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Why we can’t put sunlight in a capsule

Since 2007, vitamin D has been one of the fastest growing supplements and this rise in popularity seems to be continuing for the time being. Vitamin D3 supplements are widely recommended by doctors, health enthusiasts and orthomolecular therapists. But is D3 use always the wise option? This is a question many people ask themselves and one that everyone, indeed, should be asking.

Beyond black and white

Who spend some time on the subject knows that vitamin D3 supplementation is not as black and white as often thought. Simply put: There is a lot we do not know and understand. We previously devoted a blog to our thinking to stimulate thought at this point and to make sure that people do not just take high amounts of vitamin D3.

Sunlight produces more than just vitamin D

When vitamin D3 is touted as "sunlight in a jar" there is good reason to pause. It is true that bodily production of vitamin D3 is importantly mediated by sunlight exposure, but sunlight does much more than just create vitamin D3. This is such that you cannot capture sunlight in a jar or exclusively link its benefits to vitamin D3.

1. Sunlight-borne vitamin D3 is different from vitamin D3 derived from food sources or supplements. This entails a difference between vitamin D3 sulfate versus vitamin D3. It’s a small molecular detail with big consequences for biological properties.

2. Reductionist thinking may suggest that the sun is only healthy because it stimulates the production of vitamin D3. Other effects are almost always ignored. You would be forgetting such benefits as the production of nitric oxide, β-Endorphinic, Substance P, melatonin, serotonin, and dopamine.

High concentrations

Vitamin D3 is actually a hormone and there is probably a good evolutionary reason why it does not appear in very high concentrations in our regular diets. Indeed, it is uncommon, and ill-advised, to eat high levels of any hormone. What you would normally be eating are the building blocks of hormones such that the body can produce these potent chemicals themselves on an on-demand basis.

The logic of supplementation

If you look at this and try to comprehend the bigger picture, it is logical to think that a vitamin D3 deficiency might mean a lack of sunlight, a situation that cannot be solved, not fully at least, just by taking a supplement. From springtime onward, try to make structural use of the power of the sun.

If your busy lifestyle prevents you from the above, try a vitamin-D-rich diet where vitamin D3 is part of a package of mutually complementary nutrients including vitamin A and fatty acids, such as in cod-liver oil. Consider combining this with Emu oil and complement the whole with substances such as vitamin K and other fatty acids.

Even optimal blood levels of vitamin D3 are not a black and white thing. Levels vary markedly from ethnicity to ethnicity. Here we have a case of biochemical individuality.

Dark-skinned people have lower vitamin D3 needs than do light-skinned people. It seems that non-whites are better adapted to lower levels than are people with a Caucasian background. The difference between dark and light skins is clear but there are countless variations in cases of mixing descent. It is not illogical to think that there are substantive differences in what to consider “optimal” vitamin D3 levels.

For consideration

  1. Magnesium is an important cofactor in the production, conversion and storage of vitamin D3. Magnesium deficiency may be a cause of low D3 blood levels.
  2. Vitamin D3 is stored in fat tissue for the winter. Under natural conditions mammals fatten up during the summer and fall. Under the influence of cold mammals become slimmer in winter because they burn fat. This gradually releases fat-stored vitamin D3. But consider that today we experience almost no real cold anymore because our living environments are artificially heated.
  3. Very high levels of vitamin D3 during fall and winter seem to disturb the natural adaptability of the human animal against cold.

In summary:

  1. Do not haphazardly take a vitamin D3 supplement.
  2. Are you having low D3 blood levels? Try a combination of sunlight exposure, cod liver oil, and a vitamin D3 supplement.
  3. Got adequate levels? Continue with your current lifestyle and diet.
  4. Are your levels too high? Stop taking vitamin D3 supplements and get plenty of other fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, K) to protect yourself against toxicity.
  5. Regularly re-test your blood levels.
  6. Use the sun as your main, go-to vitamin D3 source.
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