The Critical Importance of Vitamin D and How to Ensure Proper Levels

In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of vitamin D and its role in various bodily functions. Vitamin D is not only crucial for bone health but also plays a part in immune function, inflammation regulation, neurogenesis, and cell differentiation. The video highlights the significant correlation between vitamin D deficiency and chronic diseases such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, and neurodegenerative disorders. The speaker emphasizes the need for proper intake of vitamin D through diet or supplementation, the importance of co-factors such as magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, and the necessity of monitoring vitamin D levels through blood tests.

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Key Insights:

  • Vitamin D is considered the number one deficiency in the world and plays a critical role in various bodily functions
  • Low vitamin D levels are associated with chronic diseases, frailty, inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer
  • Vitamin D is involved in calcium absorption, bone health, immune function, inflammation regulation, neurogenesis, and gene stability
  • Factors such as air pollution, clothing, pigmentation, latitude, aging, insulin resistance, and inadequate sun exposure affect vitamin D production in the skin
  • Most people need to rely on diet or supplementation to meet their vitamin D requirements
  • The digestion and absorption of vitamin D require digestive enzymes and should be consumed with healthy fats
  • Vitamin D is transported in the body by a vitamin D binding protein and then needs to bind to a vitamin D receptor to exhibit its biological effects
  • Vitamin D activity also depends on co-factors such as healthy foods, exercise, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, boron, and vitamin K2
  • The recommended daily intake of vitamin D ranges from 600 to 2,000 IU, but optimal levels may vary depending on individual factors, and blood tests should be done to determine appropriate supplementation
  • Optimal vitamin D levels are usually between 50 to 80 nano-grams per deciliter, but levels should be monitored to avoid deficiency or toxicity
  • Blood tests should be done regularly to measure vitamin D levels and make necessary adjustments to supplementation


Hello Health Champions. Today we’re going to talk about the number one vitamin D danger you must know. You can make a very strong case for vitamin D being the number one deficiency in the world and not only that but it’s of critical importance and we’re only just learning just how important it is in fact some people have said that it’s a biomarker of chronic disease and Frailty in other words looking at nothing else like you only get one thing on the blood work and there’s a very strong correlation between your vitamin D status and how well you’re doing overall. So we’re going to talk about a number of critical steps that we all have to have in place in order for us to utilize vitamin D properly and if you want to follow along and get a copy of these slides then there’s a link down below so that you can get that.

Now when we’re talking about What vitamin D does there there is a classic role and a non-classic role so typically vitamin D is primarily associated with calcium phosphorus and Bone about depositing getting vitamin D gets calcium into the bone so it can Harden and make proper bone and this was found out in 1920 based on something called rickets if you have a severe deficiency of vitamin D as you’re growing up as your bones are growing and lengthening you can’t make hard bone and you get what’s called osteomalacia Soft bones and they found out that vitamin D was completely responsible for these soft bones and as soon as they provided some vitamin D they solve the problem of rickets but that was only one thing that was the first thing that found but it’s only one thing of What vitamin D does so now we have learned more about its non-classic role and this has to do with immune function about activating immune cells regulating immune cells has to do with apoptosis the lifespan and the programmed cell death of cells vitamin D is critically important to regulate inflammation so if vitamin D is low inflammation goes up it is also involved with neurogenesis that means building new brain tissue making new brain cells new brain connections as in repairing brain tissue after concussions maybe but also in terms of learning new things you have to make new connections and vitamin D is critical for that so here where there’s some controversy that most of these non-classic roles we have learned in the last 10 years not all of it but the vast majority that we know about vitamin D we’ve learned in last 10 years to compare with the calcium stuff we found out over a hundred years ago but some people are kind of stuck in this old thinking so when we ask if you’re getting enough vitamin D some people kind of argue that yeah you have enough vitamin D to make bone and that may be true but the question then is do we have enough vitamin D for all these other critical functions but important as this stuff is there’s way way more so cell proliferation for example the production and the maturation of cells the cell differentiation the ability of a cell to become a bone cell or a heart cell or a liver cell or a brain cell that’s all about differentiation and about Gene stability the stability of your genetic makeup of your DNA so when this is working we have healthy tissue now there’s something called cancer and cancer is characterized by uncontrolled cell proliferation it is with poor cell differentiation and with genomic instability with those three things in place as we could have with low vitamin D that is called cancer so especially malignant bad cancer that is uncontrolled is associated with low vitamin D another thing that is becoming rampant is autoimmune disease the most common one is for thyroid and we test thyroid antibodies on all of our blood work and we find it probably in 20 30% of people there are thyroid antibodies but not just thyroid there is rheumatoid arthritis there is lupus there is ankylosing spondylitis there is psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and the list goes on and on and on even type one diabetes is an autoimmune disease that can be influenced by vitamin D and then we have all of the neurodegenerative diseases the breakdown of nervous system tissue or insufficiency such as in Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s dementia we also have neuro psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia and depression that are also influenced by vitamin D so I think you can begin to see just how important it is that there’s virtually no body function where vitamin D is not involved so to call it important is an enormous understatement and just like we said before you could look at Vitamin D as a single biomarker and get a pretty good idea of how healthy this person is and then a good question is is the vitamin D a cause or result of the disease in other words are people sick because they don’t get enough vitamin D or is the vitamin D low because they’re sick and can’t process it or utilize it properly and the answer is definitely both that if you’re low in Vitamin D it can call cause all sorts of problems and if you are sick you’re not going to process vitamin D as well so it kind of becomes a vicious cycle.

