Few people are aware of the relationship between vitamin d and cholesterol, but it’s an important one and it shouldn’t be ignored. Although it’s called a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone and a deficiency of it can be life threatening!
It’s Actually a Hormone
Vitamin d refers to a number of is a fat soluble steroid molecules that are involved in the absorption of important minerals in your intestinal tract.
The two most important factors are:
vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
It’s also called the “sunshine vitamin” because it can be bio synthesized in your body when your skin is exposed to natural sunlight. This is especially important to people of African ancestry that live in temperate climates that have long winters.
Since their darker skin pigmentation filters out some of the suns rays, they are at increased risk of deficiency because of their skin filtering out natural sunlight (especially during long winters.)
For black people, supplements are a MUST! It appears that pretty much every disease that people of African descent suffer from disproportionately is linked with vitamin d deficiency. This is not widely known, but can still cause lots of health problems that could be avoided with wise use of supplementation.
The Cholesterol Connection
The human body is amazingly resourceful at bio synthesizing what it needs from what we put into our bodies. Thus when we have a deficiency of vitamin d the body will make it from cholesterol. This can cause your cholesterol levels to rise, because your body needs the extra cholesterol in order to synthesize this vitamin/hormone.
You have read in this blog that lowering cholesterol is not necessarily needed to prevent heart disease because it has been found not to be a direct causative factor. However if your cholesterol levels are elevated because of a lack of vitamin d then you need to take steps to supply your body with this nutrient by getting more sun exposure and taking supplements when you can’t get enough sun, such as in the winter.
Elevated cholesterol levels can indicate other problems in your body that you need to address. This is another reason why statin use can be problematic. It can mask the symptom (elevated cholesterol) that is being caused by another problem (like vitamin d deficiency).
Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
- increased risk of heart attack and stroke
- Parkinson’s Disease
- increased risk of cancer
- increased risk of infection
- increased risk of multiple sclerosis
Some Food Sources of Vitamin D
- Cod liver oil
- Butter from grass fed cows
- Beef or Calves liver
- Egg yolks
- Water packed tuna
- Oil packed sardines
Supplementing Vitamin D
Supplementary forms of this vitamin can be found in any health food store. My favorite is Jarrow Formulas D3. I opt for 5,000 units per day in the winter and half that dosage in the summer. It is difficult to overdose on this vitamin, as long as you are not using a synthetic version of it.
The ideal situation is that you get your levels tested by a doctor and do follow ups until the levels are where they are supposed to be. This is a fat soluble vitamin and so should be taken with a meal that contains healthy fats.
Vitamin k2 should be taken with vitamin d as those two nutrients work togegher to ewnsure that your body handles calcium properly. One of the top experts on vitamin K2 Dr. Rheaume Bleue suggests a ratio of 100-200 micrograms of K2 for every 1,000 IUs of vitamin d. Again I would go with Jarrow Formulas MK-7, combined with their D3 product.
Sun Expose is Healthy
It’s been said before, but bears repeating…sun exposure is HEALTHY! Human beings evolved on the surface of the Earth. We NEED sun exposure in order for out bodies to function properly. Don’t avoid getting sunlight, because if you do, you are undermining your health in a critical way.
Use common sense of course. Don’t overdo it, as too much of anything can be a problem, but remember that getting out in the sun and fresh air has benefits that go far beyond making you feel good and improving your mood.
How Much Sun Exposure?
This depends on how dark your skin is. Light skinned people should avoid prolonged exposure such as beyond 10-15 minutes in the sun. Darker skinned people of course can tolerate longer exposure, but you should be conservative with your time in the sun and gradually build a tolerance to sun exposure over time as you get more tanned.
Wearing a wide brim hat, proper sunglasses, and long sleeve clothing can help protect you as well. Remember also that you can get burned even on a hazy day because enough of the suns rays still get through and you may not be aware of how long you have been exposed.
Remember also that sunblock will prevent your body from making the vitamin d it needs from sun exposure, so If you are using sun screens on your skin you are defeating the purpose of getting sunlight.