Refresher on Vitamin D

            Today we are going to look at a vitamin that I believe we all know is important (although remember from the vitamin and mineral blog that known is more important, they work in conjunction with one another; check out lasts week post on vitamin A), and that is vitamin D. I apologize now that I am going to get pretty technical, so if you want to get the gist of the post or the important facts browse through the bulleted sections. Vitamin D can be used as a hormone, but before that it must be activated. For activation it must be converted to calcidiol in the livers and secondly this must be converted to calcitriol (I know they look virtually the same, I too had to take a double take) in the kidneys, or small amounts produced in most cells. Then it is used as a hormone in two ways to direct cells: inside with DNA or outside on receptor sites.

        As we have looked at with other vitamins (check out our vitamin and mineral post), D comes in a couple of different forms; mainly D3 and D2. The difference:

  • D3 is synthesized in the skin (or the oil in fur) or can be provided in the diet of meat eating species
  • D2 is industrially synthesized with yeast or found in some mushrooms

       It is said that D3 is 5-10x more effective at raising calcidiol levels (it is believed that D2 does not bind as well as D3).

       Ways to get vitamin D can come topically through the skin or through dietary intake. Clearly there are benefits to both. Dietary sources can be found year-round, compared to the many factors affecting sun absorption. It does not have a built in mechanism (like the skin does) to prevent excess levels. Let’s begin with beautiful sun rays. UVB waves convert to 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin to D3. This travels to the blood binding to DBP (vitamin D binding protein), before winding up in the liver for its final transformation to calcidiol. Like I mentioned the body has a couple of mechanisms that prevent excessive intake of vitamin D:

  • A specific area of skin can only produce so much vitamin D
  • Repetitive exposure causes melanin to accumulate and the formation of vitamin D thus decreases

      Wow the body is pretty resourceful. The problem with the sun, is that for many of us who do not live in the tropics, exposure is a problem most months of the year. There are several factors that affect absorption:

  • Angle of the sun ray
  • Ozone pollution
  • Altitude
  • Reflective surfaces (snow)
  • Clouds and buildings
  • Clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Race
  • Age (decreases with age so a 70 year old produces 4 fold less vitamin D as they did when they were 20 and should increase their dietary intake of vitamin D)

     Now the sun is not the only way that we can get vitamin D, but also the skin. We can get a small amount through fatty animal products, but fish is where its at. Fish can synthesize D when they swim near the surface, but also the large amount of plankton in their diet, which are rich in D provitamins, helps with these large amounts. Some foods and there levels of D:

  • Bovine Blood                                                                   4000
  • High-Vitamin Cod Liver Oil                                          3450
  • Lard                                                                                  2800
  • Chum Salmon                                                                  1300
  • Herring                                                                             1100
  • Bluefin tuna                                                                      720
  • Duck Egg                                                                         720
  • Steam Oyster                                                                  642
  • Rainbow Trout                                                                600
  • Eel                                                                                     200-560
  • Mackerel                                                                          345-440
  • Salmon                                                                             360
  • Canned Sardines                                                            270
  • Egg                                                                                   120
  • Butter                                                                               56
  • Beef Liver                                                                        30
  • Pork                                                                                  28
  • Tallow                                                                               19

 *Blood at the top? As you’ll recall we did a post on blood a few weeks ago and interestingly, animals store D as calcidiol in their blood so that it has 5x the amount of unconverted vitamin D!

       Probably should have mentioned this first, but here are some of the responsibilities of vitamin D:

  • Bone formation
  • Calcium absorption
  • Increase muscular coordination

There are several diseases that it is suggested/proven to protect against:

  • Rickets
  • Osteomalacia
  • Hypocalcemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Increase blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Mental illness
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscular weakness
  • Radiation poisoning
  • Diabetes
  • MS

 Now this article could be exponentially more complex, but I am going to cut it off. Get vitamin D through the sun (when available) and other times switch to a traditional diet that includes vitamin D, while also including other fat-soluble vitamin (basically a varied nutrient dense diet). For more on our fat-burner weight loss programs check out our website at

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