Your Ultimate Guide to Vitamin D – Part 1
Vitamin D is incredibly important to your health. In my dental practice, it’s the number one measure I use to gauge the health of my patients.
Vitamin D deficiency is thought to increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease in the mouth – I’ve found this to be especially true. Nearly every patient I see with dental disease, also has vitamin D deficiency.
The problem is that people aren’t aware how important vitamin D is for their dental health. This becomes a bigger issue because vitamin D is fundamental for your entire body. If you haven’t had your vitamin D tested recently, I highly recommend you check your vitamin D blood levels regularly.
Vitamin D is so critical I wanted to take a deep dive into it’s importance in a four-part series.
Over the next four articles, we will examine:
- Why the vital health benefits of vitamin D
- Symptoms or signs of vitamin D deficiency and important testing information
- How to optimize your vitamin D levels with sunlight and good gut health
- The little-known link between vitamin D, sleep disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease
Your vitamin D status is huge indicator of your overall health. The good news is you can get more vitamin D relatively easily and cheaply – let’s take a closer look.
So what is vitamin D and what is its function in the body
Vitamin D and calcium absorption go hand-in-hand in your body. You probably know vitamin D is important for healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis and rickets (which is why the government began fortifying milk in the 1932). Without adequate vitamin D levels your body will only absorb 10-15% of the calcium you eat from your diet.
What isn’t widely known is that there’s a growing body of research discovering that vitamin D is powerful for your health in numerous other ways, including:
- Improving digestive and gut microbiome health
- Treating irritable bowel syndrome
- Improving brain function
- Decreasing unhealthy weight gain and obesity
- Reducing the risk of autoimmune diseases
- Preventing mortality
When you look at what happens to a body without sufficient vitamin D it becomes readily apparent that it is critical for your health. Conditions associated with low vitamin D levels include:
Vitamin D is NOT a vitamin
Many are surprised to hear that vitamin D is not a vitamin at all – it’s actually a group of steroid hormone precursors. In short, it’s much more accurate to imagine vitamin D as a hormone than a vitamin.
Your vitamin D status is an indicator of your overall health because vitamin D is intricately linked to nearly every system in your body. A major responsibility of vitamin D is improving your intestinal absorption of important nutrients, mainly calcium.
Vitamin D is more than a benefit for bone health, it impacts heart health, hormone regulation, immune system responses, and even brain cell growth. Of the almost 30,000 genes in your body, vitamin D impacts about 3,000, making it incredibly important to your epigenetics – the process of turning gene expression on and off. Even your nerves need vitamin D to carry messages between the brain and every part of your body.
How vitamin D works
Really understanding how this vitamin works in your body starts with knowing that, as mentioned, it’s more like a hormone than a vitamin. Vitamin D initially begins in its provitamin D form where it’s activated and converted into calcitriol. Calcitriol is the biologically active form of your vitamin D.
Without this activation process, which occurs in the liver and kidney, the vitamin D you get from the sun or supplementation would remain inactive.
Remember the term “calcitriol” because it’s super important to many processes within the body.
There are two forms of vitamin D you can consume or produce internally after sun exposure– vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, respectively.
The difference between “vitamins” D2 and D3
The label vitamin D is usually referring both to vitamins D2 and D3. The major difference between these two vitamins are:
Vitamin D3 is two to three times more potent than D2 and easier for your body to use.
In one study where 20 healthy volunteers were given 50,000 IU of both vitamins, found that vitamin D2 to be “markedly lower potency and shorter duration of action relative to vitamin D3.” Meaning vitamin D2 is significantly less potent than D3.
Vitamin D2 is called ergocalciferol and is converted into its metabolite – 25-hydroxy ergocalciferol. Your body does not make vitamin D2, it can only be consumed through food.
Your body makes Vitamin D3 after it’s exposed to sunshine. Vitamin D3 can also be consumed in supplement form or in foods such as salmon, mackerel, and herring. Vitamin D3 is called cholecalciferol and is converted in the liver into its metabolite – calcifediol. Next this metabolite is converted by the kidneys into its active form – calcitriol.
Remember good ol’ calcitriol?
It’s your body’s biologically active form of vitamin D and an important part of maintaining your health. Calcitriol circulates your body through your blood and acts just like a hormone. Calcitriol can stimulate cell growth, boost immune system, and reduce inflammation.
If you suspect you’re deficient in vitamin D, you can request your doctor test your vitamin D2 and D3 metabolites to see where you’re lacking. Keep in mind, some doctors are finding that gut conditions such as leaky gut are leading to vitamin D deficiency despite otherwise sufficient vitamin D supplementation.
If you find out you have low vitamin D levels but believe you’re getting sufficient sun and enough vitamin D through your food – consider checking your gut health. You’ll learn more about checking your vitamin D levels and gut health in Part 2 of this series.
Vitamin D deficiency creates a negative cycle
In much of the literature on vitamin D and associated conditions, there’s often the question of which came first – the vitamin D deficiency or the condition? This is because vitamin D is so critical to our health that one factor (such as gut issues) can lead to a vicious circle of health problems.
Vitamin D deficiency (or a poor absorption) can cause all sorts of health issues. Some of the first signs of vitamin D deficiency include tooth decay and bleeding gums. If vitamin D deficiency continues, it can lead to digestive, immune system, and brain disorders. This is why it’s so important not to ignore dental health issues. Your mouth is the gateway to your overall health – never ignore the signs it’s giving you.
Image: Consequences of vitamin D deficiency via the VitaminDwiki.com
How to increase your vitamin D levels
Firstly, food is your ultimate way to boost your vitamin D levels. The Dental Diet is your 40-day food guide to eating food-rich sources of the fat-soluble vitamins.
I encourage most of my patients to try and get more sunshine whenever possible, without burning. You can also add supplements – I recommend vitamin D3 with K2. Check out Part 3 of this series for unconventional ideas to boost your vitamin D levels.
- Are you getting enough vitamin D?
- Do you have vitamin D deficiency?
- Is your gut messing with your vitamin D levels?
In Part 2 of this series we will examine the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency, proper vitamin D levels, and the importance of gut health in vitamin D absorption. Check it out here!
How to test your Vitamin D levels at home
I recommend testing 4x every year at a minimum. After few months of supplementing, it’s time to RE-TEST.
Buy 3-4 tests online tests from these locations
Home Vitamin D Testing Kits
Vitamin D Council-> Get It Here
Physicians Best -> Get It Here
ZRT Lab – > Get It Here
Cerascreen -> Get It Here
Sun VitD3 –> Get It Here
Thriva –> Get It Here
Do you have any questions regarding vitamin D? Are you currently taking a supplement form of vitamin D? Leave your experiences in the comment section below.
Want to know more? Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
Click below to order your copy now: