Essential Supplements – Vitamin D – Part 3

Vitamin D


This article has been written for Canadian Physique Alliance -May/June 2024 Edition

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Hello and happy springtime to everyone, I trust you all made it through our very long and daunting winter with flying colors. Did you experience any challenges over the extreme cold snap? Oh man, we did, astronomical challenge. When we are faced with extreme challenges, what we do with it, and how we face it, and overcome, defines us. If you’re familiar with my writing, you understand, I’m all about facing the dragon.

Taking on the challenge to be better, prepared, sharper, and seeking higher standards. We learn about ourselves in the face of challenges. So, if we can protect our bodies, health, longevity, and immune system while we face physically, mentally, and emotionally draining challenges… Which dovetails into today’s article.

Today the final article, to my three part, essential Supplement series. Yes of course there are more than three essential supplements. In previous articles I have covered several many supplements. Briefly, landing on these three, but not at great depth, and I feel these three are often misunderstood, and in many cases simply overlooked. In part one, we discussed iodine, in part two magnesium. So here today, rounding it out, I will unpack vitamin D, one of our most critical vitamins, for overarching components of health, healing, longevity, performance, and recovery. Did you know that vitamin D is one of if not the most important vitamins for immune system protection, boosting, and maintenance?

All About Vitamin D

With that being said, do you also know that we as a society, are majority deficient in vitamin D, and by a hugely increasing margin; affecting more people than ever, especially in colder, less temperate sunny climates. The top leading causes of death in North America are cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, and related comorbidities. These alone claimed 1.2 million lives per year 2020, 2021 and 2022. That’s 4.6 million people, and it turns out that vitamin D directly impacts the human body’s biological systems that affect the leading causes of death in North America.

In turn, our longevity, and our overall health, vitality, performance, and recovery. To be perfectly clear; Vitamin D, from a health based probability standpoint influences our long or short lives.

So as I mentioned earlier, colder less temperate climates, with less sun, impact vitamin D deficiency. However, If you live in the sun, and you freely expose yourself to it, as you get older, your skin becomes less capable on a cutaneous level to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. That’s right your receptivity down regulates with age. For the rest of us folk who don’t live in sunny places between October to March BRRRRR! you see my point.

So, what about all you folks out there who avoid the sun? Sun hats, long clothing, even using sunblocks, for all your personal reasons that you do so, yes your UVB relationship to vitamin D synthesis is lacking. Air pollution and buildings in cities also block UVB exposure. Another interesting fact, being overweight, leads to vitamin D deficiency. You could be taking vitamin D, but vitamin D is a fat, soluble vitamin. If you have excessive body fat, are overweight, It can be stored and trapped in your fat cells, making you deficient.

Not getting to its destination of every other biological function in the body, which there are a vast number of, and greatly reliant on vitamin D. Ultimately, the vitamin D you take because of its fat solubility unless you’re eating it or taking it with a direct effective fat source. It won’t get past your liver, for those who are overweight and obese the liver holds a fast amount of hepatic fat. But if it makes it past your liver, intercellular, interstitial and subcutaneous fat welcome it before it gets anywhere else needed.

man yogaYou see we have vitamin D, receptors in everything from our liver cells to our brain cells to muscle cells, immune cells, and everything in between, so when I say this is essential it’s putting it very simply. From the immune system to hormones, and ailments like Crohn’s disease, IBS, autoimmune diseases, get huge benefit from simply the addition of a vitamin D supplement. I could go on a lot about other areas because there are so many, that vitamin D has a relationship to benefit in our biological systems. But I thought something more familiar, that we can all relate to, would be most effective in painting this picture.

A recent study published in the NFS journal, relating to long Covid patients and severe COVID-19 impact symptoms. Details that the people studied with long Covid, and who had strongly impacting Covid symptoms, hospitalized with one or more of the leading comorbidities mentioned above, were not just marginally, but severely vitamin D deficient. This number was 100% in all critically ill individuals. When we get sick, our immune system requires a huge amount of vitamin D turnover to produce immune cells necessary to fight illness, or infection. So if we’re already deficit, that means we are at rock-bottom when we get sick.

For the athlete, think about training, and how that is affecting your immune system, that stress that onslaught of physically and mentally laborious activity. We know that when we get sick, we shouldn’t train with intensity, or too much other than active recovery, because it draws our immune system down even further. Yes active recovery is good because our lymphatic system is valved and we need to move to have lymph fluid circulate around our body, with NK T and B cells, lymphocytes. But intense training crushes your struggling immune system from fighting cold, virus, or infection.

So now relate these friends to the need we have for recovery from training, when we have a lot of food we’re doing not much cardio, not sick. Don’t many of us focus much of our time and effort on recovery to grow, develop, heal progress? I should hope so. Now think of competition prep where the immune system is really challenged. We are on limited and decreasing amounts of food, increasing amounts of cardio, training multiple days a week without a day off. Our immune system is in effect being pounded on and needing to produce greater defence cells, therefore, requiring a greater amount of vitamin D, to stay at a positive turnover rate, armouring the body.

Remember there’s a difference between being overly insufficient, and optimizing health, performance and recovery. So when you get your physical, your doctor will test you for overt vitamin D deficiency, not optimal levels, so ask your doctor if you’re above 40 ng / ML. I must remind you all, vitamin D deficiency increases with age. This is especially important for all of you out there over 60.

Circling us back, to the NFS journal COVID-19, vitamin D, comorbidity study. Patients with one or more comorbidities as I mentioned above, were directly associated with vitamin D status. In the insufficient group below 20 ng / ML, 80+ percent had one or more of these comorbidities. Compared to the group hospitalized that had vitamin D levels above 30+ ng/ML, the comorbidities were less than 18%!

The case for vitamin D, an essential part of our daily nutritional intake, is astronomically in the positive. I have been recommending vitamin D to clients for 20 years. However, there are a few things that we need to be aware of to utilize vitamin D’s bioavailability. Remember that magnesium, from my previous article, needs vitamin D, and therefore lowering your levels of vitamin D. So taking only the RDA of vitamin D is going to leave people at a bare minimum, more than marginal deficiency. Vitamin D is fat soluble that means for our bodies to utilize vitamin D it must synthesize with a good fat. Not fats partially hydrogenated, trans, oxidized vegetable seed oil, fats.

If you’re all wondering about amounts, this is largely individual with some overarching similarities, depending on person, activity, level, life, design, and area of residence. I encourage each one of you readers, friends, followers, clients, athletes and our beloved elders; take vitamin D as seriously as your magnesium and iodine efficiency is. I’m always pleased to see how many questions you all send in my inbox. Feel free to inquire further about vitamin D.

For each of us on this journey, I believe that optimizing our health, vitality, longevity, performance, and recovery is key to Living a good life.

Not just meeting the bare minimum standards, not just periodically utilizing tactics and strategies to help us out in a jam. Like “oh we’re sick”, What do we do now? Instead of protecting our body to ameliorate sickness potential. Keep our self running at the most optimal levels of vitality, performance and recovery we possibly can.

So to each of you I wish nothing but health, well-being and all the blessings you deserve. As I continue my mission to help as many people as I’m capable of helping, I trust that this article finds you well on your way to seeking a higher standard daily, and applying and introducing the information and strategies to suit your needs.