So just how big of a problem is this worldwide well officially you’re called deficient if you are below 20 nano-grams per deciliter on a blood test and that’s about 42 to 97% of the world’s population depending on different regions depending on the country so in some countries where they fortify and they supplement the food more they can be as low as 40 but there’s still 40% of the population in those places that are less than 20 nano-grams which is disastrously low and in some areas especially in the Middle East you can find as much as 97% of people being deficient. And then someone said well that can’t be right that many people can’t possibly be deficient so they tried to kind of change the guidelines a little bit and they said well you know we found that even at 12.5 nano-grams most people still mineralize bone pretty well but see now they’re back into that classic role where they’re mostly concerned with whether you can put calcium in the bone or not they’re not really addressing the bigger picture. Either way even 20 nano-grams is way way too low and then the next level up they’re not calling you deficient just insufficient and that is when you’re below 30 nano-grams per deciliter. But like I hinted a lot of these numbers are mostly concerned with the classic role are we able to mineralize Bone so the question is what’s really optimal if we really want the full benefit for hundreds and hundreds of these critical functions how high do we really need to be. So we’re going to talk you through a few steps where you can start understanding that a little bit better.

So I’m going to tell you a little story about the steps necessary for utilizing vitamin D. Classically the idea is that we are out in the sun and we get sunlight and as our skin is exposed to the UV radiation now we make vitamin D in the skin and all should be well but most people would agree today that what we can produce via the skin is just not enough today because there’s so many different factors that can interfere. And one for example is air pollution that because of the extensive amount of air pollution we’re not making vitamin D the way we used to. Another thing is that if you rent around naked in the sun all day long you’d probably be okay but I have noticed most people tend to wear clothes and they tend to spend quite a bit of time indoors. And also pigmentation the darker your skin the more you kind of repel that UV radiation so the darker your skin the less you can convert and make vitamin D. Latitude if you live really far from or quite far from the equator you also don’t get as much sun or not the same intensity of sun uh the intensity will change with the season and the time of day if you’re most F out in the sun like toward the end of the day then the sun isn’t strong enough to really convert a lot either. Then as we age the conversion goes down further and then there’s all these different conditions like insulin resistance which 80% of the population has to some degree where they eat too many carbohydrates and too much sugar and the insulin stops working properly it’s not enough so we have to make more insulin and we be become insulin resistant that also interferes with vitamin D production.

