Are you Vitamin-D deficient or suspecting that you are based on your symptoms? Then you may be one of the 94% of people like I was two years ago.
It is a shocking statistics. It is rampant. While it is easy to ignore the subtle symptoms of Vit-D deficiency for one reason or another, If not treated, it can lead to life-threatening conditions.
Research on Vitamin-D and its association with human health has evolved over 200 years and scientists have connected it to around 200 diseases. One’s known for bones health, this misnamed vitamin (which actually works as a hormone) has been branched out to a serious health threat. Research links every cell of our body has Vit-D receptor. That makes easy to comprehend how a mess up of Vit-D level can relate your overall health. So treating D-deficiency carries the potential to empower overall health.
The good news is the D-deficiency level could be overhauled.
This blog will be about how I treated Vitamin-D deficiency from a single digit deficiency level of 4ng/ mL (severe deficiency) to 25.7 ng/ mL (normal as per my doctor, though 30ng/mL is the official requirement).
This post will cover the factors that assisted the uplifting of D-nutrient.
Sunlight-Why and how to maximize Vit-D and minimize sunburn (no sunscreen)?
Supplements-Can it replaces sunlight production of Vitamin- D?
Regular exercise- Is it a must?
The Sperti Vitamin D Light Therapy Lamp
Foods that increase Vitamin-D (Next post)
Sunlight- Why and How to Maximize Vit-D and Minimize Sunburn?
Natural sunlight is the major source of treating Vitamin-D insufficiency. It is abundant and free for all. It is a big piece of good news to the world. No doctor is needed and the treatment is really simple. Stand in the direct sunlight with a bare body for few minutes (15-30 min). Just do it 2-3 times a week. You have all the vitamin-D you need. No overdosing that you have to worry about. There is an enormous health benefit of direct sunlight exposure.
Apart from Vit-D production, sunlight is responsible and beneficial for many other functions.
- Mood enhancement
- Cardiac rhythm (sleep cycle)
- Mental and eye health
- Reduced risk of auto-immune diseases
- Vascular relaxation
- Improved wound healing
- The beneficial effect on the nervous system
- Maintain skeletal health
- Help protect from cancer and cardiovascular health.
With the current statistics of Vitamin-D deficiency, it seems people don’t take advantage of the sunlight although it comes with a multitude of benefits.
Why is the D-deficiency and with so many of us?
It is not always a clear bright sunny day throughout the year when we live. Our civilization and culture are shifting more to an indoor environment, even the sports are played indoors. In a good sunny day, we use sunscreen to protect us from the sunlight of course for reasons. The cons of direct sun exposure risks are
- Untimely skin aging and wrinkling
- Melanoma skin cancer (the major type of skin cancer)
- Eye diseases like cancer, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration.
These concerns scare away people from sunlight or they use sunscreen when outing or getting their sun exposure. There are several kinds of sunscreens with different Sun Protection Factors (SPF made up of different chemicals and inorganic minerals). Talk to your doctor to advise you some.
But because of the chemical nature of the sunscreen, I personally did not opt for them. Even the so-called organic sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide did not pass my test.
Aren’t we convinced that the benefits of sun exposure outweigh risk and sensible sun exposure will help alleviate the problems? In fact many that is what the health professionals recommend. How do we do that?
I refrained myself from chemically synthesized sun blockers but optimized my sun exposure to alleviate the cons. Here is what I did instead.
Maximize Vit-D formation and Minimize Sunburns and Wrinkling
Here is the little graphic I made to demonstrate you how to maximize Vit-D formation with minimum sun exposure via repeated sun exposure.
The rationale is Vitamin-D is still being produced during this resting time. Every time I come back I expose a different part of the body. The yellow part represents sun exposure, and the dark gray part is the breakout time. Getting in and out of the sun does not disrupt Vitamin-D3 formation. However, it helps alleviate the cons of continuous sun exposure, not getting sunburns and wrinkling. The most important aspect of this variation is it works. It cleared off my white sports resulted from D-deficiency.
