Vitamin D – the Sunshine Vitamin
…. cute name with an evil punch?
The latest “best-selling vitamin” so it seems is vitamin D. You surely can’t have missed the news that the majority of us supposedly are vitamin D deficient (Nair & Maseeh, 2012; Kennel et al., 2010). If media or our doctors don’t encourage us to take a vitamin D supplement then the discussion about vitamin D surely comes up with friends and family.
Is vitamin D just a vitamin?
Is vitamin D as supplement harmless?
What if vitamin D were a hormone?
What if vitamin D is a hormone?
Are we supposed to eat hormones?
Would you feel safe consuming excess hormones, in addition to the hormones your body already creates?
What if vitamin D isn’t just a vitamin?
Let’s talk hormones
Hormones are all around us. We like, no, we love, to blame our hormones for stubborn belly fat, low energy, moodiness, hunger or cravings.
- many people blame feeling unwell, imbalanced or lethargic on hormonal imbalance?
- often do you hear the statement, I can’t lose weight, it’s my hormones?
- many of us get upset when we hear a report that hormones, such as oestrogen are found in tap water or that hormonal disruptors are all around us, from the food we eat to the shampoo we use?
- many of us avoid soya or soya products due to their said oestrogen like effects in our body?
Hormones: produced in our body
Within our body we have 7 major glands (such as thyroid, pituitary, pineal, ovaries,…) that produce hormones. As a matter of fact, we differentiate between different hormone families, like digestive hormones, stress hormones (cortisol being a famous one), sex hormones (just think oestrogen or testosterone), blood sugar balancing hormones (we have all heard of insulin) or sleep hormones, just to name a few.
Factors that influence our hormones include nutrients, food, stress, environment, digestion and sleep but also other hormones.
With this in mind, while our body is meant to produce hormones, I doubt we are supposed to eat hormones!
Would you consume a hormone as eagerly as you consume a vitamin D supplement?
Would calling vitamin D HORMONE D make you stop and think?
MarketsandMarkets write that the Vitamin D Market is worth 2.5 Billion by 2020. Yes, demand for this sunshine vitamin is high.
We take this vitamin, a hormone – a hormone we know little about like it’s a piece of candy – because
- it’s sold as vitamin
- it’s sold as sunshine vitamin
- the sun makes us happy
- vitamins are harmless?
Yes, I’m telling you vitamin D isn’t a vitamin but rather a hormone – a steroid hormone.
Now, clearly, hormone D doesn’t make cash registers ring. But vitamin D- the sunshine vitamin, now that’s a different story.
Vitamin D is a HORMONE.
Hormone D deficiency and Hormone D supplements
We read everywhere and are told the majority of us are vitamin D deficient. Often the culprit is said to be changes in lifestyle. We live an indoor lifestyle: we work indoor, exercise indoor, and eat indoor, we sleep indoor and shop indoor. This apparently keeps us from catching sufficient amount of sunlight to meet vitamin D demands.
In many this change is heightened by the assumption that the sun is toxic due to its cancerous effects. We are told to not leave the house unless we wear sunblock; more is better. Yet, that the sun and her rays protects from more illness than it creates is ignored, just as the fact that sunblock contains many chemicals that might not be good for us or our environment (Ruszkiewicz et al., 2017; Krause et al., 2012; Latha et al., 2013).
And yes, vitamin D is crucial for health.
We need hormone D to support strong bones and teeth, to ward off heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to support our immune and cardiovascular system, and to strengthen our brain and muscles (Thomas et al., 1998). In addition, these benefits are due to vit D’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Thanks to the sun we’ve gotten vitamin D for centuries, for free.
But where is this sudden said vitamin D deficiency coming from? Is it truly our indoor life? I see plenty of people out in the park, in the pool, swimming in the lakes, biking and picnicking. They clearly can’t be deficient…..and I doubt most of them really layer themselves in unblock.
Hormone D supplements: an invite for an even bigger problem
Of course this is what supplement sellers want us to believe. We are all deficient of this sunshine vitamin. Maybe we don’t know any better as we don’t dig deeper. But what if this deficiency isn’t the real problem? More importantly, what if our solution to our assumed vit D deficiency actually opens a whole new can of worms?
A supplement is never just a supplement:
Many of us don’t know much about how vitamins and minerals work in our body, their interrelationship to one another or what factors influence uptake. We don’t understand their antagonistic and synergistic relationships in our body. How could we, it’s a complicated science.
Plus, it isn’t really communicated to us in a manner that would help us understand these intricate relationships otherwise we would know that in order for the body to properly metabolize vitamin D, we need essential co-factors. These co-factors, for example are magnesium and vitamin A and K.
Supplements, too, have relationships:
Vitamin D, Magnesium, Vitamin A & K
Some of you might know, in case you choose to take a hormone D supplement, that some research suggest we also need vitamin K to support vitamin D uptake (although based on van Ballegooijen et al., 2017) this might be a bit too premature).
Taking vitamin K to support vitamin D uptake (or more precisely take vitamin K to keep calcium IN our bones as it isn’t vitamin K but rather vitamin A that gets the calcium out of the blood and into the bones; vitamin K just keeps it there) might be great. Meanwhile, a vitamin D with vitamin K supplement doesn’t say anything about its effectiveness in reducing fracture and falls. Worse, taken together, at the same time, vitamin D is said to decrease the uptake of vitamin K by up to 50 %. And research has concluded that vitamin K deficiency leads to an increased risk of fractures (Torbergsen et al., 2015), increased inflammation (Shea et al., 2008) and heart disease (DiNicolantonio et al., 2015). This should make sense, as calcium leaches out of our bones into our arteries causing excess calcium in our blood, hypercalcemia.
Now, WHY do you take vitamin D? Does the benefits outweigh the risks?
Yet, only few know to also look for magnesium and vitamin A.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hormone D supplement with vitamin A. Have you?
Perhaps reason being vitamins, A and D along with E and K are fat-soluble and compete for absorption and transport. This perhaps explains why vitamin A supplementation but itself isn’t useful. To the contrary, D. Watts concluded, supplementation of vitamin A will counteract the effects of vitamin E and will eventually produce a vitamin D deficiency. Given these points, supplementing might throw off our body of balance and do more harm than good.
Fact is, vitamins and minerals block or support each other
More importantly, many of us rely on blood tests to determine vitamin D (or hormone D) deficiency. Also, sadly enough, plenty of people supplement, precautiously, without truly knowing if they are hormone D deficient.
But, first thing first. What’s wrong with the blood test? That it might not be reliable (Kennel et al., 2010; Endocrine Society, 2012; G.M. Allen, 2016)!?
More, who says what we are “seeing” based on blood tests as vitamin D deficiency is bad? Don’t forget, an action leads to a reaction!
Hormones and our health
As society, we no longer ask questions. To the contrary, we believe blindly.
We ignore the possibility that we might have had periods of vitamin D deficient for decades. That we go through phases given seasons and subsequent sun exposure.
As a matter of fact, we ignore research. While some studies show a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and disease we know an association is not causation.
More, we believe without questioning. We fail to question if vitamin D supplementation treats or reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis, depression, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis or respiratory tract infections which based on G.M. Allen, 2016 it doesn’t. To the contrary, high doses can actually increase the risk of falls and fractures.
While we trust health messages that vitamin D supplementation reduces illnesses we should ask what such supplement could create.
Is prevention truly better than treatment: Vitamin D supplementation gone wrong?
Due to our health consciousness or desire to prevent illness many of us take a vitamin D / hormone D supplement. Given that we have this assumption, more is better, we prefer high potency supplements. In other words, we eat a strong hormone – many of us on a daily basis.
The aspect that vitamin or hormone D is a strong hormone we ignore or might not even be aware of. After all, vitamins support our health; and vit D makes us happy.
But, per Mildred S. Seelig, excess Vitamin D supplementation drains magnesium status. This has also been published by David Watts, who added, that vitamin D supplementation additionally drains potassium and phosphorus levels.
In addition, a much newer, more recent study throws the question in the room if an increased calcium to magnesium ratio due to a mainly processed food diet (containing very little magnesium) combined with calcium and vitamin D supplementation may have unknown health implications (Rosanoff et al., 2016).
Especially, since magnesium might be more crucial to optimal health than hormone D. One study concluded that magnesium, not vitamin D or calcium are related to Quality of Life (Hashim et al., 2015).
Supplementing with hormone D doesn’t seem to solve the problem but invites illness and disease.