So for most people the only realistic alternative is to get vitamin D also through diet and or supplementation and whether we get it through diet or supplementation now of course we have to absorb it and in terms of diet there’s very very few dietary sources really it’s a few animal products the only Rich product really is is cod liver oil and cod liver pate if you eat those on a regular basis and the other one would be irradiated mushrooms that’s a pretty strong source so mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light. There’s a little bit in various animal products and animal fats like butter and cream and animal fats and eggs but not really enough so supplementation is really the only practical and reasonable way for most people to get their vitamin D on a daily basis. So now when we eat it as food or a supplement of course it gets into the stomach and we have to break it down and in order to break it down we need digestive enzymes to break down our food and because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin we also need to eat it with fat if you eat a very low fat diet and you don’t release enough bile for example you’re not going to break down and make use of that vitamin D very well in fact they found that by eating a vitamin D supplement with the biggest meal of the day you could increase absorption by 50% because it’s absorbed as part of food as part of fat and if you have a bigger meal then there’s going to be more digestive enzymes and a more involved absorption process for that. But then the vitamin D has to be transported so just because it got in your stomach and you managed to absorb it and even get it into the bloodstream it still doesn’t do you any good and there is something called a vitamin D binding protein VDBP for short and if that protein is is low that means that there’s less vitamin D activity because virtually no vitamin D is floating around by itself it’s all carried to where it needs to go by this VDBP so not only do you need to have enough vitamin D you also need to have enough of this protein and if you don’t for example they have found an increased risk of malignant tumors especially as it relates to breast cancer prostate cancer and colorectal cancer and there is a strong association with these Cancers and a low VDBP.

And then of course if you don’t have enough of the protein it’s still going to help to take more vitamin D so that you can saturate it better so that there’s more available and in fact I found that in a group of people just taking 1,00 international units per day which still isn’t a whole lot they reduced the risk of this cancer by 60 to 77%. But the binding protein also isn’t enough it can only transport it but now we need to get it into the cell so we have all these different steps that build on each other and the next is like I mentioned to get it into the cell and now we have something called a vitamin D receptor so The Binding protein is going to take this Vitamin D from the bloodstream or from the skin and take it to its Target organ and now we have these little receptors on the surface of the cell and only if those VDR receptors are working can we get the vitamin D in and express that biological function and these vitamin D receptors are basically on every cell in the body but they’re more highly expressed where the vitamin D is the most important and these would be places like your kidney cells your immune cells your bone cells but also in special places in your nervous system a lot of different places but among others the substantia nigra which is associated with making dopamine and Parkinson so if you have low vitamin D you can’t really get the full activity out of your substantia nigra your dopamine goes down and you’re at increased risk for Parkinson. Hypothalamus is an area that regulates your hormones and your hunger and your thirst and temperature and so forth so now when these areas don’t work now we have neuro-psychiatric effects like schizophrenia depression we have neuro-cognitive like Parkinson’s and various motor disorders and dementia and we even have a lot of different endocrine disorders and hormone imbalances even diabetes has a very strong link to vitamin D and they link it specifically to this vitamin D receptor both type one and type two diabetes.

So when vitamin D is low now there is less insulin release we produce less so we can’t manage blood glucose as well but the main thing of course leading to diabetes to type two is in insulin resistance when we have a lot of vitamin D then insulin resistance goes down when vitamin D is low insulin resistance goes up and when our immune system is down if vitamin D is low immune regulation goes down now we have less defenses against type 1 diabetes which is an autoimmune disease and that brings us to co-actors so we can go through all these different steps we can get the vitamin D into the cell but we still can’t necessarily have vitamin D activity at least not all of it because most nutrients most enzymes and co-actors they work together with other things and the number one co-actor to help you process vitamin D is going to be healthy foods rich whole healthy foods that are grown the right way and cooked the right way provide more nutrients more co-actors than anything else possibly could if you eat processed food and a bunch of sugar now you’re missing a little bit of everything the number two thing is exercise believe it or not because exercise optimizes the function it activates every cell in your body it allows it to live up to its potential if you will now first and third place is is adequate vitamin D intake so whether you get it from the Sun or whether you need to supplement uh obviously you have to get enough vitamin D one way or the other number four is magnesium magnesium participates in hundreds of different chemical reactions and Pathways in the body and it is the most important co- factor for vitamin D to do its thing number five is omega-3 fatty acids the EPA and the DHA they are also essential for activating and transporting vitamin D number six is zinc if you haven’t noticed yet zinc tends to show up in all sorts of places number seven is boron which is another essential mineral and number eight is vitamin K2 now some people need to add that as a supplement some people can manufacture it through the gut and we do get some through food as well a lot of times it is recommended that you get your vitamin D3 in combination with a vitamin K2 I haven’t found that to be optimal most of the time I find that a lot of people need to start with vitamin D3 and do that for maybe 3 to six months and then maybe for some of them to start adding adding in vitamin K2. But how much vitamin D do you need to take?