This how I do it. I use my deck for sun exposure. After the exposure, I open the interconnecting door to inside the house and get inside and then come back. Find yourself a place of this kind for sunlight treatment.
- I cover my head (very small portion compared to the rest of the body) and eyes to save them from indicated diseases.
- The ideal time is when your own shadow is bigger than your actual height. One can use Vit-D App or other websites to find the timing of exposure.
- It is ideal that the sun exposure for Vitamin-D may not follow a showering particularly with soap, which washes away Vitamin-D from the skin which is still on the process of being made. It is preferred to sun bask after a shower. It typically takes 2-3 days for Vit-D to be completely absorbed. So leave your body as long as you can before taking a shower. I take shower every day.
- Typically, I dress down to expose 70-75% of the body to clear sunlight for 25-30 min, 3 times/ per week. On a cloudy day, 87% percent of the UV rays penetrate through the skin.
- Read UV index of the area you live my entering the Zip code in your phone. It gives you precautionary measures based on the daily index (see the attached pin).
- The major improvement I implemented is my breaking down the continuous mode of exposure to 7-8 min size exposure (not burning) and then breaking out for 2-3 minutes helped. Repeat the exposure when your body is slightly warm.
How long does Vit-D3 stay in the body? The short answer is ~2 months. Vitamin-D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin and get stored in fat and other tissues (June 20, 2018). But remember we consume Vit-D every day. So it needs to be refilled and maintained.
Sun exposure is not an option because of the certain benefits body gets which supplements don’t offer as some clinical studies show, which is followed up in the following section
Supplements-Can it replaces sunlight production of Vitamin- D?
Supplements or no supplements?
There are people across the aisle debating over this issue. Do not get caught between these and consult your doctor. I personally have benefited from supplements and exercises. I was living in Seattle during the winter months and this place has almost no sunlight and the sky is gray most of the time with small sun breaks. My Vit-D level was upped with supplements prescribed my doctor. The table below offers the treatment conditions used to improve my Vitamin-D level.
It is not surprising that the Vitamin-D market is flooding with different kinds of supplements. Supplements of different strengths, liquid formulations, and supplements combined with Vitamin-K1 and K2 are only some names. Your doctor can advise you based on your requirement. I was prescribed with two kinds of Vitamin-D supplements, Vitamin-D2 and Vitamin-D3 and those are commonly used as well.
Vitamin-D3 (Cholecalciferol): This is synthetically prepared from lamb wool. This is the form that our body makes on exposure to sunlight as well. Vitamin-D2 (Ergocalciferol) is similar structural class as Vit-D3 but it is synthesized upon exposure of sunlight on fungi or plants.
While both D2 and D3 are metabolically transformed to the same 25-hydroxy-Vitamin-D3, Studies have shown Vit-D3 offers better blood levels compared to vitamin-D2. Both of them worked in my situation. I save my Vit-D2/ D3 capsules from moisture my tightening the cap after every time I used.
If you have enough Vitamin-D3 in your body acquired my sunlight, additional sun exposure does not lead to any vitamin-D3 production. But Vitamin-D3 supplements keeps accumulating and over time may lead to toxicity. So consult your doctor before you gulp any D-supplement.
I used a combination of Vitamin-D2 and Vitamin-D3 prescribed my primary care physician which worked to fill my Vitamin-D hole. The table below shows the treatment condition I adopted.
The medium for medicine: Because Vitamin-D3 is a fat-soluble Vitamin, I use oil or a nut (almond or cashew) right before I swallow my pills right after my lunch which is my largest meal of the day.
We need to supplement our body at least when the sun is not available. Vit-D supplements are inexpensive and readily available. They are helpful in winter months and may also in summer months if you suffer from extreme deficiency. Consult your physician.
Sun exposure does not seem to be an option because of the certain benefits body get which supplements don’t offer as the most recent clinical studies show. Per the current study
Neither Vit-D nor fish oil actually lowered the incidence of heart disease or cancer. This result was from a phase 3 clinical started in 2009 using 26000 men and women all across US testing the health effect of these supplements. This result was published on Nov 10, 2018.