Supplementing with high potency hormone D comes with a few other problems:
Hormone D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored within our body and toxicity is possible, given we
- supplement with hormone D, in excess
- produce it from the sun and
- consume it through food (some food is naturally rich in vitamin D, such as cod liver oil, fatty fish (love sushi?), eggs)
Meanwhile, research has concluded that excess vitamin D intake via supplements can lead to increased calcium build-up in the blood, not bones. Excess calcium build up is called hypercalcaemia (Koul et al., 2011; Tebben et al., 2016). And hypercalcaemia leads to a variety of issues, affecting our kidneys, bones but also digestive system or brain.
High vitamin D supplements are said to lead to vitamin K deficiency which might just contribute to increased inflammation (Shea et al., 2008) which contributes to heart disease (DiNicolantonio et al., 2015).
More, endocrine disorders like primary hyperparathyroidism, malignancies such as hodgkin’s lymphoma and non hodgkin’s lymphoma, granulomatous diseases like sarcoidosis and tuberculosis have also been associated with hypervitaminosis D (Gupta et al., 2014).
At least 300,000 international units or IUs of Vitamin D supplements per year actually increase the risk of falls and fractures.
The typical vitamin D dose is 600 IUs per day, which works out to 219,000 IUs per year.
Hormone D and Magnesium
If excess hormone D, the one we consume through supplements, truly leads to a decrease in magnesium, what are the effects?
Magnesium’s role in our body: (ODS, 2018)
- functions as cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate a variety of biochemical reactions in the body, such as protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation
- enables energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis
- contributes to the structural development of bone
- supports synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione
- plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm
Signs of Magnesium deficiency include: (ODS, 2018; Swaminathan, 2003 )
- loss of appetite
- nausea & vomiting
- fatigue & weakness
Sustained deficiency leads to:
- muscle contractions and cramps
- personality changes
- abnormal heart rhythms & coronary spasms can occur
- neurological manifestations
- and may increases the risk for a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis
Severe magnesium deficiency can result in:
- hypocalcemia (low calcium levels)
- hypokalemia (low potassium levels)
- due to mineral imbalance
By choosing a vitamin D supplement you might just
Trade an assumed Vitamin D deficiency for a Magnesium Deficiency –
What is more important to you?
Consequently, what if vitamin D “deficiency” isn’t a problem after all? What if supplementing with high hormone D leads to a reduction in crucial magnesium levels (among other nutrients)? Worse, what if magnesium is a crucial mineral for optimal health?
Will eating HORMONE D increase our vitamin D levels in our body and solve the assumed deficiency and lead to better health outcomes
will this hormone supplement throw our body further out of balance?
Based on current standing, vitamin D supplementation does not increase vitamin D stores in our body.
Vitamin D: purpose in our body
- get calcium into the blood (although we are always told that vitamin D helps bring calcium into the bones)
- hormone D actually only helps to bring calcium into the blood
- it’s vitamin A who gets calcium into the bones
- and it’s vitamin K2 who keeps it there
- if you believe vitamin D is the cure it’s made out to be please read M. Allen’s review
- what if magnesium is more important to bone health than vitamin D? (Castiglioni et al., 2013)
Fazit: Vitamin D Supplementation – a vicious cycle
Vitamin D supplement is a hormone supplement
We might be jumping the gun if we start taking a high potent hormone without understanding its effect on our body
If we are vitamin D deficient and if this deficiency causes ill health is questionable, so is the question if supplements even increase vitamin d levels in the body
Supplementing with hormone D reduces magnesium in our body, and reduced magnesium throws off homeostasis (balance) and introduces a variety of diseases brought on by magnesium but also vitamin K deficiency
Excess vitamin D reduces vitamin K, meaning calcium leaches from the bones back into our arteries contributing to inflammation and calcification. More, it increases risk of falls and fractures.
Let’s think before we act. Sometimes, being cautious and NOT jumping on the latest bandwagon might be the smartest choice!
What could you do IF supporting your health truly is your goal?
For one, STOP eating hormone D & focus on YOUR health
- spend more time outdoor
- destress stress; live more, relax more, enjoy the moments…find your balance
- consume vitamin D rich food sources which come with many other nutrients in just the right balance
- focus on magnesium rich food given a stressful, fast and processed food diet is low in this mineral
This basically confirms my mantra, real food is medicine!
If you read/speak German, don’t miss this article on magnesium.
Thank you for reading. If you like what you read please feel free to like and share.