We’ve pretty much concluded that most people should supplement but how much? So the basic recommendation is that you should get at least 600 IU’s per day international units and if you’re over the age of 60 or so you should get 800 IU’s. Now if you’re in a different part of the world sometimes they measure this in micro-grams and then you divide the international units by 40 to come up with the micro-grams and some nutrition labels will have both the standard guidelines also say that 2,000 IU’s is the max that you should ever get. Now here’s the problem that for a lot of people that is not going to be enough that 2,000 IU’s might be okay for some people and it’s a lot of genetic factors it’s about sun exposure Etc but 2,000 IU’s is not going to be enough for most people 5,000 is going to be okay for a lot of people but we also have a lot of people in the clinic taking 5,000 IU’s and they’re still deficient on their blood work even after months of taking that and we test vitamin D on everyone in the clinic some people take 10,000 and it is probably too much for most people so in the clinic we find that the majority of people probably Center in around 5,000 IU’s if they take 10,000 that if they’re really deficient we probably put them on 10,000 for a month or two but in the long run 10,000 is going to put you over it’s going to put you into Vitamin D toxicity which is also something that you really don’t want so here’s the thing because there’s so many variables so much individual variability and so many factors to weigh in you really don’t know unless you measure you got to get a blood test and you got to get the level so next time you do blood work you have to either order it or insist that they they put it on there and once you get your results back from the blood levels what are we talking about about what should a good level be well less than 20 nano-grams is like we said it’s deficient it is much under it’s in the Red Zone basically and if you’re in the US typically they’re going to measure nano-grams per deciliter if you’re in other parts of the world they might measure in nano-moles per liter and the way to get from one to the other is you multiply the nano-grams by 2.5 so I’ll give you both units here then in the orange Zone meaning you’re insufficient it’s still too low but it’s not critical that’s 30 nano-grams which would be 75 nano-moles now what most people who are involved with functional medicine with nutrition with holistic practices that people that do a lot of blood work and specialize in that they will set the lower limit at 50 nano-grams which would be 125 nano-moles and the upper end of optimal is probably around 80 nano-grams or 200 nano-moles so that’s the range that you’re looking for optimal is between 50 and 80 and the reason that we want to be in this range and for a lot of people you probably want to be toward the higher end of that is that while some people can probably get by with 30 like we just talked about there’s so much individual Variability in terms of absorption in terms of binding protein transport and vitamin D receptor and your availability of co-actors that if you have one or more limitations along the way then you have to compensate by having some more so if you are hovering around the upper end you’re probably doing well but we also get people in on the blood work and now they’re over a hundred and this is where we want to back off because there is such a thing as Vitamin D toxicity it can put your blood calcium is too high it can cause all sorts of problems in your body so you really don’t want to go too high either and that’s why it’s so important to measure this stuff so 100 nano-grams would be 250 nano-moles and where it really gets to be a problem is over 150 nano-grams or 375 nano-moles this is vitamin D toxicity and it’s not real easy to get there but you want to make sure you don’t get even close you probably have to take tens of thousands for quite a long time but like we said there’s also some variability and we’ve had people get to a hundred without taking a whole lot for some people that could be two three four 5,000 and other people need to take 10,000 and they still don’t get there so you need to measure it and you need to stay and monitor and then stay in a good range so I hope you see that vitamin D is too important to ignore it’s too important not to know where you are it governs so many critical functions so you need to measure you need to know where you are you can’t just take 2,000 or 5,000 and assume and then you supplement based on that measurement and then you recheck and you Monitor and then you rinse and repeat as necessary after you have in the beginning you probably want to check every two to three months until you get a handle on it and I think you should check blood work anytime you try to make changes you should get blood work every three months once you get some results and you learn your Baseline and you get stable you don’t need to take blood work nearly as often and the same holds true for vitamin D but you need to start understanding how your body functions.