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Natural Ways to Fix A Vitamin D Deficiency
It might come at a shock, but I do NOT recommend vitamin D supplements. Most of my readers know at this point how I feel about blind supplementation with vitamin D. Vitamin D is a hormone and there is a huge reason why it is not abundant in food- we are NOT supposed to eat it in high doses! We aren’t meant to eat hormones- we are meant to eat the building blocks to these hormones, which includes minerals, fat and cholesterol. There are NATURAL ways to fix a vitamin D deficiency that does not involve synthetic supplements.
We are meant to get D from the sun and in small amounts from food. Period. You CANNOT bottle sunshine and I find it preposterous that this supplementing fad has continued for so long.
True, a lot of people find benefit when they first start supplementing vitamin D, or any other isolated nutrient. It doesn’t always take long to correct a deficiency this way, but the problem is that even more imbalances are created this way. Don’t believe me? Check out my post on nutrient interactions! Isolated, synthetic vitamin D makes us absorb calcium in all the wrong places, it is hard on our liver and kidneys, it destroys vitamin A stores, as well as potassium and magnesium. Nearly everyone that I come across that has used D in the past has extremely low potassium and magnesium on their HTMA tests.
Too much isolated D can lead to adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders, renal failure, insomnia, kidney stones, and even hospitalization. Yes, hospitalization! I know of more than a dozen people that started isolated D (per their doctor’s advice) and ended up in the hospital because of life-threateningly low potassium, high blood pressure, or other side effects.
***For pregnant mamas: I have also learned that too much supplemental vitamin D can cause calcification of the placenta- this is so dangerous! A midwife was realizing this trend with many of her clients after this recommendation became mainstream. If you are pregnant and you’ve been told to supplement isolated D, please stop. Read below on how to really raise vitamin D.***
Using synthetic, isolated nutrients should be looked at like drugs. They are not the way that the body is supposed to get nutrients, so usage of them should be careful and thoroughly researched.
How to REALLY raise Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is a truly crucial hormone. Vitamin D deficiency signs include chronic infections, muscle weakness, diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, tooth decay, cancer, depression, and anxiety.
We need magnesium, boron, and K2 to properly utilize Vitamin D. Adding vitamin D to your body without these nutrients is like pouring gas in a car without starting it and expecting it to go. Cholesterol (which 75% of it is made in the body) is also needed for vitamin D usage.
Magnesium is a co-factor that is required for the binding of vitamin-D to its transport protein. You’ll get K2 by consuming dairy from grass-fed ruminants, eggs, liver, beef and chicken. K2 helps utilize Vitamin D and protects from toxicity if you have used or are using vitamin D supplementation. Boron is an important co-factor of magnesium, and is important for calcium regulation, which all ties into vitamin D usage.
From this article from WAPF, “Vitamin D raises the requirement for vitamins A and K. Vitamin D should be taken by mothers or given to infants in the form of cod liver oil, and mothers should consume a diet rich in grass-fed butterfat, cheese, fermented foods, bone broths and grass-fed organ meats to supply vitamin D in a way that is safest and most effective.”
Cod liver oil is one of the oldest supplements around. Luckily, they’ve managed to make it taste a little better now! Some good cod liver oil brands are Rosita’s, NutraPro, and Nordic Naturals (without the added D!) Get a breakdown of these CLOs here.
Safe sun exposure, cod liver oil, magnesium, healing your liver and kidneys, working on underlying infections, healing inflammation, and balancing minerals will be the big keys for fixing a true D deficiency. Especially when it comes to infants, we have to be cautious when using synthetic supplements.
By the way, lanolin is a no-go either. Fish oil (ideally) should be coming straight from the fish to the bottle, but lanolin goes through a chemical transformation including radiation to make it into “D3”. Not everything that claims to be natural is really natural!
Foods Naturally High In Vitamin D (source):
- Shiitake and button mushrooms- as long as they are dried in the sun, and not artificial light
- Sockeye Salmon
- Cod liver oil (for those that will not touch the suggestions above!)
