Breakthrough Information You Need to Know About Vitamin D (part 2)

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In recent years vitamin D has emerged as a star of the “vitamin” world. There’s no question about it — vitamin D is garnering more excitement than any other vitamin out there, and deservedly so. Why all the enthusiasm? Read this article by Dr. Mercola to learn why.

Breakthrough Information You Need to Know About Vitamin D (part 2)

Uncovering the Truth about Sun Exposure

For decades now, public health officials have been warning that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun increases your risk of developing melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

But something doesn’t quite add up with this generalized warning, because an epidemic of melanoma has broken out among indoor workers. In fact, indoor workers get three to nine times LESS solar UV exposure than outdoor workers get, yet only indoor workers have increasing rates of melanoma — and the rates have been increasing since before 1940.

So what’s really going on here?

There are two primary types of UV rays from sunlight that you need to be concerned with, the vitamin-D-producing UVB rays, and the skin-damaging UVA light.

Both UVA and UVB can cause tanning and burning, although UVB does so far more rapidly. UVA, however, penetrates your skin more deeply than UVB, and may be a much more important factor in photo aging, wrinkles and skin cancers.

Now a new study has revealed that indoor workers may have increased rates of melanoma because they’re exposed to sunlight through windows, and only UVA light, unlike UVB, can pass through window glass.[xvii]

At the same time, these indoor workers are missing out on exposure to the beneficial UVB rays, and have lower levels of vitamin D. So it’s the combination of exposure to UVA light and lower vitamin D levels that appear to be causing the increased rates of melanoma, and the indoor workers could clearly benefit from spending some time outdoors in the sun.

Sun Exposure Does NOT Increase Skin Cancer Like You Have Been Told
Appropriate sun exposure actually helps prevent skin cancer. In fact, melanoma occurrence has been found to decrease with greater sun exposure, and can be increased by using sunscreens.

For instance, one study discovered that melanoma patients with higher levels of sun exposure were less likely to die than other melanoma patients, and patients who already had melanoma and got a lot of sun exposure were prone to a less aggressive tumor type.[xviii]

Why is this?

Nature has devised a very clever strategy to keep the sun from damaging your skin.

It is important to realize that the sun can increase genetic damage in your skin and cause skin cancer, especially if you get regularly sunburned.

But what the media and many health “experts” fail to appreciate and explain to the public is that regular and safe exposure to sunlight or safe tanning beds allows vitamin D to be formed in your skin. The vitamin D then directly modulates genes in your skin that actually help prevent the types of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes. As Dr. Cannell says:

“Vitamin D is activated directly in your skin and activated vitamin D goes directly to the genes in your skin and helps prevent the type of abnormalities that ultraviolet light causes.”[xix]

So if you avoid the sun entirely, or slather on sun block whenever you go out, your skin will be unable to produce vitamin D, and you’ll be left without this built-in cancer protection.

When is the Best Time to Go Out in the Sun, and for How Long?

The optimal time to be in the sun for vitamin D production is as near to solar noon as possible. That would be between roughly 10:00am and 2:00pm.

During this time you need the shortest exposure time to produce vitamin D because UVB rays are most intense at this time. Plus, when the sun goes down toward the horizon, the UVB is filtered out much more than the dangerous UVA.

When you’re out in the sun, be very careful about the length of your exposure. You only need enough exposure to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink. This may only be a few minutes for some. Exposures any longer than this will not produce any more vitamin D but will accelerate photo aging and increase your risk for non melanoma skin cancers like basal and squamous cell cancers.

Once you reach this point your body will not make any additional vitamin D and any additional exposure will only cause harm and damage to your skin.

Most people with fair skin will produce the maximum amount of vitamin D in just 10-20 minutes, or, again, when your skin starts turning the lightest shade of pink. Some will need less, others more. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you will need to optimize your vitamin D production. African-Americans need perhaps 20 percent more sun exposure time than whites.

And contrary to popular opinion, your body simply cannot make adequate vitamin D from the sun unless you have more skin area exposed than just your face and hands. In fact, at least 40 percent of your body should be uncovered to optimize your vitamin D production.

The Best Source of Vitamin D

As I said earlier, exposing your skin to appropriate sunlight (without sunscreen) is the best way to get vitamin D.

If you’re able to get out in the sun for an adequate time period each day, your vitamin D levels should be naturally optimized.

However, most of us struggle with seasonal vitamin D winters in which we may not be able to get enough sun exposure during certain parts of the year. In that case, I also advise using a safe tanning bed (one that has the harmful emissions shielded) to have your own body produce vitamin D naturally.

A third option is taking a high-quality vitamin D supplement. The most important thing to keep in mind if you opt for oral supplementation is that you only want to supplement with natural vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which is human vitamin D. Do NOT use the synthetic and highly inferior vitamin D2.

Vitamin D Supplements: Choosing the Right Dosage

As I mentioned before, vitamin D supplementation during the winter months, or year-round if you haven’t time or sufficient access to the sun or safe tanning beds, is a wise idea.

Current studies, like the ones I’ve described in earlier sections, show many deficiencies of vitamin D existing in the general population. Because of this, you could require anywhere from 2,000 IU to even 10,000 IU of vitamin D daily for optimal health,[xx] certainly well above the current RDA.

