benefits of vitamin d


Vitamin D used to be discussed simply in the context of rickets, the dramatic weakening and softening of bones caused by severe calcium and phosphorous deficiency (a condition directly linked to severe vitamin D deficiency).

For many years, this myopic view kept the medical mainstream’s focus on preserving only the minimum levels of vitamin D necessary to maintain bone health. While warding off rickets is certainly a worthy goal, it’s just one of vitamin D’s countless functions.

Though we’ve known of vitamin D’s vital and multi-faceted role in maintaining health for some time, only in recent years have we begun to take this knowledge to heart.

Even the mainstream now acknowledges that vitamin D—which isn’t just a vitamin, but actually a steroid hormone—directly affects nearly every cell in your body. It’s essential for the health of every major system in the body—it protects the heart and brain, bolsters the immune system, ensures the integrity and proper signaling of cells throughout the body, prevents mood imbalances and mental illnesses, and even facilitates DNA repair. And that’s just scratching the surface.

One of the more unexpected ways benefits of this essential nutrient is its ability to prevent and heal insulin resistance and diabetes.

Vitamin D deficiency and diabetes risk

Researchers have suspected for some time that vitamin D plays a role in healthy glucose metabolism, but recent studies have confirmed that it’s even more invaluable than previously thought. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be more closely linked to the development of type 2 diabetes than obesity (which was once considered one of its greatest risk factors).

Researchers determined this link by observing that individuals with low vitamin D serum levels are dramatically more likely to be pre-diabetic or diabetic, regardless of their weight.[1] In other words, vitamin D deficiency is an even more accurate predictor of your diabetes risk than whether or not you’re overweight.

The exciting takeaway of this study is that you can significantly lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes by maintaining optimal vitamin D serum levels (40-60 ng/ml).

This prescription is supported by other studies too, including one that conclusively demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation can prevent pre-diabetes from progressing into fully developed type 2 diabetes. Astoundingly, every unit increase in vitamin D levels decreased study participants’ risk of progressing into diabetes by 8%.[2]

Natural healing for diabetics

And vitamin D’s diabetes-healing abilities aren’t limited to prevention—many studies have demonstrated that raising vitamin D levels can aid those who already have diabetes, as well.

One prominent study found that type 2 diabetics who were given 50,000 IU of vitamin D per week for eight weeks experienced reductions in both fasting plasma glucose and insulin,[3] and another study demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation increased insulin sensitivity by a whopping 54%.[4]

While the mechanisms by which vitamin D works its magic are complex, there are a couple notable reasons why it’s particularly healing for metabolic disorders. For starters, studies have shown that vitamin D is one of the primary factors that regulate and normalize insulin secretion.[5] Other experts believe that its effect upon calcium and phosphorous metabolism (the mechanism by which it keeps bones strong) is linked to a modulation of glucose metabolism (and thus to insulin sensitivity). Vitamin D even heals diabetes epigenetically by upregulating (i.e. “turning on”) the gene that controls insulin receptors, thereby increasing insulin sensitivity.[6]

So whether you’re already living with diabetes or simply want to prevent its onset, maintaining optimal vitamin D serum levels is a wise choice.

Get tested and take action

First things first: get your vitamin D level tested in order to determine whether you have a deficiency (the test can easily be ordered by any doctor, and there are many at-home test kits available too). If you’ve never supplemented with vitamin D, you’re probably deficient, but it’s still helpful to know exactly how far your serum levels are from optimal.

Next, make a plan that allows you to maintain an optimal level of 40-60 ng/ml year-round. Sun exposure is the easiest and most powerful way to get vitamin D (contrary to popular opinion, sun avoidance is much more dangerous than the sun itself). Depending on your skin tone, 8-24 minutes of direct sun exposure (on as much of your body as possible) will allow your body to manufacture all the vitamin D it needs.

This approach poses problems during non-summer months, though (especially in northern latitudes), so you’ll need to get your vitamin D from other sources too. Eating vitamin-D-rich foods like fatty fish, eggs, and vitamin-D-fortified products are a good start, but supplementation is by far your best option.

Make sure you supplement with D3 (not D2), and seek out a formula with liposomal delivery, which vastly increases its absorbability.

Most importantly, don’t put this off! Making the effort to maintain healthy vitamin D levels just might be one of the simplest and most powerful ways you can optimize your health on every level.


