Vitamin D

Are we more concerned about getting sunburned than with our Vitamin D status? I want to take another look at Vitamin D and our epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble steroid that is used throughout the body for many processes. Some things are commonly known while other may be new ideas. We take it to help balance calcium that is taken from and stored in the bones. Immune function relies on Vitamin D to keep infection at bay. It is also important in the role of mood, autoimmune disease, obesity and likely most chronic disease. It is also widely used in brain development.

Vitamin D’s last step is an endocrine transfer in the kidney that then goes to over 200 tissues throughout the body that have the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR). So with this mind, we can consider why so many have people have Vitamin D deficiency. Sometimes it is that they are not getting the intake of Vitamin D but what if they are and are just not able to utilize it. Likely about half or the patients with the MTHFR mutation or methylation defect also have a defect in their VDR affecting their body’s ability to suppress the production. Cytochrome P (CYP) in the liver can also activate VDR and deactivate the vitamin D molecule. As you can see there are several challenges to ensuring that Vitamin D is present and accounted for in our simplified version of the biochemistry here alone. Sometimes deficiency can be caused by disease.

However, the deficiency of Vitamin D has become a new problem and only since doctors have been telling parents to keep their kids out of the sun. We smother our kids with sunscreen so they get very little absorption of the sun. This is not a suggestion that we should allow our kids to get sunburned on a long outing in the sun. There is a balance of ensuring that little bodies and their skin learn how to tolerate the sun from an early age in regular doses and therefore less likely to burn as they get older. Save the safe versions of sunscreen for the hours of 11-3, the middle of the day, when you must be in direct sunlight. But really, this isn’t a pertinent part of the Vitamin D deficiency discussion. We can get plenty of daily levels of Vitamin D before we are even close to the sunburn level. It is estimated that you can get a daily dose of Vitamin D in half the time it takes to burn which can range from 15 minutes for those with fair skin or 2 hours for darker skin. Even individuals with a history of skin cancer can increase their anti-oxidant levels in their skin and tolerate moderate sun without increasing their risk factor for skin cancer reoccurrences. Often chemical ingredients in poorly formulated sunscreens can increase risk factors of skin cancer, as can blocking only UV waves. Look for natural ingredients and blocks for UVA and UVB.

The founder for the Vitamin D Council has observed that three epidemics have started since our society has been taught to shelter kids from the sun: asthma, autism, and autoimmune conditions. These are three very concerning conditions on which parents spend many resources in order to survive the complication of the condition. Kids with asthma respond very quickly to natural treatment and often go off inhalers and steroids within the 1st month’s visit to me. Autism is more common in households of higher socioeconomical status and a higher educated mom is more likely to listen to medical persuasion to keep her kids out of the sun. Avoiding the sun really is a new idea for the human race, as is sunscreen.

In countries with normal exposure to the sun, natural vitamin D levels are 46 ng/ml. Preference of blood levels depends on risk factors and present illness, sometimes double is preferred and for other patients, it is lower. In general, this is a good number for the already healthy to strive for. Some studies show that Vitamin D can be washed off the skin within 12 hours with any bathing. Sunbathing is the preferred method of getting Vitamin D; however, you can also get it from supplements and some limited food sources like reindeer meat, seagull eggs, lard, cold water fish, sun dried mushrooms, grass-fed meat, eggs, and milk.

Antibiotics and sun exposure is another concern that I want to address. There are several medications, not just antibiotics, that can cause sun sensitivity and your doctor will warm you to stay out of the sun for 48 hours after taking them. It is wise to avoid the sun when you have no other choice but to take these particular pharmaceuticals.