people could produce Vitamin D (and a sunburn) a lot more quickly.carrier protein in the plasma. people with lighter skin need less sun exposure to get their vitamin D. The vitamin D receptor belongs to the nuclear receptor superfamily of steroid/thyroid hormone receptors. including monocytes and activated T and B cells. and VDRs are expressed in several white blood cells. Vitamin D is a hormonal precursor and science is constantly linking def iciency of Vitamin D to increased incidence of many diseases. while Vitamin D is reality available (at least part of the year in most parts of the world) f or f ree if produced f rom sun exposure. An important one of these is its role as a natural inhibitor of signal transduction by hedgehog (a hormone involved in morphogenesis). which are involved in calcium absorption in the intestine. it ends up in the exact same f orm once it hits the liver (as long as an oral f orm is D3). bone. various alternative mechanisms of action are known. T his system worked really well when in the time when people lived in the same basic area their whole lives. While I would personally suggest getting Vitamin D f rom the sun if possible because of the other benef its of sun exposure.[8] The binding of calcitriol to the VDR allows the VDR to act as a transcription factor that modulates the gene expression of transport proteins (such as TRPV6 and calbindin).[24] Apart from VDR activation. which is principally located in the nuclei of target cells. If sun exposure is not possible . the sun or a supplement? No matter how Vitamin D is obtained. health experts propose that vitamin D def iciency is the most rampant and dangerous vitamin def iciency. T hese days. the most important thing is to just get Vitamin D. but now a light-skinned person like me could go live in Ecuador or a naturally dark skinned person could move to Moscow. including the brain.[25][26]” So what does this mean f or us? In humans. calcitriol is transported to various target organs. and parathyroid gland cells leads to the maintenance of calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood (with the assistance of parathyroid hormone and calcitonin) and to the maintenance of bone content. and VDRs are expressed by cells in most organs. Vitamin D3 can be obtained by adequate sun exposure or by oral supplementation. people are surprisingly def icient in it these days. kidney. What then. is the best way to get this all-important vitamin.[8] Calcitriol mediates its biological effects by binding to the vitamin D receptor (VDR).[23] The VDR is known to be involved in cell proliferation and differentiation. while those with darker skin need much more sun to get the same amount. Ironically. but which is better? For years and years (basically all of human history until the last f ew hundred years) vitamin D was obtained f rom the sun in varied amounts based on proximity to the equator. skin. since most f oods didn’t have any mentionable level of Vitamin D. VDR activation in the intestine. gonads. and breast. Vitamin D also affects the immune system. Vitamin D is much more than just a simple vitamin that we need to hit a target RDA of . prostate. heart. Obtaining Vitamin D f rom f ood wasn’t really a f easible option.

but darker skinned people may need two hours or more! So then. If you are at the beach or on an adventure race. soreness or inf lammation? Cut the grains and hit the beach! Other things to remember: Vitamin D helps calcium absorption. consider a natural sunscreen or a pure zinc oxide f ormula.Vitamin D controls calcium and phosphate levels in the blood and contributes to bone growth and bone strength Your Immune System-Ever heard of those “t-cells” that protect your body against bacteria and disease? Vitamin D is crucial in their creation and f unction. You want to get your 25(OH)D levels tested and aim f or getting them between 50 and 70. though many people who switch to a no-grain no polyunsaturated or hydrogenated oil diet notice a much higher resistance to the sun. and a blood test is the only certain way to tell if you are getting the right dose orally (the body regulates this quite well if you are getting it f rom the sun). then again. it is up to you. wear some clothes. the logical answer once you have gotten your sun exposure f or the day… get out of the sun! Find some shade. Inf lammation. could that be the reason f or the increasing skin cancer rates?).or not f easible. 52 . sunburn). your body will tell you how much you need and when you have enough (hello.Lack of Vitamin D can cause inf lammation in the body. Chemicals in sunscreens are also f ound to create f ree radicals in the body and produce an estrogenic ef f ect (man boobs anyone?). Have joint pain. For light skinned people this may be only 15-30 minutes. ignore the sun and don’t supplement more than the RDA of the big D if you aren’t worried about: Cancer. If you are f ortunate enough to be able to get your vitamin D f rom the sun. T he goal is to get adequate sun and not ever burn.Research is now estimating that 75% of cancers can be prevented by adequate consumption of Vitamin D. but get out of the sun. Def iciency of magnesium can inhibit vitamin D f unction. right? Not so f ast! T he chemicals in sunscreen have been linked to cancer themselves (hmmm. Experts are now estimating that most people need at least 10 times the suggested RDA (400 IU) of Vitamin D to accomplish this. many people will have trouble accepting the f act that sun exposure is so important. so can grain consumption. Of course. Here is more inf ormation about how diet and supplants can af f ect the body’s reaction to the sun and how you can improve your skin tolerance naturally with certain supplements. Calcium Levels. even as study af ter study show the importance of vitamin D. T he amount of Vitamin D a person should take varies by person. lather on the sunscreen. Of course. So how ever do we protect ourselves f rom over-exposure to the sun? Af ter realizing that most people aren’t getting enough to begin with. supplementing orally is necessary. but make sure you are getting the calcium f rom diet or supplements. make sure you get that too! Eat proteins and f ats Don’t eat grains Jump into sun exposure slowly if you aren’t used to it.