Vitamin D is actually a hormone like chemical substance. Though it’s role in maintaining the health and growth of bones is well known, it is also vital to metabolic functions that directly affect the heart, nervous system and the eyes. It has been shown to be protective of the breast and prostate and overall immune system. This “sunshine vitamin” is obtained from the ultra-violet rays of the sun, as D3 (cholecalcifirol). Interestingly, this D3 is also found in fish liver oil. Since it is rather unlikely that in this area of the world, and with our rather well dressed customs, get enough D3 from the sun, it would be well advised for all of us to supplement our diets with vitamin D3.
Severe deficiencies of vitamin D do exist on a wide scale. Though doctors do not see as much rickets in small children anymore, recent reports of chronic muscle pain, muscular weakness, dental problems, osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones) may be due to low blood levels of D3. As far back as 1964 The Journal of the American Medical Association reported cases of common nutritional deficiency of vitamin D diseases were being missed. It is believed that our need for D3 is even greater now. Especially in the cold and gloomier days of winter, “aching bones” possibly mistakenly diagnosed as arthritis or rheumatism, , might very well be osteomalacia (low vitamin D resulting in poor assimilation of calcium).
The fact that vitamin D plays an indispensable role to both deposit and withdrawal of calcium gives this vitamin a much more important role than formerly recognized because, besides being necessary to bones, teeth and nerves, calcium is absolutely essential to every beat of the heart. If the calcium levels become low, the heart will flutter or fibrillate. Vitamin D must be on the job before this calcium can be withdrawn from the bones to come to the aid of your heart. Low D – low calcium – weakened heartbeat, irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).
Though dermatologists have warned against sun exposure due to the risks of skin cancer, this has resulted in a further decrease in D3 levels. Since vitamin D helps prevent other cancers holistic doctors recommend 10-15 minutes of daily summer sun on exposed skin without sun-sceeen, as long as there is no burning. In addition people should supplement with D3 all year round. The amounts used should be based on baseline serum levels of 25(OH)D. This blood test is the best indicator of vitamin D in the body. Testing for 1-25(OH)D is not recommended because when vitamin D levels fall, the kidneys compensate by increasing the 1-25(OH)D and it can even become elevated.
Vitamin D levels should be maintained at 50-60 ng/ml. Clinical evidence now shows that we need much more than the 400 IU found in most multi-vitamins. I take and recommend to my patients an additional 1000 to 2000 IU daily. For patients with less than 20ng/ml even 5000 IU or more are vital to bring the levels to a normal range.
Toxicity is simply not a concern under 10,000 IU per day. D3, cholecalcifirol, is more potent and bio-available than D2.