Savers are aware that Vitamin D is important for bone health and immunity. But what you may not know is that this vitamin offers other incredible health benefits.
So today we’re taking a closer look at this amazing vitamin. You’ll discover what few know: Vitamin D has much to offer, from cardiovascular health to improving mood. And we’ll also delve into the important questions of how much and what kind of Vitamin D is best.
Why Is Vitamin D So Important?
Calcium is usually the mineral of choice when it comes to fighting osteoporosis. Unfortunately, this disproportionate focus on calcium has led to the development of some not-so-healthful supplements (such as calcium carbonate) and a neglect of other important bone-building minerals.
Even though it stimulates calcium absorption in the intestine, Vitamin D tends to get overlooked when it comes to bone health. Nonetheless, Vitamin D is instrumental in preventing falls, building immunity, and in regulating calcium and phosphorous during bone remodeling.
Vitamin D also gets overlooked when it comes to other aspects of health. In fact, some of the signs of Vitamin D deficiency go well beyond bones, and include feelings of sadness, high blood pressure, and chronic muscle pain and weakness.
So today we’re going to put Vitamin D in the spotlight…or rather, the sunlight!
How Does The Body Process Vitamin D From Sunlight?
Your liver manufactures a form of cholesterol called 7-dehydrocholestrerol, which acts as a precursor to Vitamin D (another reason that a healthy liver is essential for bone health!). this precursor resides in the skin, and when your skin is exposed to the UV (ultraviolet) rays in sunlight, the precursor is converted into cholecalciferol.
We’re still not there. Cholecalciferol is a “previtamin” form of Vitamin D. It travels to your liver, where it is metabolized into hydroxyvitamin D. Then the kidneys kick in and convert it into Vitamin D3, the hormone form of the vitamin that your body can use.
It’s quite an amazing process!
Now that we’ve looked at the details of Vitamin D formation, let’s get to the 3 little-known benefits of this hormone-vitamin.
1. Together With Calcium, Vitamin D Lowers Cholesterol
This could convince just about anyone that statins, the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs, are not necessary at all. Savers surely know that statins have a long list of known awful side effects, including increasing the risk of developing type II diabetes by almost 50%.
They actually block the same enzymatic pathway as bisphosphonates, which begs the question of whether or not bisphosphonates also increase diabetes risk. Thankfully, there is a much better cholesterol-management option, and a recent study further confirms this.
When a group of post-menopausal women who took 1000mg of calcium and 400IU of Vitamin D3 daily, they were found to have higher Vitamin D levels in general and lower levels of LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, than those women who took a placebo.1
Clearly, getting plenty of Vitamin D3 is beneficial to cardiovascular health and it also helps build your bones.
2. Vitamin D + Exercise = Lower Blood Sugar (And More)
A South Korean study reveals a fascinating connection between Vitamin D, exercise, and, among other things, blood sugar.
The study involved 52 elderly women, all with type II diabetes, who were divided into three groups. One group underwent circuit aerobics training for 12 weeks. (Circuit training is so called because participants perform a sequential series of exercises.) Another group did the circuit training and took 1200IUs of Vitamin D3 each day. A third group simply continued with their normal lifestyle.
Researchers found that after the 12-week period, the circuit training group had decreased weight, body fat, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). In the group that took Vitamin D3 and did circuit training, the results were even more positive: fasting insulin and glucose were both lower, and so was an important homeostatic model assessment and insulin resistance marker known as HOMA-IR.2
The researchers noted that
“Vitamin D supplementation was especially effective when it was complemented with exercise training,”2
Keeping blood sugar levels on an even keel is a very important aspect of bone health, too. Too much sugar damages bones and has an impact on other body systems, such as immunity and neurological function.
3. Vitamin D Relieves Depression
Prescriptions for antidepressants in the United States have skyrocketed lately. Research clearly shows that antidepressants (particularly SSRIs) increase fracture risk by almost double.
The reason is the inhibition of serotonin, which not only affects mood but also influences and regulates bone formation.
The Save Our Bones approach always includes the whole person, and recognizes that no body system works in isolation. This was startlingly revealed in an animal study that showed how depression triggers the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which serves as a connection between your brain and your skeleton. When the SNS is “set off” by depression, it stimulates the secretion of noradrenaline, a substance that is very damaging to bones. 3
As antidepressants continue to disappoint, and the connection between depression and the physical body is becoming more well-known, Vitamin D is being taken more seriously as a depression reliever…despite “research” showing otherwise.
