Vitamins and Minerals

Part 2- Vitamin D supplementation: D2 or D3?

We have seen in part 1 of this article that people living in northern countries need to supplement in vitamin D in the winter months. But which supplement: vitamin D2 or D3? Read on to find out.

Vitamin D needs

New research says we need about 1000 IUs of vitamin D daily compared to the previous recommended 400 IUs. According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a doctor that I highly respect, optimal level in body should be between 35-50ng/ml (nanograms/milliliter). When measured in nanomoles/liter the range is 87/125 nmol/L. Higher than that and your health is at risk.

Food sources

It is unlikely to consume enough D from food alone. Only about 10% of vitamin D supply comes from an omnivorous diet. A vegan diet contains little, if any, unless D-fortified foods, such as orange juice, are consumed. A cup of D-fortified milk has about 115 IUs. The best sources are fatty fish (e.g. cod liver oil, mackerel, tuna, sardines and salmon, eggs (if chickens have been fed vitamin D) and butter in summer months.  Some food manufacturers have recently been treating mushrooms to UVB rays. This has been found to produce reliable source of vitamin D2 in the mushrooms although it cannot be count on unless you can secure a constant supply in your area.

Vitamin D supplementation

The only two reliable sources of vitamin D are the sun and supplements. Supplementation is required in winter months, as stated previously, although individuals can differ greatly on vitamin D needs. The supplemented dose is best determined by blood test. Blood test measures your vitamin D level is the 25-hydroxyvitamin. Blood test would differ in the summer than in the winter months.

Many authorities agree that to maintain ideal status we need to supplement with 1,000-2000 IU daily. Too much vitamin D supplement and we risk calcification of tissues, arteries and joints. When vitamin D is low then higher doses are required until adequate level is reached.

Vitamin D2 versus D3

If you don’t already know, there are two versions of vitamin D supplementation: vitamin D2 comes from plant sources and vitamin D3 comes from animal sources – sheep wool in fact. Vitamin D2 – ergocalciferol – is manufactured by the UV irradiation of ergosterol – a sterol found in fungi and yeast, and vitamin D3-cholecalciferol – is manufactured by the irradiation of 7-dehydrocholesterol from lanolin in sheep’s wool and the chemical conversion of cholesterol.

D3 is the
form produced by the human body when skin makes contact with direct sunlight.

Strict vegans prefer the non-animal derived D2 as opposition to D3. Since the 1930s, vitamin D2 has been considered to be equally as effective as vitamin D3 for bone health. However recently, it was suggested that vitamin D2 was less effective than vitamin D3 in maintaining serum 25(OH)D levels.

Recent studies although were demonstrating more effectiveness from vitamin D3 supplementation so higher doses of vitamin D2 are recommended to achieve same results. It is estimated that vitamin D2 has only about 60-75% the activity of D3. Not all experts agree on the effectiveness of vitamin D2, optimal D level, and amount of sunshine needed.

The debate continues and we might know more in a near future as further studies are being conducted in the scientific community. In the meantime if you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, the key is testing.

Conclusion: If someone is really low and has serious conditions, like autoimmune disease, then I would recommend higher doses such as 10,000 IUs and retesting every 3 months. Too little might not correct the problem and too much might create vitamin D excess. It’s important to work with a trained practitioner to ensure safety and results.
Best D supplements are in liquid form. It is designed to be licked off any clean surface such as the back of a washed hand or a spoon.

© 2012 Guylaine Lacerte
Want to use this article on your website or ezine? You may, as long as you leave all the links intact, do not edit the article, and include the following: Guylaine Lacerte is a Raw Food and Detox Expert, Nutrition Coach and Professional Counsellor. When doing so, please write © Guylaine Lacerte, 2012. Let people know they can join our mailing list and receive my special report, articles and recipes at  www.vibrantlyhealthyonraw.com.  Thanks and enjoy.

