Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

April 3, 2018
Vitamin D – the Sunshine Hormone
Vitamin D Hormone

Vitamin D is misnamed. It’s not a vitamin – it’s actually a hormone. It is literally shaped with the same basic steroid hormone frame that comes from cholesterol.

And unless you are a 20-year-old beach volleyball player, you’re probably not getting enough.

You’ve probably heard you get vitamin D from sunlight. What actually happens is that sunlight causes the skin to make the active form of this vitamin D.

However, this does not happen if your skin

  • Has sunscreen on it,
  • Is washed with soap,
  • Is “older”.

You can see how this was a good adaptation long ago, when people spent most of their daytime hours outside, did not bathe regularly, sunscreen did not exist, and most people did not live past the age of fifty.

The skin of a person who is twenty years old makes four times as much Vitamin D as someone who is 70 years old.

In my practice, I have had a total of 2 people in the last three decades who naturally had decent levels of Vitamin D on their lab test – both were fitness trainers, spending most of their time outdoors and not necessarily wearing sunscreen.

Vitamin D supplementAt this point, I think it is necessary to take a Vitamin D supplement in order to have a good level in your body.

The correct blood test to check your vitamin D level is 25-hydroxy-vitamin D. Most labs give a “normal range” starting at 30 ng/ml.  Optimal, however, is over 60 (ng/ml).

It is almost impossible to overdose with Vitamin D. Conventional medical studies recommend doses from 800 to 2000 iu. For my patients to reach optimal levels, though, I recommend either 5000 iu daily (if they prefer the habit) or 50,000 iu per week (if they prefer the convenience). Vitamin D is stored in fat tissue, so it is best taken with food. Time of day doesn’t usually matter, but if you find it helps your sleep, take it with dinner.

The list of health benefits from Vitamin D keeps growing.

So far, it includes:

  • Better bone density
  • Better breast cancer survival
  • Lower incidence of breast cancer
  • Lower incidence of respiratory infections
  • Better immune function
  • Better muscle strength
  • Better blood sugar balance
  • …and many more.

Vitamin D deficiency is considered by many to be an epidemic. Seeing how many important health benefits it has, and how it is almost impossible to overdose on it, taking a Vitamin D supplement should be part of everyone’s supplement regimen.