First off, Vitamin D is really fits the definition of a hormone more than a vitamin. A hormone is produced in one part of the body and and physiological effects in another part. Vitamin D (Hormone D) has effects in every tissue of the body and should really be thought of in that way. This article was written from a more classical perspective. Some sources recommend something closer to 30,000 to 50,000 IUs of Vitamin D per day. That's a lot of Vitamin D but not that much Hormone D if you know what I mean.
Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin because we actually manufacture this essential vitamin in the skin when it is exposed to sufficient light. For some reason, even people living in sunny climates like San Diego or Hawaii have trouble making enough vitamin D to raise blood levels to healthy levels. It could be that part of the job of vitamin D is to negate the harmful effects of the sun so much of it is used up at the skin itself.
It doesn't bode well for people in more northern climates where the sun isn't as intense either. People in Portland, ME or Portland, OR don't get enough sun as a rule to make enough vitamin D in the first place.
Why does it matter? Low levels of vitamin D have been implicated in several diseases but the effect is most pronounced in breast cancer, colon cancer and autoimmune disorders. What this means is if your blood levels of vitamin D aren't consistently at healthy levels you will have a greater probability of developing these problems.
How does it work? As mentioned in the intro to our chosen Vitamin D products like Pure Encapsulations: Vitamin D3, vitamin D is one of the primary controllers or security guards that decides who gets into the cell and who leaves. When not enough vitamin D is available, these receptors spaces go unoccupied or maybe poorly activated by something with a similar chemical structure.
White blood cells are integral to the immune response. In autoimmune disorders the balance of different groups of T-helper cells and the regulatory T cells becomes skewed and the body now creates antibodies to native tissues such as the thyroid, pancreas, joints for example. Adequate amounts of vitamin D are needed to maintain proper balance in this system.
So how much does a person need? Healthy blood levels are considered to be about 33-80 ng/ml. Less than optimal is defined as 20-32 and very deficient is less than 20. To achieve these levels, most people we work with need somewhere between 1000 to 10,000 IU per day. The majority of our clients are having chronic issues so a healthy person may need less but only a blood test will reveal that. I know that some national health committees have recommended up to 600 IU per day. The article in the New England Journal of Medicine is not that convincing to an experienced practitioner.
Two factors might increase the need for even more supplemental vitamin D. Gluten sensitivity (GS) is fairly common. At least 1% of the American population and we can also estimate that at least Ĺ of people with chronic inflammation are gluten sensitive. GS can interfere with vitamin D uptake.
It is also interesting that some people have vitamin D receptors that are less sensitive than the ideal. These people will also need more supplemental D to drive the receptor activity.
Vitamin D is easy and relatively inexpensive to supplement. It will take a very tiny effort and small cost to keep your vitamin D levels at more appropriate levels for good health.
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