We often recommend to our clients, friends or relatives to perform a simple test sampling in order to control the levels of vitamin D, of which everyone is lacking. In the majority of cases, the physician will have a negative attitude about it and will tell you that:

  • the blood sample is useless because you certainly have enough;
  • Vitamin D is toxic and causes kidney stones;

If everything goes well and you will be able to get the tests, it will come out that you will have a value (if you are lucky) between 20 and 40 ng / dl, value absolutely good according to your physician.

If the value is below 20 ng / dl, they will advise you to take a 15-minute walk in the wood exposing your face and hands to the sun and perhaps just miraculously prescribing a vitamin D3 supplement or colecalciferol of which the doses will be ridiculous (around 25,000 IU per month).

Despite an increasing number of scientific studies demonstrating the safety and efficacy of vitamin D, especially if prescribed in high doses, the reason why this negative and refractory attitude towards this molecule is not well understood is because of one of the following reasons:

  • the supplementation protocols and the reference values are not updated;
  • Vitamin D3 supplements are low-cost products which make real miracles and here we get into the “conflict of interest” theme, of which I do not want to talk about too much.

We make this premise to show you that everything that has ever been said on the account of this vitamin / hormone is not correct.

WHAT IS VITAMIN D?

Vitamin D is a vitamin group of 5 prohormones, called D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5, having as their main common feature the ability to be liposoluble and to activate themselves in the sunlight. Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol is the most active form and its activation occurs in the liver and in the kidneys from vitamin D being introduced both with foods and produced in the skin via sun exposure.

The most important function of vitamin D is to promote calcium accumulation in the bones. It also allows the absorption of calcium at the intestinal tract and the reabsorption of calcium and phosphorus by the kidneys.

Vitamin D has always been an integral part of our evolutionary history that began in the heart of Africa, naked and raw under the burning sun of savannah. We have always been exposed to the sun and if what is said about vitamin D toxicity would be true, today the homo sapiens would not exist and we would all have been extinct several hundred thousand years ago.

We were born of a black race precisely because of that: dark skin pigmentation is basically an adaptation in order to protect us from ultraviolet rays.

When we started to migrate from Africa to the discovery of the world, our skin gradually depigmented.

The white race was born precisely because living at higher latitudes, where the sun’s rays are less intense and the sunshine fewer than the equator, our skin needed less UV protection to take full advantage of the few hours of light in order to continue to produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.

We have evolved along with vitamin D and sun that have always determined the proper functioning of our physiology.

WHY IS VITAMIN D SO IMPORTANT?

It is called a vitamin but actually it is a hormone that controls over 3% of our DNA and is responsible for the proper functioning of certain areas of the brain, the immune system, the pancreas, the thyroid, the hematopoietic cells (stem cells that give origin to all blood cells).

Have you ever wondered why winter is the season of colds and influences? As luck would have it, in winter we are less exposed to the sun and as a result our vitamin D levels collapse, weakening our immune system and making us more vulnerable to virus attacks.

Furthermore, it controls the growth and differentiation of bone marrow cells, inhibits the growth of various tumor cells. Vitamin D plays an important role in the transport of calcium and protein biosynthesis in muscles by increasing muscle strength.  controlling the differentiation and maturation of cartilage tissue after bone fractures.

Practically every cell in the human body has vitamin D receptors that are real antennas capturing blood levels, and therefore adjusting the activity of over 1000 DNA genes.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN HIGH LEVELS OF VITAMIN D IN YOUR BLOODSTREAM BY TAKING DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS? 

Now you may wonder, but why do we have to take supplements? In fact, it wouldn’t be necessary if at least 2 hours a day, even in winter, we could stay naked in the sun. How many of you do this? Nobody, with the result that we are all lacking.

The cause is our lifestyle, which forces us to stay inside four walls most of the time. And when we go out in the sun we are always covered by clothes. Two weeks a year at the seaside, in the sun? It’s not enough. That’s why supplements are essential when it comes to vitamin D. 

Several studies have shown that vitamin D protects against cancer through its anti-proliferative effects and regulation of apoptosis, programmed cell death [1].

According to researchers, raising plasma levels of vitamin D above 40 ng / dl would result in a reduction of more than 107,000 cancer cases each year only in the US and Canada [2]. Recent studies have shown that sufficient doses of vitamin D reduce the risk of incidence of all types of cancer by 77% [3].

In addition to its anti-cancer effects, it is well known that vitamin D prevents osteoporosis by promoting calcium accumulation in the bones and several studies demonstrate that vitamin D, which is responsible for the immune system control, is also a great strategy for the healing and prevention of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis [4, 5] type 1 diabetes [6] and thyroid-related illnesses such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis [7].

Additionally, the assumption that vitamin D favors calcium absorption and therefore the formation of kidney stones is incorrect. In practice, the opposite is true because sufficient levels of vitamin D direct calcium to the bone tissue where its natural place should be and not in the arteries. If we then also integrate vitamin K2, the flow of calcium to the bone tissue is amplified [8].

