Vitamin D affectionately termed “the sunshine vitamin” and has also been called “the nutrient of the century” with all of its powerful healing properties… and rightfully so. Sunlight and vitamin D are critical to all life forms.
The U.S. RDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamin D is 600 IU per day. In contrast, both the Weston A. Price Foundation and Dr. Mercola recommend around 5,000 IU per day.
While public opinion, which tends to be based on fear by what the media reports, is that the sun causes or at least contributes to cancer, however, there is an overwhelming amount of proof to the contrary. Throughout much of human history, natures way for us to get our vitamin D was from the sunlight and from consuming traditional foods. It historically has been and is an important factor in health and wellness.
Why Vitamin D is important
Forty-two percent of Americans are vitamin D deficient, according to a recent study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Vitamin D is one of those essential nutrients that while so many have been shown to be deficient in, it is, however, the one nutrient that can singlehandedly help support the body with regards to major diseases such as cancers and heart disease.
Vitamin D deficiency signs and symptoms
- Colds/Flu and other infections
- Muscle weakness
- Psoriasis and other skin issues
- Chronic kidney concerns
- Gum disease
- Heart disease
Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons
- You don’t consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This is likely if you follow a strict vegetarian diet, because most of the natural sources of D are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, raw milk, beef liver, and other organ meats. Also, you could be deficient if you eat a processed food diet. You can help correct this imbalance by optimizing your diet with real food.
- Your exposure to sunlight is limited, which can be common if you are indoors most of the time. Because the body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, you may be at risk of deficiency if you live in northern latitudes, are homebound, wear long robes or head coverings for religious reasons, or have an occupation that prevents sun exposure.
- You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin’s ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. As people age, we tend to see toxin accumulation, therefore many times the kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency.
- Your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Certain medical problems, including Crohn’s disease, IBS, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease, can affect your intestine’s ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat. These imbalances can be corrected nutritionally.
- You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater tend to have low blood levels of vitamin D.
Best Sources of naturally occurring Vitamin D
The Sun: Safe sun exposure is essential for optimal health. Vitamin D3 is an oil soluble steroid hormone that forms when your skin is exposed to UVB radiation from the sun. When UVB strikes the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative into vitamin D3. It takes up to 48 hours for this vitamin D3 to be absorbed into your bloodstream to elevate your vitamin D levels.
I recommend spending a safe amount of time in the sun and eat an optimal real food diet high in saturated fats and proteins with little to no grains to help prevent burning. Cover up with light clothing or use an organic safe sunscreen (available on Amazon) if in the sun for long periods to help prevent any sunburns.
In case you do develop a sunburn, immediately apply raw aloe vera and eat good quality fats, this will help accelerate skin healing.
Not only do most sunblocks contain toxic chemicals that have been shown to contribute to skin cancers, but sunscreen blocks all the UVB light from entering the skin and thus cause no Vitamin D to be produced. Our bodies have evolved for millions of years under those conditions so it’s no wonder that drastic changes affect us, including SAD, seasonal affective disorder.
Pastured Lard: Pastured (not factory farmed) pigs store tons of vitamin D in their fat. They must have enough exposure to the sunlight, just like humans, in order for the body to produce adequate levels of vitamin D in their fat. Therefore the pigs must be outside absorbing sunlight to utilize the nutrients.
Cold Water-Oily Fish: Oily cold water fish contain a potent amount of naturally occurring vitamin D. A 2-oz portion of sardines provide approximately 152 IU vitamin D. Herring is an excellent source of vitamin D with one 2-oz portion providing approximately 288 IU vitamin D. 2 ounces of mackerel sashimi will provide approximately 200 IU of vitamin D.
Cod Liver Oil: Cod liver oil contains excellent natural sources of vitamin D and A. 1 teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil contains a whopping 1940 IU of vitamin D.
Pastured Egg Yolk: New test results show that pastured egg producers are far superior versus commercial industry when it comes to vitamin D! Eggs from hens raised on pasture show 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs.
Oysters: Oysters pack nutritional rocket fuel consisting of 269 IU vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, and iron.
Caviar: Caviar is a common ingredient in sushi, so load up if you can. Caviar provides 232 IU of vitamin D per 100-gram serving, or 37.1 IU per teaspoon.
The healing power of naturally occurring Vitamin D
Making sure you have adequate levels of naturally occurring vitamin D is mood balancing and is a mood booster! The sun and all the other natural ways to get your D will help rebalance the body and mind. My clients have reported feeling great improvement from depression, anxiety, SAD -seasonal affective disorder and just all around feeling more centered. Other reports with adding adequate amounts of natural D are; kidney balance, support for arthritis, support for asthma, healing of the skin, support for dental/gum and teeth issues and boosted immune system.
More things to think about to optimize D levels
- Proper levels of vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. Making sure you have the proper pH in your stomach to absorb minerals is also important. Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods and you can also take a good quality calcium supplement if you are deficient.
- Make sure you are getting plenty of Magnesium. Mg deficiency can lead to a D deficiency. (The Mg and trace minerals I take and love are available on Amazon)
- Focus on fats and protein.
- Ditch the grains, they are pro-inflammatory.
- Get your sun exposure slowly and work up. You want to avoid burning. Most report when switching to a full fat and protein diet without grains, their tolerance to the sun and tanning improves greatly. This has happened to me!
Following in our ancestor’s footsteps is a healthful idea, by spending a safe amount of time in the sun and eating a traditional diet to help optimize all vitamin and mineral levels in the body including the healing power of D.