Vitamin D: The Happy Hormone
Vitamin D: The Happy Hormone
We’ve been heard that Vitamin D is a vitamin that is good for our bones, but it is really a compound that when activated by the UVB rays from the sun creates a biochemical reaction that converts it to an active compound that activates more than 900 genes, namely it activates our DNA.
What makes vitamin D unique compared to other vitamins, is that when your body gets its vitamin D, it turns vitamin D into a hormone like compound. This hormone like compound is sometimes called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.” So we can say it is plays a role as a vitamin and a hormone.
#2 How Does the Sun Give Us Vitamin D?
While the sun does not provide vitamin D directly, standing in the sun for ten minutes every day can help your body meet its needs for the vitamin. How does it happen?
The Ultraviolet B rays from the sun convert a natural vitamin D precursor present in your skin, into vitamin D3. This travels to the liver where the addition of oxygen and hydrogen to vitamin D3 changes it into an intermediate. This intermediate which by the way is still in its inactive form is present in the red blood cells and is used to determine your vitamin D status. The final activation of this takes place in the kidneys, where more oxygen and hydrogen molecules attach and convert it into its active form known as 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D, or calcitriol. As you see it is quite an elaborate process that starts in one place, your skin, and finishes in the kidneys. This is why vitamin D is sometimes called a hormone.
#3 Which Form of Vitamin D is most Effective?
So which form of vitamin D has been shown to be most effective in raising Vitamin D levels in the blood? You guessed it, Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 also known as cholecalciferol, is the most biologically active form of vitamin D found in humans and animals. A study published this year from the University of Surrey, using low doses of vitamin D2 and D3 in that vitamin D3 was twice as effective in raising levels of the vitamin in the body than its counterpart D2. Vitamin D levels in women who received vitamin D3 via juice or a biscuit increased by 75 per cent and 74 per cent respectively compared to those who were given D2 through the same methods. Those given D2 saw an increase of 33 per cent and 34 per cent over the course of the 12-week intervention.
Eating foods that naturally contain vitamin D including eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil, ensures intake of amounts of this essential nutrient. Fortified foods such as milk and dairy products, soy milk, breads, breakfast cereals and some varieties of orange juice are also good sources of vitamin D providing they contain D3.
#4 Vitamin D and Your Gut
Besides enabling normal mineralization of bones, vitamin D modulates cell growth, supports the immune system and reduces inflammation. According to the University of North Carolina, vitamin D plays an important role in digestion.
Cells in your digestive system have vitamin D receptors called VDR that are needed for protein synthesis.Vitamin D receptors are found on the surface of a cell where they receive chemical signals. By attaching themselves to a receptor, these chemical signals direct a cell to do something, for example, to act in a certain way, or to divide or die. There are vitamin D receptors found on cells in the digestive tract and the immune system, and vitamin D can bind to these receptors. The most common symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include rickets, osteoporosis and skeletal deformities, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D plays a role in preventing prostate, colon and breast cancers. It also may contribute to the prevention of diabetes, glucose intolerance and hypertension.
Most fascinating to me is to know that it helps keep the integrity of the gut lining. It increases diversity and helps with maintaining the integrity of the lining. Remember the lining of the gut has tight junctions..and we want to keep them tight. VD may help with that by working with barrier function.
#5 Vitamin D Can Benefit Your Brain
Science also tells us that low levels correlate with parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, alzheimer’s and cognitive dysfunctions. Is it the brain or the brain communicating with the gut? Most likely it is because of the connection between the gut brain axis. Vitamin D is important for brain because of its importance in regulating and maintaining to diversity in the gut..and helps with the gut not breaking down.
Remember it activates 900 genes, our DNA, and helps fight preventing cancer, inflammation and cognitive issues like dementia and Alzheimers.
Vitamin D helps the brain clear plaque. Plague, a toxic protein-like compound, accumulation has been linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin D affects intestinal bacteria and the production of B vitamins which in turn affects the brain’s neurotransmitter synthesis.
Vitamin D deficiency leads to a change in the intestinal bacterial populations that make and supply us daily with eight B vitamins. The B vitamins never came from the food, they have always been supplied in the daily doses we need by the bacteria we carried in our intestine. But the “healthy” bacteria need our vitamin D to thrive, so when we don’t have enough to pass down to the good bacteria they die off and are replaced by the “unhealthy” bacteria who don’t make B vitamins. So vitamin D deficiency usually exists along side of additional B vitamin deficiencies.
