Vitamin D

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Key Findings

  • While the best source of vitamin D is safe sun exposure, this key nutrient is also available from protein-rich foods and nutritional supplements.

  • Vitamin D puts your best face forward by destroying free radicals that can cause premature aging; minimizing wrinkles and fine lines; and optimizing the immune system.  

  • Consuming vitamin D along with vitamin K2 is the ideal scenario, as they pair nicely to get calcium where it’s needed the most.


Sunshine is a good start

As we were growing up, our moms cautioned us to avoid spending too much time in the sun.  And if we did choose to play outside for hours on end, we were told to apply – and reapply – sunscreen to prevent burning and skin damage.

In some ways, this was good advice … and in others, not so much.  Because in order to reap the maximum health benefits of vitamin D, our best source of this essential vitamin is the sun.  The optimal amount of direct sun exposure is five to 10 minutes at a time, several times a week, on bare skin without the masking effect of sunscreen.

Referred to by many as “the sunshine vitamin,” this fat-soluble vitamin is created when the sun’s rays convert a chemical in your skin into calcitriol, an active form of vitamin D, following exposure to the sun. Your ability to harness this solar power is based on several factors.  Do you live in the northern latitudes … or in an area where pollution is especially heavy?   Are you darker skinned?  Do you spend the majority of your daylight hours inside?  These scenarios – and more – impact your ability to effectively absorb the ultraviolet radiation B (UVB) necessary to produce Vitamin D.  

Can I also get vitamin D from what I eat?

Whether or not you’re able to get your weekly recommended time in the sun, vitamin D can fortunately be found in many natural and fortified foods, including (in alphabetical order):

  • Cod liver oil

  • Cereal

  • Egg yolks

  • Herring

  • Maitake mushrooms

  • Milk

  • Orange juice

  • Salmon

  • Sardines

  • Shrimp

  • Tuna

  • Yogurt


And if a standard blood test suggests that you may need additional vitamin D to get up to the minimum recommended levels, supplementation by a physician or skilled holistic practitioner can help fill in those gaps.  

The numerous benefits of vitamin D

Hands down: vitamin D is an award-winner in the health category.  

Most commonly associated with building strong bones and teeth, vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood to help the intestines absorb the calcium they need, and prevent it from being eliminated through the kidneys.  A vitamin D deficiency can result in poor bone density and muscle weakness, commonly seen as osteomalacia (soft bones) and osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

Researchers have also found a link between vitamin D and seasonal flus, as evinced by a 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that discovered that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter helped lessen the likelihood of contracting influenza A by more than 40 percent.

Not only that, but this essential nutrient can give you support you need to balance insulin levels for those with diabetes, promote weight loss by suppressing appetite, improve moods, and ward off conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis and heart disease.

But we’re really just scratching the surface

In addition, vitamin D reaps positive rewards for the skin.  

As a powerful antioxidant, vitamin D can stave off free radicals, which can help mitigate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It can also reduce inflammation on your skin, of particular interest for those suffering with acne, and can even help in the treatment of the itchy, chronic rashes associated with eczema.

What about vitamin K2? How does that factor into the vitamin D equation?

Many experts feel that consuming vitamin D alone isn’t enough – and that to realize maximum health benefits, it needs to be complemented by vitamin K2.  When the body receives adequate levels of both key nutrients, it’s able to function at its best.

When you take both factors into consideration, the answer to the equation is simple math.  While vitamin D is pivotal for calcium absorption, vitamin K2 is necessary for calcium direction.  This nutritional partner helps guide the calcium to the skeleton where it’s needed, rather than being deposited in the arteries, organs or joint spaces, where it’s not.

On a cardiovascular level, this vitamin duo’s impact is even greater.  Vitamin K2 is able to prevent arterial plaque caused by excessive calcium formation in the arteries by activating a protein hormone called osteocalcin.  By avoiding excess plaque buildup, the chances of a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack are lessened.

Many health experts also feel that it might be better to not take vitamin C and D at all if you’re not accompanying them with vitamin K2.  Alone, calcium can have negative cardiovascular implications, including excessive clotting, without being balanced by vitamins D and K2.  

What’s the bottom line?

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that has a positive impact, both inside and out.  Externally, it can protect and rejuvenate skin by destroying free radicals that can cause premature aging; minimizing age spots, wrinkles and fine lines; and optimizing the skin’s immune system.  Internally, its benefits include strong bones and teeth and improved cardiovascular health, particularly when married with vitamin K2.  


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