One of the most urgent public health problems is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency across the western world. Unlike obesity, it cannot be easily recognized and there are no obvious early signs or symptoms attributed to it. But rising rates of Vitamin D-linked diseases suggest it is time we looked again at this vital vitamin. In this three-part series we will explore why Vitamin D is integral to our health and how we can boost our levels naturally.
Our understanding of Vitamin D has profoundly changed in recent years; long known to be involved in calcium regulation in the body, we now know it is not a vitamin at all but a powerful hormone made in the skin from sunlight that prevents cancer and auto-immune diseases. Deficiency is widespread due to our increasingly indoor lifestyles and the impact of sunscreens.
Recently, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to some of the most widespread diseases of our time: cancer, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, depression and osteoporosis (Vitamin D is involved with bone formation). Primary sources include:
Exposure to sunlight: Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from sunlight; from UVB radiation of a specific frequency range which varies with latitude and time of year. Staying in the sun (with your skin exposed) for 15 minutes a day is enough to obtain a daily norm of vitamin D3. If you would like to know the best time to step outside to catch a few rays you can keep an eye on the UV intensity in your area at: http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise/uv-index; just type in your zip code!
Certain foods: D3- from animal-derived foods such as grass-fed dairy products, organ meats, oily fish (salmon, tuna) and cod liver oil. D2 is found in low levels in plant foods such as sunflower seeds, mushrooms and certain sprouted seeds. The plant-based options are relatively slim, so you may consider using supplements. Try using a vegan formula, one that is not in a gelatin capsule (if a supplement is put in vegetarian capsules, it will usually state that on the label) and is made from yeast or mushrooms, and make sure it contains D3.
The latest studies have shown that a variety of cells, not just skin cells, have the ability to convert vitamin D into its active form calcitriol for use in that tissue. This ability has been observed in breast, prostate, colon, brain and skin cells which immediately set researchers looking for the role it may play in the fight against cancer. Yes that’s right – Vitamin D is a vital anti-cancer molecule for the body!
Researchers have discovered that Vitamin D may play a role in the prevention of many cancers in two ways: inhibition of tumor cell growth including its network of blood vessels (angiogenesis), and stimulation of programmed cell death (apoptosis).
American researchers have estimated that, in the US, nearly three times as many Americans died from cancers arising due to lack of sunshine-induced vitamin D than died from skin cancer. So, sunshine is good for you – in many ways!
STAY TUNED for the next part in this series where I will talk about the role of Vitamin D in preventing depression, boosting the immune system and what you can do!
Proper remineralization of the body includes getting enough of certain critical nutrients, including Vitamin D. Learn more about natural ways to boost this and other vital minerals in our Remineralize Your Body course.
I am a holistic therapist based in Southampton, UK, using the principles of naturopathic medicine to treat chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue/ME, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance, insomnia and chronic pain. I am a passionate believer in treating the cause of disease not just the symptoms; usually a combination of nutritional deficiency, toxicity and unresolved emotional trauma. I offer a package of treatment which includes nutritional medicine, hypnotherapy, massage and EFT to transform your life. www.alchemytherapies.co.uk. Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org +442380321766, Skype: patricia.worby