Vitamin D and Your Health – Part 1

Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is one of the most important vitamins for our overall health. Have you noticed how much better you feel in the summer, and how more energy you have, less cold and flu? Psoriasis sufferers even see it disappears in the summer months. One of the reasons, besides fresh air, is that you are getting more sunshine in the summer. Come winter and we get sicker and depressed without the sunshine. Sun exposure to the skin remains the most natural and most neglected source of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and secosteroid hormone. It is unique in that it is made in the skin as a result of exposure to sun’s rays ultraviolet B (UVB). Without adequate levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3–the active metabolite of vitamin D–in the blood, the body cannot absorb and use the dietary calcium and phosphorous essential to build strong bones and we are more prone to osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Without vitamin D only about 10-15 percent of dietary calcium and about 60 percent of phosphorus is absorbed by the body.

Recent studies have shown extensively that vitamin D has numerous essential roles in the body besides bone health, including modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, reduction of inflammation, regulation of insulin and blood sugar and anti-tumor activity.

Vitamin D is critical to a healthy functioning body because deficiencies are linked to a host of chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, breast and prostate cancer, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression and even a 78 percent increase in all-cause mortality risk. Not too bad for one single vitamin.

Approximately 50% of Americans and Canadians have a level of vitamin D that is extremely low. Pregnant women are at risks of deficiency so are their babies. Working indoors, decreased outdoor activities, and living in northern climate are the major reasons that we may become deficient in vitamin D.

Sun exposure and vitamin D

Sunshine is food. It is our best natural source of vitamin D. Too much sunshine can make your skin age faster but too little makes you die younger.

Humans have originated in Africa where there is an abundance of sunshine all year long. As humans moved in northern latitudes their skins became lighter allowing more ultraviolet radiation to penetrate and create vitamin D. Humans in the tropics evolved dark skin to block the light, protecting their bodies from too much exposure to UV. Melanin is a substance in your skin cells that has the capacity to absorb UV radiation. Melanin is what determines the color of your skin. Large amounts and your skin has a dark color, small amounts and your skin has a light color. This means that you need larger amounts of melanin if you live near the equator than if you live far from it in order to protect you from excessive UV radiation.

Nowadays people move around and we find black skinned people in the north and fair skinned people in the south. Fair skin need five to ten minutes of warm sunshine at noon in summer months to get sufficient dose of vitamin D. Tan or Hispanic people need maybe 15 to 20 minutes and black skin may require six times the sun exposure to make the same vitamin D levels as a very fair-skinned person. Full body sunlight exposure provides 3,000 – 20,000 IU.

The ability to absorb vitamin D varies from person to person. Some individuals make low amounts of vitamin D even through adequate exposure to the sun.

What is interesting is that the sunlight de-metabolizes any excess vitamin D that your body makes, so you could never become vitamin D intoxicated from sun exposure.

Between October and March, it is impossible to produce vitamin D from the sun if you live at latitudes above 37 degrees north or below 37 degrees south of the equator (that is half of USA) as the sun never gets high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to penetrate the atmosphere. This period is often referred to as ‘Vitamin D Winter’. Vitamin D levels in the blood are usually highest in the summer and at their lowest levels during the winter months. Summer is a great time to stock up on the nutrient.

Using sunscreen blocks vitamin D production. For decades the media and conventional medicine created a fear of sunshine as a cause of skin cancer. Therefore, most people either avoided the sun — or smear on sunscreen that blocks the beneficial wavelengths that produce vitamin D in your skin. Overexposure to sunlight may damage your skin and lead eventually to age spots, wrinkles and skin cancer although sensible sun exposure, in moderation, is very important for good health. We should appreciate the sun for its benefits, and not abuse it.

Caution: do not shower with soap 48 hours after sun exposure or you will wash away much of the vitamin D3 that your skin generated. In fact soap is not necessary; just use it underneath your arms and your groin area. Warm water and brush scrubbing gives a good cleanse on the surface of body.

In part 2 we will conclude with vitamin D supplementation, blood test and the difference between vitamin D2 and D3.

© 2012 Guylaine Lacerte

Want to use this article on your website or ezine? You may, as long as you leave all the links intact, do not edit the article, and include the following: Guylaine Lacerte is a Raw Food and Detox Expert, Nutrition Coach and Professional Counsellor. When doing so, please write © Guylaine Lacerte, 2012. Let people know they can join our mailing list and receive my special report, articles and recipes at www.vibrantlyhealthyonraw.com. Thanks and enjoy.