Prominent Doctor Points The Finger At Flawed Vitamin D3 And Depression Research
Doctor Simon Spedding, an Australian professor at the University of South Australia, conducted a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials (RTCs) that were intended to study the use of Vitamin D to treat depression. Dr. Spedding found some significant flaws, including interventions that did not even involve Vitamin D, where Vitamin D baseline levels were not measured, and the use of data where participants had sufficient Vitamin D levels to begin with (to name a few).
One of the most startling flaws he uncovered is that some of the RTC subjects did not even have depression to begin with.
According to Dr. Spedding’s research, the RTCs without flaws clearly show that Vitamin D effectively relieves depression symptoms.4
In fact, Vitamin D is an excellent addition to a drug-free depression treatment program that also includes exercises in positive thinking, proper nutrition, and regular exercise.
Spring Is Almost Here!
The good news is that with spring just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere, it will be much easier to get plenty of sun-sourced Vitamin D. As Savers know, the sun is the best source of Vitamin D. It bypasses the digestive process, so even those with digestive problems can still get plenty of this crucial vitamin. Also, if you get your Vitamin D from sun exposure, you don’t need to worry about dosage. And of course, sunlight is free!
One caution: in your efforts to get Vitamin D, be careful to not usher in spring with a sunburn. It’s so easy to forget how long you’re outside on those first warm days, and as spring moves into summer, it’s even easier to forget the time you’ve spent in direct sunlight.
Why Not Just Use Sunscreen?
Savers may already know that sunscreen prevents the sun’s beneficial UV rays from hitting your skin, thus preventing the formation of Vitamin D no matter how much time you spend in the sun. And another problem with sunscreens is their toxic ingredients. Conventional sunscreens contain a host of acidifying toxins that can penetrate skin, enter the bloodstream, and damage bones.
At the Save Institute we don't recommend using conventional sunscreens, so to prevent painful and skin-damaging burns, it's very important to not over-expose your skin to the sun's rays. The amount of sun needed to produce Vitamin D varies with skin tone, but a good measure of time to get started it around 20 minutes. And make sure you also take a supplement of at least 400 IUs to ensure you're getting enough of this crucial micronutrient during the summer months, and a higher dose (up to 2000 IUs) when you're not sunbathing or during the colder months.
Till next time,
1 Peter F. Schnatz, et al. “Calcium/vitamin D supplementation, serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and cholesterol profiles in the Women’s Health Initiative calcium/vitamin D randomized trial.” Menopause, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000188
2 Kim, H et al. “Effects of vitamin D supplementation and circuit training on indices of obesity and insulin resistance in T2D and vitamin D deficient elderly women.” Journal of exercise nutrition & biochemistry, 2014.
3 Bajayo, Alon, et al. “Skeletal parasympathetic innervation communicates central IL-1 signals regulating bone mass accrual.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. USA. 2012 September 18; 109(38): 15455-15460. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3458367/
4 Spedding S.”Vitamin D and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis comparing studies with and without biological flaws.” Nutrients. 2014 Apr 11;6(4):1501-18. doi: 10.3390/nu6041501. Review.
Comments on this article are closed.
Although I take plenty of Vitamin D3 supplements (approximately 5,000-6,000 a day) my blood level stays around 19. Would there be a reason I’m not absorbing it? In late 70’s. Same goes for ferritin levels.
I have the same problem with low vitamin d and ferritin levels, but found out recently that it is caused by low stomach acid. For absorbing both these nutrients, there are probiotics you can take around meal times which comes in capsules (that can be opened and sprinkle onto food if preferred). I am only in my 40’s and have a history of digestive problems for some time. Also you should eliminate gluten from your diet as it is evident that it can stop absorbing nutrients from foods (especially wheat). Hope this helps.
My last blood work says that my Vitamin D is high at 157. I’m 76. What should my Vitamin D be? How can I bring it down?. I use a sun screen on my face as I have been treated for Solar Ketosis
Thank you for your comments
Ps I live in Ireland
I would love to have one of these “SunFriends”. But unfortunately I live in Canada.
Do you have any idea when they might be available to us?
Hi, you can buy one on SunFriend.com and we will ship it to Canada.
I was ready to invest the $50 bucks UNTIL I read the PC Mag review says that this product a) doesn’t buzz or notify user that ‘time is up (it flashes, but the user might not notice the flash if the user is outdoors and in sunlight); and b) can only last one year because there’s no way to replace the battery–a deal killer. So I think I’ll plan to walk outside for a while (30-40 minutes before 10AM) and then use sunblock. It would be really frustrating to invest $49.99 for something that doesn’t last longer than its battery.
Hi, and thanks for your comments. Adding a buzzer means it can’t be waterproof, so we weighed our options. The SunFriend takes very little power to run, so it lasts up to 3 years on the current battery. We will have more products coming out that tie in with the phone, allowing for audio alerts and family monitoring and vitamin D factors.
