VITAMIN D — Everything you need to know: Dosage, Benefits and How to Supplement

VITAMIN D AND OUR HEALTH

EVIDENCE THAT VITAMIN D INFLUENCES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

  1. Seasonality of viruses:
    The main source of vitamin D is the sun’s UV radiation, and because it varies in intensity throughout the seasons and at different geographic locations, we see that vitamin D deficiency is common during the winter months (Oct — Mar) in northern latitudes 20 degrees above and (Apr — Sep) in the southern hemisphere 20 degrees below the equator. With this, we see that coronaviruses and influenza viruses show a strong seasonality with high rates and appearances in the winter months.
  2. A well-known study showed that children who were exposed to UV light had a 2x lower incidence of upper respiratory tract infections, the flu and sore throat compared to children who were non-exposed.
  3. We see a difference in influenza virus rates in rural vs urban areas, with rural people having lower infection rates and higher vitamin D levels — due to working and spending more time outside, compared to city dwellers who spend most of their time indoors.
  4. As mentioned above, there is a profound preventative effect of vitamin D supplementation bacterial and viral chest infections. A low vitamin D status is associated with a greater URTI incidence. This is because vitamin D increases immunity and decreases inflammatory responses, lowering the risk of infection.

SUPPLEMENTING WITH VITAMIN D3

  • Sun exposure
  • Food Sources
  • Supplements

KNOW YOUR LEVELS

VITAMIN D FROM THE SUN

VITAMIN D FROM FOOD

FACTORS LEADING TO LOWER VITAMIN D LEVELS

  • African American → Darker skin means a higher amount of melanin in the skin — a protein that protects us from the sun’s UV radiation. It is hypothesised that humans adapted as they migrated north to less sunny regions by getting whiter skin, so that more vitamin D could be produced in the skin. Having darker skin is protective against too much sun exposure near the equator (at least before urbanization).
  • Obesity → Research shows that the more obese a person is, the lower their vitamin D levels will be.
  • Elderly → As we age, rates of vitamin D deficiencies are higher.
  • Sun protection → Concerns about skin cancer have prompted people to wear sunscreen and protective clothing in the sun, which limits sun exposure and vitamin D production significantly.
  • Season & latitude → The angle of the sun in the winter prevents people in the northern hemisphere from producing enough vitamin D. In the countries north of 35°N, no vitamin D is produced during the winter months. Smog/pollution and cloud cover also significantly reduce UV radiation.
  • Outdoor behavior → There is an ongoing trend towards less outdoor activities, either for work or preferred leisure activities, increasing our susceptibility to vitamin D deficiency.

SUPPLEMENTING WITH VITAMIN D

VITAMIN D AND VITAMIN K WORK AS A TEAM

THE ROLE OF VITAMIN D

  • Enhancing absorption of calcium from the food we eat in the gut.
  • Releasing calcium from the body’s ‘calcium stores’ — our bones, when we don’t have enough calcium in our diet.

THE ROLE OF VITAMIN K

  • Promotes calcification (the buildup of calcium) of bone — which means it ensures that the calcium goes to the right places like bones and teeth.
  • Reduces calcification in soft tissues — this means that vitamin K prevents calcium from accumulating in tissues where a build up would be harmful, like our blood vessels and kidneys.

DOSE

  • 400 IU → Infants (0–12 months)
  • 600 IU → Children & Adults (1–70yrs) including breastfeeding and pregnant women
  • 800 IU → Adults (70yrs and older)
    (1mcg = 40IU)

SO, HOW DO YOU GET MORE VITAMIN D?

  1. Sensible sun exposure:
    Getting at least 15 minutes of sunlight between 10am and 3pm can produce 3000IU naturally. Don’t wear sunscreen, sunglasses or other protective gear for the 15 minutes.
  2. Supplement daily:
    Consider a vitamin D supplement remembering to combine it with vitamin K2 (MK7 form) and a fat source.
  • Get at least 15 minutes of sunlight each day
  • Don’t use sunscreen all the time
  • Supplement with Vitamin D3 (and K2)
  • Opt for daily or weekly doses instead of monthly

VITAMIN D AND RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS

  • We know that respiratory diseases are a major cause of death globally and account for 10% of emergency department cases!
  • Infection with the coronavirus is associated with a respiratory condition, specifically ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome).

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Shawn Wells

Shawn Wells

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Ingredient Scientist. Biochemist, Dietitian & Formulator. Beat Depression, Obesity & Brain Tumor. Transforming Health via Food & Supplements.