For example, researchers like Bruce Hollis believe the current RDA top level of 2,000 IU for vitamin D is far too low. Dr. Hollis has been giving pregnant women 4,000 IU a day, and nursing women 6,000 IU, with no adverse effects.[xxi]

All pregnant women should be on a minimum of 5,000 units a day, and many pregnant women will need 10,000 units a day.[xxii] Every woman who is breastfeeding should also take 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D a day. Then your breast milk will be a rich source of vitamin D, and you won’t have to worry about your baby not getting enough.

If you’re taking vitamin D in supplement form, body weight is the strongest determinant of how much vitamin D you will need.

A very small person might take 5,000 IU a day, but a 300-pound person may need 10,000 IU a day.

Children need 1,000 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight. But even then, it’s not enough to get a lot of children up to healthy levels. Some mothers of autistic children have to give 5,000 IU a day to a 30-pound autistic child, just to get their levels to a healthy point (the way to know for sure whether or not you’re in the healthy range is through blood testing, which I’ll detail in a later section).

However, the average, non-pregnant, non-lactating adult who does not get regular, adequate sun exposure should be on a regimen of vitamin D3 supplementation in the range of 4,000-5,000 IUs daily.[xxiii]

While overdosing on vitamin D from sun exposure is highly unlikely as your body has a built-in “failsafe” feedback loop, which will tend to shut down production when your levels are healthy, it IS possible to overdose when taking supplements.

So, be very careful when using oral vitamin D therapy and make certain you have your blood levels checked. Many of you may choose to ignore this warning, but I am telling you in no uncertain terms that while vitamin D has enormous potential for improving your health, it has significant potential to worsen it, if you use it improperly (such as taking high doses without getting your blood levels checked or being monitored by a trained health care professional).

What Vitamin D Level do You Need to Stay Healthy?

The OPTIMAL value of vitamin D that you’re looking for has recently been raised to 50-65 ng/ml, with even higher recommended levels required for more serious disease prevention, as shown in the graphic below.

Vitamin D Levels – 25 Hydroxy D

Deficient = <50 ng/ml

Optimal = 50-60 ng/ml

Cancer = 65-90 ng/ml

Excess = >100 ng/ml

How do you know if your levels fall into this range?

You need to have your blood levels tested, but not just any test — or any lab — will do.

Get Your Vitamin D Tested BUT Order the Right Test

The only way to know for certain if you have a healthy vitamin D level is to have a blood test. This really isn’t necessary if you are a lifeguard in Hawaii since the constant sun exposure provides them with nearly perfect vitamin D levels. Since few of us have this job nearly all of us would benefit from the test.

When you get your vitamin D test, make sure your doctor orders the correct one. Probably as many as 20-25% of doctors in the United States order the wrong vitamin D test.[xxiv]

There are two tests you can get, but only one will test the correct levels of vitamin D in your blood.

The correct test to get is 25 hydroxy vitamin D. This is the best marker for your overall vitamin D status. The other test has a similar name (1-25 dihydroxy vitamin D), so make sure this is the one you are getting.

Aside from ordering the correct test, you also need to be certain your test is performed at a lab like Labcorp, that uses the gold standard Diasorin test for checking vitamin D levels. Due to information published by the New York Times about Quest labs, where they admitted to inaccurate results, I no longer recommend using them.

For an in-depth explanation of what you MUST know before you get tested, please read my updated article online, Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency. [xxv]

Vitamin D Toxicity … and Who Should AVOID Vitamin D

You should always stay away from vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which is found in fortified foods and some supplements. D2, found in plants and made active by irradiation, is less biologically active and has been shown to be toxic at the higher dose ranges.

There are additional reasons why vitamin D2 has a greater potential for harm than vitamin D3. First, vitamin D binding protein has a weaker affinity for the vitamin D2 metabolites than vitamin D3. Second, unique, biologically active metabolites are produced in your body from vitamin D2, but there are no analogous metabolites derived from vitamin D3.

Even when you are taking the recommended vitamin D3, there is still a risk of overdosing. The major danger here is that there are no symptoms, just like most with high blood pressure; you frequently don’t have symptoms until it is too late.

Once you overdose on vitamin D, there is no simple way to treat it other than time, and complete avoidance of vitamin D.

Another danger of overdosing on vitamin D is that it will cause nearly similar complications as under dosing. An overdose of oral vitamin D can cause a number of serious problems, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Kidney failure
  • Calcification of the arteries

It may take many months to normalize your vitamin D from elevated levels due to taking ORAL vitamin D. This simply does not happen when you use the sun as a source of vitamin D.

So, again, if you don’t get regular access to sunshine or a safe tanning bed, go ahead and supplement with vitamin D3 — but make sure you monitor your levels!

There are also a few rare groups of people who should avoid vitamin D orally, even vitamin D3, as well as, in some cases, exposure to the sun. This is because of various medical conditions that may be made worse by vitamin D intake. These people, luckily, are in the vast minority.

If you have sarcoidosis, tuberculosis or lymphoma, it would be best to avoid vitamin D supplementation.[xxvi] It is recommended that you perform a test before you supplement with any sun exposure or oral vitamin D, using the 1,25(OH)D test, as it is a better indicator in people with these health challenges.

I hope you can see now some of the many benefits of vitamin D, and why it is so critical to make sure you and your family maintain healthy levels of this vitamin at all times.

Please take this opportunity to use one — or more — of the options I’ve suggested for getting your daily dose of vitamin D. Optimal vitamin D, however you get it, can literally make the difference between a lifetime of chronic disease and one brimming with vibrant health and vitality.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 2nd, 2024 at 12:59 pm and is filed under Articles, Research.

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