To many in the field of alternative healthcare, it is becoming more and more obvious that we are experiencing an epidemic, not of illness, but of deficiency, particularly when it comes to Vitamin D.

Over the last 70 years, extensive research has been done on the negative effects associated with low levels of vitamin D in the body, which include 18 different cancers, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, diabetes, lupus, heart disease, epilepsy and the list goes on and on.

What is truly shocking, however, is that even though vitamin D deficiency is well understood and respected, controversy still exists over what the safe and proper dosage of this incredibly important substance ought to be. Articles written 20 years ago warn of dosages over 1,000 IU per day being toxic and potentially resulting in irreversible damage to the body's health and even go so far as to claim that vitamin D overdoses are potentially fatal! Today, 1000 IU is what you find in a single vitamin D capsule over the counter. It seems that the medical community has continually underestimated the quantity of vitamin D necessary for optimum health.

skeletonVitamin D has been predominantly associated with bone health, in which it is a key component along with magnesium, calcium, and vitamin K in maintaining proper bone density and overall bone health. It was thought, for a time, that too much vitamin D would create too much mineral content in the body and would lead to calcification of the arteries and eventually a heart attack. The likelihood of this occurring is becoming more and more unlikely as new medical research is continually increasing what is considered to be the optimum levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D comes in two different forms, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 comes mostly from plants, specifically nuts, seeds, wheat germ and green leafy vegetables. D3 is found in animals, most abundantly in fatty salt-water fish. D3 is also produced in the skin through exposure to sunlight. D3, before it can be used in the rest of the body, it must first be sent to the kidneys to become activated vitamin D.

Though it may seem to be a simple task to get sufficient vitamin D, by simply sunbathing regularly and eating plenty of fish, but both of these present their own risks, in the extreme case melanoma from excessive sun exposure, and mercury toxicity from fish consumption. This leaves supplementation as the safest method of obtaining sufficient quantities of vitamin D. Of course, one could simply consume fish liver oil endlessly, but I imagine capsules are less stressful for your taste buds. Fortified milk and other products that have had vitamin D added to them typically have marginal amounts and have yet to demonstrate a significant result in improving deficiencies.

Vitamin D deficiency can increase  the  risk of:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Muscoloskeletal Pain
  • Migraines
  • Rickets
  • Psoriasis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • 18 kinds of Cancer including: Breast, Colon, Prostate, Ovarian and Lymphoma

  • Because vitamin D deficiency is so common, and the effects of deficiency potentially serious, it is important to monitor your vitamin D levels and figure out how much vitamin D you need to supplement to get you into the healthy levels. This is accomplished through blood tests that specifically measure the quantity of the activated vitamin D, after it has been processed by the kidneys, called 25(OH)D. Included in this article is a chart showing the benefits of various levels of 25(OH)D. Based on the chart, having over 50 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/ml) dramatically lowers your risk of developing various cancers and other medical conditions like Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis.

    One of the less commonly known benefits of adequate vitamin D is increased resistance to viruses and infections through enhanced immune system support. Vitamin D increases the production of a substance called cathelicidin in natural killer (NK) cells, neutrophils and monocytes. These are the cells of your immune system that attack invading pathogens. Cathelicidin rips holes in the cell walls of harmful invaders, inevitably causing their destruction.

    In laboratory testing, vitamin D proved to be one of the most powerful contributors to cathelicidin production, which in turn increased the body's ability to fight off respiratory infections and it also triggered the production of natural antibiotic compounds locally that can fight wounds and skin infections including psoriasis.

    sunEven more interesting is the correlation between seasonal vitamin D deficiency due to decreased sun exposure during the winter months and the incidence of colds and flu. In fact, "flu season" typically occurs when vitamin D levels in the population are at their lowest, which, by no coincidence, during the time following the winter solstice when the days are at their shortest. Anecdotally, Russian researchers discovered that the incidence of colds and flu could be dramatically reduced in factory workers and school children by exposing them to UVB sunlamps to increase vitamin D production in the skin.

    Researchers Dr. Carol Wagner and Dr. Bruce Hollis of the Medical University of South Carolina performed a randomized clinical trial on the effects of vitamin D on pregnant women. They concluded that 4000 IU per day of vitamin D is safe and effective in reducing the risk of many pregnancy conditions such as pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) and pre-term labor by 50%. 

    By now, you most likely have a clear understanding of the importance of vitamin D, adequate supplementation, and routine blood testing to make sure you are getting enough D in your diet. It goes without saying, however, that vitamin D is not the only nutrient necessary for survival. Vitamin K, specifically K2, taken together with D3 creates a powerful combination that is particularly beneficial in preventing bone loss and cardiovascular disease.

    Historically, vitamin K has been known as the coagulant vitamin, which is why anticoagulant drugs specifically target vitamin K and block its re-absorption.

    The most vitamin K-rich food currently known is natto. Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. A population study conducted on three different female populations in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and British women. The study concluded that the women with the highest consumption of natto had a reduced risk of hip fracture.

    Vitamin K derived from natto is the best source of K2 available on the market today. When taken in conjunction with D3 the greatest benefit can be attained.

    One point of caution, however, all forms of vitamin K can interact with blood thinning medications. Anyone taking, or about to take such medications, should consult with their healthcare practitioner before taking vitamin K supplements.

    A recent success we’ve had here at the center with K and D is a woman in her fifties who was complaining of persistent musculoskeletal aches throughout her body. She had a vitamin D level test and she was found to be very deficient, in the range of 18 ng/ml. She then took 1000 IU per day for four weeks. She was then retested and she was up to 29 ng/ml. A definite improvement, but still very deficient and her aches and symptoms were still present. She then took a K2/D3 supplement with 5000 IU per day for another four weeks. During this time, her aches disappeared entirely and when her test results came back, it showed a vitamin D level over 50ng/ml and back in the healthy range.

    The real key to her result was not the vitamin D, but the testing. Without the testing, she would have not been able to discern the proper dose of vitamin D necessary to relieve her symptoms and return her to the healthy levels. Testing is the key.

    If you look closely at the chart on the next page, you’ll see that having a vitamin D level above 50 ng/ml can do some truly incredible things. For example, having a vitamin D blood level above 50 ng/ml can reduce your risk of breast cancer (if you’re a woman) by up to 83%. That is an enormous improvement! Likewise, your risk of other conditions is greatly reduced as well. Without testing, though, it is impossible to know if you have reached the proper levels and are getting any of these protections, or if instead your risk of these conditions is greater because of a vitamin D deficiency. So be safe, get tested and get protected.