So if you don’t have the guts to be happy especially during the winter months when the sunlight is not so available…you might want to get your levels checked.
There is no need to go run out and start taking Vitamin D without first accessing your levels. Many of the listeners probably already know if they are low in Vitamin D. It is just something to think about.
As we move out of all and into winter, it’s a good time to have your vitamin D level checked by a simple blood test. A normal 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test will register above 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Previously it was thought that levels 21 and below needed treatment, though more recently anything below 35 is addressed by many forward thinking practitioners. Using these levels, it is estimated that one billion people are deficient in vitamin D.
#6 Research has shown that D helps the brain clear debris
“A new animal study from Japan suggests that vitamin D may help clear the brain of amyloid beta, a toxic protein-like compound that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
This animal study validates the results of a previous study done in human Alzheimer’s patients. In the human study, vitamin D together with curcumin — a chemical found in turmeric spice — appeared to stimulate the immune system in a way that helped clear the brain of toxic amyloid beta. But this new animal research suggests that vitamin D alone may be able to do that job nicely. Even more amazing, the lab animals that received vitamin D were able to remove a significant amount of amyloid beta buildup in their brains, literally overnight. It seems the vitamin may somehow regulate production of transporter proteins that ferry amyloid beta across the blood-brain barrier and out of the brain.” Pretty exciting stuff.
#7 Vitamin D Affects our Neurotransmitter Synthesis.
Vitamin D deficiency leads to a change in the intestinal bacterial populations that make and supply us daily with 8 B vitamins. The B vitamins never came from the food, they have always been supplied in the daily doses we need by the bacteria we carried in our intestine. But the “healthy” bacteria need our vitamin D to thrive, so when we don’t have enough to pass down to the good bacteria they die off and are replaced by the “unhealthy” bacteria who don’t make B vitamins. So vitamin D deficiency usually exists along side of additional B vitamin deficiencies.
#8 So What if You are Vitamin D Deficient?
With regard to the GI tract, deficiency can affect it in many ways. There are D receptors in our salivary glands, our teeth (we get more cavities if our vitamin D is low), our esophageal sphincter, and the stomach cells that make stomach acid. When the stomach sphincter is weak the acid moves up into the esophagus, where it doesn’t belong, causing “acid reflux”. The Vitamin D we make on our skin goes to the liver, then into bile, keeping the bile acids dissolved, preventing the formation of gallstones. So gallbladder disease is probably related to low vitamin D. Because there are D receptors in the islet cells of the pancreas which make insulin, not enough D may also contribute to the formation of diabetes. Low D results in a change in the intestinal bacteria, so irritable bowel symptoms of bloating, constipation and diarrhea begin. Also, when the normal “healthy”, bacteria leave there is no bacterial source of B5. B5 is needed to make cortisol so our ability to heal and to fight infection are no longer normal. The white blood cells become lazy or too aggressive and we start to develop a “pro-inflammatory state” that can turn into an autoimmune disorder or increase our risk of heart attack and stroke. So if you don’t have the guts to be happy especially during the winter months when the sunlight is not so available…you might want to get your levels checked.
#9 Eight Facts About Vitamin D
- The healing properties of natural sunlight CANNOT penetrate glass. Glass allows UVA to burn the skin, but not the UVB that is needed to convert dehydrocholesterol on the skin. So, you must go outside.
- If you have dark skin, you’ll need about 25 times more exposure time as a light skinned individual to produce the same amount of vitamin D. As mentioned, fair light skinned people get 10,000 IU of Vitamin D with 10 minute exposure in the sun.
- Your body cannot absorb calcium without enough vitamin D. You can take all the calcium you want, but will receive no benefit unless vitamin D is present.
- A vitamin D deficiency is not reversed immediately. You’re looking at months of sunlight and/or supplements before levels return to normal.
- Your kidneys and liver activate vitamin D. Having kidney disease or a damaged liver will hinder the ability to activate vitamin D when needed.
- Eating foods that naturally contain vitamin D including eggs, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil, ensures intake of amounts of this essential nutrient. Fortified foods such as milk and dairy products, soy milk, breads, breakfast cereals and some varieties of orange juice are also good sources of vitamin D.
- Sunscreens — from the strongest to the weakest — prohibit the body from making vitamin D by 95 percent. In light of this, there is a theory that more individuals are depressed these days because EVERYONE uses sunscreen and they’re not taking vitamin D supplements.
- Keep in mind that D3 cholecalciferol is more potent than D2 ergocalciferol when it comes to raising our levels.