By Dr. Glenn Wilcox
Vitamin D is one of the most important, essential and effective supplements that you need to take regularly for optimum health! Many experts agree, vitamin D deficiency is likely to be a significant factor in COVID-19 transmission and complications.
The Hormone Vitamin D: Vitamin D is actually more of a hormone than a vitamin. Bioactive vitamin D or calcitriol is a steroid hormone that has long been known and scientifically proven for its important role in regulating body levels of calcium and phosphorus, and in mineralization of bone. It helps prevent rickets and osteoporosis. Vitamin D is actually a hormone that communicates with your other hormones, making it especially essential to help balance hormones. So, getting enough vitamin D2 and D3 may ease or prevent hormonal fluctuations.
Vitamin D Chemistry: Vitamin D a fat-soluble vitamin/hormone that is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced in your skin by a chemical reaction in response to sunlight. This reaction produces cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), and the liver converts it to calcidiol. The kidneys then convert that substance to calcitriol, which is the active form of the hormone in the body.
Foods Providing Vitamin D:
- Fatty fish: salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel and herring
- Cod liver oil
- Portabella mushrooms
- Egg yolks
- Beef liver
Foods fortified with vitamin D: orange juice, soymilk, some dairy products, breakfast cereals
Unlike most other vitamins, vitamin D is found only in a few foods, but not at high enough levels for optimal health. Supplementation is often necessary.
Fun Family Story! I was born in Nova Scotia, as were my mom and dad. Every day my mom gave us children a spoonful of cod liver oil. Yum! When my dad was a boy, he spent a summer with his best friend at Peggy’s Cove, a tiny picturesque fishing village on the wild Atlantic Ocean. The village men were cod fishermen, making their living out on the open seas in small boats. Tough men! Each day they cleaned their catch and tossed the cod livers into a large barrel for use in making cod liver oil. Regularly, the fishermen would pick a raw cod liver out of the barrel and slurp it down. My dad told me he was no longer considered a boy when he got the nerve to slurp down one of those raw cod livers! That is vitamin D at its freshest best, and so much more!
Sunshine: Traditionally we got most of our vitamin D from the action of sunlight on our skin. However, based on the latest evidence, many people living in this country, Canada and northern Europe have levels of vitamin D that are low. For most, the majority of modern life has had the effect of lowering our ability to produce sufficient vitamin D. We spend a lot more time indoors, wear more clothes and use sunscreen. Also, age and obesity reduce the amount of vitamin D we produce. An average 70-year-old can produce only about a quarter of the vitamin D of a 20-year-old. Obese people generally have substantially lower blood levels of vitamin D.
Sunscreen: Sunscreen, if applied adequately to protect against sun-induced skin damage and to reduce the risk of skin cancer, lowers the skin’s ability to form vitamin D by more than 95 percent! Keep in mind that many sunscreens contain active ingredients that studies show are carcinogenic. Consumer beware! Certainly, getting sunburnt is foolish and harmful. However appropriate sun exposure is wise.
Vitamin D Deficiency: Signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can include:
- Calcium absorption and bone maintenance problems – from rickets to osteoporosis
- Mood changes such as depression and anxiety
- Bone pain
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle aches
- Muscle cramps
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Immune function issues
- Neurological health problems
- Chronic disease risks including cancer
Children: There has been a reemergence of hypovitaminosis D (low vitamin D) among infants and toddlers. It is also an issue for all children. An appropriate supervised repletion dose of vitamin D for your children can be an essential, effective and safe way to improve their health and development with a positive impact on later neurologic health, immune function and chronic disease risk.
Vitamin D and Your Immune System: Here’s an example of the positive effects of vitamin D on the immune system. One of my patients was prone to frequent outbreaks of genital herpes type 2 (HSV-2). Blood tests revealed low levels of vitamin D. A regular daily dose of a specific form of vitamin D eliminated those outbreaks for the past three years. What was that form of vitamin D? Read on!
Vitamin D and COVID-19: The hard-scientific studies relating to vitamin D and its importance in COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) infections have not been completed. However, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) notes “Observational data comparing outcomes from various countries report inverse association links between vitamin D levels and the severity of COVID-19 disease and resultant mortality, pointing to a possible effect of vitamin D on the immune response to infection. Specifically, Spain and Italy have high rates of vitamin D deficiency and also some of the highest COVID-19 infection and mortality rates worldwide. Conversely, the Nordic countries have higher vitamin D levels as a result of formal food fortification and also lower rates of COVID-19 infection and mortality.”
Scientists have begun to study if healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give people with COVID-19 a survival advantage by helping them avoid cytokine storm, when the immune system overreacts and attacks your body’s own cells and tissues. Studies are also exploring whether it may prevent COVID-19 or make the infection milder. The early research is not yet peer reviewed. However, most experts agree vitamin D deficiency is likely to be a significant factor in COVID-19 transmission and complications.
Not All Vitamin D is Created Equal: I recommend a product by Biotics Research called Bio-D-Mulsion Forte. Each concentrated drop provides 2,000 IU (50 mcg) of emulsified vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol). My clinical experience has revealed that it works better than any other vitamin D supplement. The reasons are straightforward. It is emulsified so it is absorbed and assimilated better than any other form. Not all emulsifications are created equal. I’ll be candid. Biotics Research makes the best quality supplements available. Why? Even though they do not make pharmaceutical drugs, they have a pharmaceutical manufacturing license. Therefore, their manufacturing process must meet higher standards. Furthermore, they have a complete testing lab in their manufacturing facility. Every raw material delivered to them is immediately tested for purity and potency. If it is in any way substandard, it is rejected. And, every product they make is tested for purity and potency before it is shipped out. Some companies do partial and incomplete on-site testing. Most rely on third party spot checks. Many problems are missed. Biotics Research also tests products from other manufacturers to evaluate what is being produced in the industry. Those results are disturbing and absolutely reveal that all supplements are not created equal.
I have my patients do blood tests to determine their vitamin D levels. Many have low or borderline low levels. Often, those people are taking a vitamin D supplement, but unfortunately that product has not been effective. When I have them change to Biotics Research Bio-D-Mulsion Forte at the correct dose, their levels rise significantly and quickly to an optimum level. I’m a committed believer in finding the best product and using that appropriately, even if it costs a bit more. Your most valuable asset is good health. Invest wisely!
Vitamin D Pearl – Vitamin A: I always advise my patients to combine vitamin D with vitamin A. The vitamin A synergistically works together with the vitamin D and the combined effect is far beyond that of just taking vitamin D alone. I use Biotics Research Bio-Ae-Mulsion Forte. Each concentrated drop provides 2,500 IU (3,759 mcg RAE) of emulsified vitamin A as Palmitate.
Can I Take Too Much Vitamin D? Yes. Vitamin D is fat soluble and can accumulate in our bodies to toxic levels. It is just as important to not take to much as it is to take enough, and to take a good quality product. Blood tests provide accurate feedback to insure you are in the high normal range, which is where you need to be. Many doctors have been led to believe that a low normal level is just fine. Absolutely not! You want to optimize your levels for best overall health, not meander along barely above the deficient line. Trust me, establishing an optimal, high normal level is where you want to be.
My Invitation: I invite you to discover how to accurately diagnose and improve your vitamin D levels, as well as all other nutritional needs, to wisely optimize your immune system and overall health. Allow me to be your lighthouse.
At Wise Medicine®, we are open and here to help. I will work together with you to guide you to better health. You may consult with me in person or in an online virtual visit. I work with patients across the United States and in Canada. Call to schedule an appointment.
505-771-4998 – www.DrGlennWilcox.com