I will tell you that the SunFriend is very accurate, much more accurate than guessing if you are tying to get enough sun on a daily basis. Our lead designer is a physicist at NASA and this is our first product!
The LEDs light up as you go, and you can check the SunFriend from time to time to see how you are progressing. You do not need to wait until it flashes to know what is going on with your sun exposure. 🙂
Hi Vivian, I think this SunFriend is wonderful, thank you so much for finding it. I am going to ask my family in the U.S.A. to buy me one, & I will refund them.
By the way, coconut oil has a 7% SPF protection – & that is all I use on my skin. When I have time, I lie in the sun for half an hour at a time, so I am as brown as a berry, without getting burnt! Coconut oil Organic original is what I use on my face & body, I also use Rose Hip oil under the coconut oil on my face. I stopped using suntan oil a long time ago. I question Vivian, will the coconut oil stop the UV from penetrating the skin?
I take Fultium D3 800mg daily.
Ava Anderson Non-Toxic offers amazing sunscreen products that are perfectly safe to use.
Hi, yes, there are plenty of sunscreens on the market. Most of them block the UVB light – the light that turns you red when you have had too much, and the light that helps your body produce vitamin D.
I followed your advice about going out in the sun without sunscreen for a few minutes several times per week. I was very careful not to overdo it, just a few minutes each time. The good news is my Vitamin D level increased since my last blood work. The bad news is that I went to the dermatologist for my annual check up and she removed 3 moles, that were previously normal and now suddenly were not. Two were “mildly” abnormal, “one was moderate/severely” abnormal. They told me if I had not had the moderate/severely abnormal one removed that it likely would have developed into pre-melanoma within a year or so. To look at the moles one would never had guessed they were abnormal. So…. needless to say I cannot rely on natural sunlight for Vitamin D any longer. I would suggest everyone proceed with caution if you expose your skin to the sun, even for short periods. I am proof you can develop a potentially serious problem that could have been far worse than low bone density.
I do take a vitamin D3 daily i have found it realy has helped my bones over last 2 years due to the fact i can’t sit in the sun cause skin problems.
Being fair skinned and living in a hot climate I need to use factor 50 when I go out in summer.How much vitaminD3
do I need to take in supplement form to get the right amount.Thank you.
I live in the tropics but I try to avoid the (hot, midday) sun because I have a light sensitive skin. I am diagnosed osteoporosis and I take a 500mg calcium supplement +800IU vit.D3 tablet daily. I also eat calcium rich food, much of it inspired by your program. I exercise 3 times a week in a gym, where the trainer is aware of my health situation. Do you think I am doing the right thing?
I recently read that adults should avoid vitamin D.That more than400IUdayresults in calcification of coronary arteries
If you take 2000iu to 4000iu d3 from fish supplement like Raymond Francis d3/k2 supplement or vitacost. Com Thompson d3 2500iu lemon flavor chewable (from fish) always with nowfoods k2mk7 supplement your fine
Thomas levy cardiologist optimal vit d3 50-80ng/ml
Sherry Rogers m.d. vit d 60-80ng/ml
Amy Meyers never supplement d3 without k2mk7
What was the refund policy for The Save Our Bones program?
My sister was told by her dermatologist that the only way one gets Vitamin D3 is through your eyes. Is this true?
She needs to change dermatologists!
This is why I visit no dermatologist. I’m a better dermatologist than a dermatologist.
I have been taking vitamin D3 for many years now. My question is: if I wear the sunscreen watch and it tells me my vitamin D level has been reached for the day, does this mean I should discontinue taking my daily vitamin D3 supplement?
What type of Vitamin D supplements are the best to take? I have read that some are not worth taking.
waiting for sunFriend to be available out of US.
I can recommend and have taken ‘Natures Plus vitamin D3 5000iu’ for over 2 years and my bone Dexa scan has improved. I took these instead of having to have biphosphonates and they worked for me.
Vivian, Sunday I e-mailed you the results of my latest bone density test. It showed that after being on your program for over a year the bone density in my forearm and spine had decreased. The density in my hip increased by .03. I have followed the diet the best I can, I exercise (with and without weights) walk 2 to 5 miles 5xs a week.Also take most the vitamins you recommend. So my question to you again today is what should i do now.
So sad that SAVE OUR BONES can’t offer items to those savers outside the US.
Understandable but sad.
How can someone not wear a sunscreen of they work outdoors all day? This surely has to be taken seriously. What is the best advice here?
I have using vit D3 for ten years and following Save Your Bones guidelines for 2 years now. I exercise regularly and at 70 yrs. Old I feel great. I highly recommend vit D3 and healthy eating and lifestyle!