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What you need to know to assess 'vitamin' D more thoroughly

First off, let me be clear, the primary source of vitamin D is the sun, and it is found naturally in very few whole foods, foods that are naturally exposed to the sun. Sunlight and vitamin D are not the same thing


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The real problem is that more and more people are spending time indoors AWAY from the sun. Not to mention, slather their bodies with sunscreen when outdoors and this blocks them from making the sun to skin process that creates vitamin D in the body. 

Get nerdy and check out this conversation with Kris Kross of EMRTEK about these very problems and the added challenge with our exposure to blue light. 

It's important to understand that Vitamin D is made in our bodies by a step by step conversion process. It's not a vitamin we get from food as our primary source of it for human health.

We CAN choose to consume these foods in the winter if we live in a northern latitude. Foods such as, raw milk, butter from grass fed cows, organic lard, wild caught fatty fish like salmon and cod liver oil. Foods artificially supplemented with vitamin D are not the answer because they don't contain cholesterol sulfate (see image below).

'Vitamin' D is also a pro-hormone to vitamin conversion in the body. This distinction is important so the average person doesn't assume it's something to run out and supplement with from a bottle. The way the body responds to a supplement is not the same as how it responds to source: sunshine on exposed skin with no barriers (such as clothes or sunscreen). 

We need to be thinking about how the body creates it (from sun exposure), uses it actively and stores it when necessary and what other factors play a role in it's function and use by the human body. Vitamin D is a Hormone NOT a Vitamin. So let's call it the sunshine-hormone-vitamin! 


First we get in the sun, the sun's rays penetrate through the skin and under our skin. Then cholesterol gets converted into cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) the fat storage form, provitamin D. 

Then in the liver this provitamin D, cholecalciferol gets converted into calcidiol, the main circulating form of D, which is water soluble. 

Then, in the kidney, the calciderol gets converted into calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D. 

Calcitriol is a steroid-like hormone that interacts with the vitamin D receptors in target tissues: including the small intestine (to increase calcium resorption), osteoblasts in bone (to increase bone calcium absorption), in the renal tubular cells in the kidneys (to increase their calcium resorption).

All of those interactions and conversions can only happen when the body has enough magnesium available. 

That shared...

You must TEST first before EVER supplementing with straight vitamin D. Supplementing with vitamin D bypasses the conversion process in the body, plus all the other benefits human receive from exposure to the sun. 

What happens if we take too much supplemental Vitamin D?
Cholecalciferol, or activated vitamin D3, when supplemented alone long term can cause a life-threateningly high calcium and phosphorus level in the body, resulting in severe, acute kidney failure, cardiovascular abnormalities, and tissue mineralization. This can progress to life-threatening disease.
Testing just your storage D [ 25 (OH)D ]  is not always enough info. to go on, it really tells you noting. YES, even when it's low. And low, may not be what you think or what your doctor thinks either. This is usually the ONLY marker your doctor will test to assess your vitamin D levels. 

It's like knowing your savings account is low but then skipping tracking your daily spending, tracking your bills and monitoring your checking account. Or knowing how to bring in more money. Just knowing one number of what is stored misses the current actual daily picture of use and function. It's not a thorough assessment. 
If you test for vitamin D status you also need to know your active D level [1,25(OH)2D ]. This is the biologically active form. Unfortunately, these are currently the only two forms of 'vitamin' D that are tested. There are actually MORE than 12 different types of D, however none of them are test and most doctors do not even know that they exist. Nor will they talk about how vitamin D metabolism works through sun exposure. You also need to know your mineral status (via HTMA) or at the very least an RBC magnesium level.  Vitamin D does not work on it's own. It's not a solo superhero nutrient the way you've heard it talked about in isolation. 

If your doctor is not testing in a more thorough way  and insisting you take vitamin D to push your levels beyond 40 ng/mL, hand them this article and insist they read it. 

Also, remember it's YOUR body you must give your own consent and it's okay to ask questions and get a second opinion. The reason this is such a big deal is because when vitamin D is supplemented in any significant dose apart from a food based lower dose product, it's now become a drug. A drug is not the whole complex of the original natural form. A vitamin as a drug has side effects because it bypasses the root and the body chemistry. 

Vitamin D deficiency or magnesium deficiency?

Vitamin D metabolism doesn't work properly without enough magnesium on board. With a sufficient amount of magnesium the body will be able to absorb enough natural 'D' from the sun. That's the only way to get ALL the forms of vitamin D available. 

Magnesium is required for many steps along the pathway of vitamin D metabolism, including transformation of vitamin D from it's storage form (also the supplement form) to it's active form. That means if you take high doses of supplemental D you can drive yourself into magnesium deficiency and not know it, because your doctor is not testing that for one thing. 

Read more: How to get magnesium right from the start

Takeaway: "Vitamin" D needs enough magnesium in order to convert into it's active form for use. It's crucial to focus on restoring magnesium levels FIRST and testing more fully before ever taking a vitamin D supplement.

If you are gonna take vitamin D anyway, make sure it's not more than 1000 -2000 IU. Be sure to test, retest, reassess and get the fuller picture put into place so you don't imbalance your biochemistry further. (By the way, I haven't even addressed the calcium piece yet). 

I can help you balance your biochemistry and dig deeper into your health puzzle!

If you are ready to get clearer answers on how to support your own health and your body so you can make the right supplement and lifestyle changes: I invite you to sign up to work with me as a client through HTMA. You can get all the information as well as sign up on my Work With Me page HERE. 

If you are a holistic health practitioner and would like to learn more about minerals and how to integrate HTMA into your holistic health practice - you can learn more about my program: The HTMA Practitioner Jumpstart right HERE

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