Sunlight protects and decreases the risk of cancer but not the Supplements
“A new research review that collectively examined data from more than 100 countries concluded exposure to sunlight, which stimulates the production of vitamin D, is protective against cancer”
“The data showed very strong evidence that higher solar UVB exposure decreases the risk of 15 different types of cancer, and weaker evidence also pointed to protection against an additional nine types of cancer”.
Beyond sun exposure, checking the daily UV index before going out is very helpful to protect your body from harmful sun exposure.
Regular Exercise Increases D-level
Research has demonstrated that exercise increases vitamin-D levels and lowers heart diseases. The benefits of exercise are numerous. You feel happy, relaxed, helps in weight loss, helps in blood circulation, good for bones, muscles and skin health, brain health, and memory.
I work out in the morning at least 4 days a week with a minimum of 30-45 minutes each time in the gym. My pre-workout snack just has a piece of sweet potato most of the days and a green tea before I end up in the gym in my apartment complex. This lasted for 1 year. Apart from that, I take 20-30 min walk during the day 4-5 days a week. After one year I moved out of that apartment and my exercise reduced to only walking.
In the daytime, if time allows and weather permitting I take a walk. I try to do 5-6 days in a week covering 3-4 miles with a break of 1-2 days. In bad winter days, I try to walk around my house including my basement to make 2-3 miles. The gym is a few miles away from my home and I am lazy to drive every day. I don’t like to make excuses but I do sometimes.
Securing Enough Vitamin-D3 May not Guarantee Enhanced Vitamin-D- Hormone Level
The simple reason is that the Vit-D3 is not the form to regulate the body functions. This form is biochemically converted to 25-OH-Vitamin-D3 in liver followed by a second conversion to 1,25- (OH)2 in Kidney, to the hormone form which controls the important body functions and ensures the optimal body performances.
Along with sufficient Vit-D3, we also need a well functioned kidney and liver. So check your doctor for your D-level if you are consuming enough Vit-D3, showering with enough sunlight, have all the micronutrients but seeing no improvement of your Vitamin-D-deficiency symptoms.
Vitamin-D Light Therapy Lamp Mimics Natural Sunlight
If you are looking for a replacement of sunlight, there are multiple options available in the market. I just picked a Sperti Vitamin-D lamp and thought is a good choice based on the following reasons. It supplies artificial source of UVB rays producing Vitamin-D on your skin simulating natural sunlight. The shortest exposure time is 5 minutes and does not extend beyond 15 minutes. During the exposure period, you will be projected to a fixed light intensity at a minimum distance of 15 inches to avoid burn.
It automatically shuts off so you are protected against extended sunburn. It has a durable construction. Check out the review if you are interested. There are different kinds of lamp available with different price ranges and functionality and attributes. If you are interested to have one, explore them.
The price of the Sperti Vitamin-D lamp is on the high side ($449.00 at Amazon). I personally have not tried it. It might be good for people who have no time for sun exposure. Just using 5 minutes they can rip the benefit of UVB light which can be equivalent to sunlight. It may address the emerging role of Vitamin-D in numerous health disorders.
Change Your Way to Uplift and Prevent Dismal Vit-D Level
Sensible exposure to sunlight, having doctor prescribed Vitamin-D supplement, regular exercise and consuming Vit-D containing food and fortified food increased my severely murky Vitamin-D level from 4 ng/mL to 25.7 nm/ mL over 2 years.
The education about healthy Vit-D containing food and eating portions is priceless which helped and is helping me, my family and others surrounding me as well. The added bonus: I lost ~30 lb. and maintaining it without dieting.
I live guilt free, have been more active with better stamina, better skin health, sleeping well and feel less stressed. Overall I am much healthier erasing all of the dull Vitamin-D symptoms and sleeping very well my 7-8 hours.
Empower your body with adequate Vitamin-D to fight, heal and prevent from life-threatening diseases. This is what helped me and can help your situation. Consult your physician before you implement a treatment it to your daily life.