The arteries would be decalcified and would become more elastic and therefore avoiding atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Consequently, reducing the amount of calcium in the blood would regulate the secretion of calcitonin and parathormone secretion by parathyroid glands through feedback mechanisms by restoring its roper function. [9, 10]

A deficiency of vitamin D is positively correlated with depression phenomena. Several studies have shown that supplementation of vitamin D or just regular exposure to sunlight significantly reduces depression symptoms [11, 12].

According to a recent meta-analysis, Alzheimer’s disease patients have low vitamin D blood levels [13]. Supplementation could help prevent dementia and improve the symptoms.

Furthermore, it is no coincidence that there is a north-south gradient of the incidence of cancer, depression, osteoporosis, and related hip and femoral fractures. Analyzing the cases it is discovered that near the equator there is a much smaller prevalence of these complications than the high latitudes.

Finally, overweight people suffer most from vitamin D deficiency, which seems to favor the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.

LATEST CURIOSITY

Do you have dark skin? People with dark skin, especially Africans and Afro-Americans, are more likely to suffer from vitamin D deficiency especially when migrating to high latitudes. As mentioned before, vitamin D is produced through exposure to the sun, dark skin works as a sunscreen, so dark skin people need to be exposed to the sun 10 times more than others in order to produce the same amount of vitamin D. So if you live in the north where the sun does not shine and you have dark skin, you must definitely take vitamin D3 supplements for your entire life.

Average complexion people, exposing about 70% of the body to the sun at middle latitude produces in about 2 hours about 10,000 IU of vitamin D, a dose that according to 90% of physicians is equivalent to toxicity. In theory we should all be intoxicated after a day at the pool or at the sea. Meditate.

Vitamin D deficiency is a sneaky condition because it is asymptomatic. That is why even if you do not show any symptoms you are almost certainly lacking and I always recommend to perform a blood sample twice at least twice a year. However, when you start to feel pain in the bones and joints, muscle pain, chronic fatigue, loss of mental lucidity, and bone or dental fractures means that your levels of vitamin D are close to zero.

CONCLUSIONS

Vitamin D is life and well being that accompanies us from the origin of our evolution. It is not at all toxic unless taken in doses that exceed 50,000 IUs for several months, as previously said to be impossible to obtain, so be calm.

Vitamin D does not cause kidney stones but rather decalcifies the arteries if their blood levels are adequate. If your doctor recommends you for 500 IU per day you should know better that you are wasting money and time.

The ideal doses are around 10,000 IU per day along with 1,000 mcg of vitamin K2 in MK-7 form. Optimal circulating levels range from 70 to 80 ng/dl for adults and 80 to 100 ng/dl for athletes. If you are reading this article and you are below these levels, do not hesitate to contact us.

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REFERENCES

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2. Vitamin D for Cancer Prevention: Global Perspective - Annals of Epidemiology, su www.annalsofepidemiology.org. URL consultato il 12 dicembre 2015.
3. Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP., Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial., in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
4. P. Goldberg, M.C. Fleming, E.H. Picard, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: DECREASED RELAPSE RATE THROUGH DIETARY SUPPLEMENTATION WITH CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM AND VITAMIN D, 1986.
5. Brooke Rhead, Maria Bäärnhielm e Milena Gianfrancesco, Mendelian randomization shows a causal effect of low vitamin D on multiple sclerosis risk, in Neurology. Genetics, vol. 2, nº 5, 1° ottobre 2016, pp. e97,
6. Holick MF, Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis., in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

7. Dohee Kim. The Role of Vitamin D in Thyroid Diseases. . 2017 Sep; 18(9): 1949.

8. Katarzyna Maresz, PhD. Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Feb; 14(1): 34–39.
9. Girón-Prieto MS, et al. Analysis of vitamin D deficiency in calcium stone-forming patients. Int Urol Nephrol. 2016 Apr 19. [Epub ahead of print]
10. Ticinesi A, et al. Idiopathic Calcium Nephrolithiasis and Hypovitaminosis D: A Case-control Study. Urology. 2016 Jan;87:40-5.
11. Anglin RE, Samaan Z, Walter SD, McDonald SD., Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis., in Br J Psychiatry.
12. Mozaffari-Khosravi H, Nabizade L, Yassini-Ardakani SM, Hadinedoushan H, Barzegar K., The effect of 2 different single injections of high dose of vitamin D on improving the depression in depressed patients with vitamin D deficiency: a randomized clinical trial., in J Clin Psychopharmacol.
13. Cedric Annweiler, David J. Llewellyn e Olivier Beauchet, Low serum vitamin D concentrations in Alzheimer’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis, in Journal of Alzheimer’s disease: JAD, vol. 33, nº 3, 1º gennaio 2013, pp. 659–674, DOI:10.3233/JAD-2012-121432. URL consultato il 1º maggio 2016.