- Eggs- One egg has about 10% DV of Vitamin D
Getting Vitamin D from the Sun (like we are supposed to!)
We have been scared off of the sun because it “causes cancer” and then told to take isolated D supplementation to make up for this fear. HELLO?! Where is the logic in that? How have humans (and animals) been getting vitamin D since the beginning of time if not the cancer-causing sun? Safe sun exposure is the absolute IDEAL way to get sun. If you are prone to burning easily, that is a HUGE sign that you have internal inflammation and a fatty acid deficiency. I’ll make a post on that later.
Ultraviolet B rays from the sun converts 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3, and then it becomes vitamin D3. The amount of D3 created depends on length of exposure, skin color (lighter skin tones need less time in the sun, darker ones need more), season, smog, and place where you live. It is possible to still get decent sun exposure in the far north in the Spring, summer and fall, which would only leave a few months to not be exposed. Sunscreens of an SPF of 8 or more will block the ability to create Vitamin D.
The D3 created from the sun is converted into vitamin D sulfate, unlike synthetic forms of D. Sulfate is a very crucial nutrient that many people are deficient in both because it is depleted from our food and because of our lack of sun exposure. This mineral is actually found in all of the cells and tissue of our bodies- it is THAT important! Sulfur is needed for collagen formation, and protein synthesis. It helps the health of our skin, hair and nails as well, plus it is essential for many enzyme reactions, cell health, brain health, and joint health. Sulfur is also one of the most important minerals for detoxification! So the sun has more benefit than we truly know.
Being smart about sun exposure is important too. If it is 100 degrees outside and you know you are going to be outside for hours, allow yourself only a few minutes of sun exposure and then use a SAFE sunscreen ( I’m not talking about Coppertone here people- look into Poofy Organics brand!), get in the shade, use hats, or even use SPF clothing. You only need enough exposure to make your skin a little pink, usually about 10-15 minutes. Your skin can only absorb so much at once, which is why people burn- that means you have gone over your limit!
Some say the best time to get sun is between 10AM and 2PM. This is when UVB rays are more powerful so you wouldn’t need to sit out as long to get your appropriate shade of pink.
The most common question about this issue”But I live in a place with barely any sun!” Well guess what? So did your ancestors then! They depended on food sources, and their liver and kidneys to convert and utilize vitamin D correctly. They did not need synthetic, lab made supplements to fill in the gaps for any nutrient.
Testing for Vitamin D Deficiency
Testing is key to fixing ANY nutritional deficiency. We cannot merely go off of symptoms. I am definitely one to extol the virtues of magnesium, but now that I understand its relationship with other minerals, I would *never* tell anyone to try it without testing first. Hair tissue mineral analysis is a great first step to assess your personal mineral status- we are ALL DIFFERENT. I cannot stress that enough- we will all have different triggers to illness and different levels of deficiencies and we need different approaches to healing.
Blood tests for vitamin D include the active and storage forms. If your doc only tested one form and told you to supplement, get your butt back there and demand the other test! If your doc could care less about real nutrition, then you can order them yourself! You want both the Vitamin D 1,25 Dihydroxy (Calcitrol) (Active) and Vitamin D 25-Hydroxy (Storage). Ideal Calcitriol is no more than 45; ideal storage D should be no more than 30; and magnesium RBC should be around 6.
This short video has a good explanation on why we NEED both levels of vitamin D testing to determine the issue, and why it’s not just about taking D supplemention.
Also, another interesting tidbit from this article:
“Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) is the active hormone that binds to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in the cell nucleus. Once calcitriol binds to the VDR, the Vitamin A (retinol) receptor (RXRA and RXRB) is involved in activation of the VDR targets. Hence, Vitamin D and Vitamin A are truly joined at the hip, so to speak.”
It’s never just about ONE nutrient. Also, Lyme, EBV, Wifi, and many other things can influence VDR and vitamin D status. Work on these FIRST before jumping into isolated vitamin D! Low vitamin D is often a result of these issues, not the cause of them.