[1] http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-02/tes-vdd021815.php

[2] http://www.nephrologynews.com/raising-low-vitamin-d-levels-lowers-risk-of-prediabetes-progressing-to-diabetes-in-study/

[3] https://dmsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1758-5996-5-8

[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9516221?dopt=Abstract

[5] http://www.eje-online.org/content/105/4/528.short

[6] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cbf.951/abstract

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It’s no secret that the brain is an enormously complex organ. There is a great deal that we still don’t know about it—perhaps this is why, for decades, neurodegeneration researchers preferred to assume that cognitive decline is simply an inevitability of old age. After all, how could we possibly claim control over something about which we know so little?

While this kind of humility is still merited when approaching neuroscience, research into cognitive decline has come a long way—and we’re beginning to see that we can control many of the factors implicated in neurodegeneration.

In a recent article, for example, we detailed one doctor’s integrative treatment program for reversing Alzheimer’s disease. Over the course of a year, committed patients of his were able to improve their memory and communication skills, and even physically increase hippocampal volume (which tends to shrink as Alzheimer’s sets in).

This kind of success has ushered in more research into the granular factors underlying cognitive decline and the development of Alzheimer’s disease—and some of the findings are surprising. For example, researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center have discovered that one unlikely hormone (osteocalcin which usually has more to do with bone strength) could be critical for preventing and even reversing memory loss.

Why osteocalcin isn’t just for bones

Osteocalcin is the most abundant non-collagenous protein in your bones; it’s produced by cells called osteoblasts, and is essential for preserving the integrity of the skeletal system. For this reason, serum levels of osteocalcin can be used as a primary biomarker for osteoporosis.[1]

But medical researchers are beginning to recognize a strange fact: everything is connected, and nearly every fundamental element of the human body has more than one role to play. Osteocalcin is no exception. The more researchers dig into the mechanisms of this underrated hormone, the more they uncover about its multi-faceted functionality in the body—skeletal integrity, it seems, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Hormones are often responsible for overseeing the primary rhythms and functions of the body—such as energy metabolism, circadian rhythm, mood, and reproduction. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that osteocalcin is critical for the safeguarding of both fertility and proper metabolic function.

Studies have found that infertility (especially in males) is linked with low levels of osteocalcin.[2] This line of study, which features the use of the interesting term “pancreas-bone-testis axis,” is a particularly good illustration of the body’s interconnectedness.

Similarly, those suffering from diabetes or metabolic syndrome (the precursor to diabetes, marked by the onset of insulin insensitivity) also tend to have low osteocalcin levels. Studies even go so far as to say that “bone metabolism and glucose metabolism are associated with each other through the action of osteocalcin.”[3]

 Osteocalcin plays a central role in protecting the integrity of the brain.

Despite these findings, though, researchers were still surprised when they discovered that osteocalcin also plays a central role in protecting the integrity of the brain.

The results are quite conclusive: researchers found that restoring the osteocalcin levels of elderly animals equalized their memory and learning capacities with those of young animals (the same was true after transfusions of osteocalcin-rich blood). Furthermore, when young animals were given osteocalcin antibodies that cleared the hormone from their bodies, their memory and cognitive function deteriorated rapidly. The researchers confirmed that this mechanism is due to osteocalcin’s regulation of cognition via the Gpr158 receptor in the hippocampus.[4]

How to give your brain the osteocalcin it needs

Optimizing osteocalcin levels requires the same lifestyle practices that we usually recommend: eat an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich diet with plenty of organic whole foods, exercise and use detoxification practices regularly, and use supplements to remedy nutrient deficiencies.

While any optimal lifestyle must include proper diet, exercise and supplementation have been shown to be particularly important for maintaining healthy osteocalcin levels.

The same group of Columbia researchers mentioned above found that osteocalcin levels increase significantly after exercise[5] (and staying active has long been shown to prevent structural dysfunction and bone deterioration—“use it or lose it,” as they say).

The production of osteocalcin within the body is dependent upon the presence of vitamin K

Perhaps the most fundamental factor of all, though, is maintaining proper levels of vitamin D and vitamin K. The production of osteocalcin within the body, and its proper binding with bone tissue, is dependent upon the presence of vitamin K. It’s somewhat difficult to get enough vitamin K from food (especially vitamin K2, and especially if you’re already deficient), so supplementation with a high-bioavailability formula is wise.

As you may remember from previous articles, though, you should always take vitamin K and vitamin D in conjunction with one another. They work synergistically to mobilize osteocalcin and ensure that it ends up in the right place (deficiency can cause calcification of the arteries rather than calcium-binding in the bones).

We highly recommend this liposomal blend of vitamin K2 and vitamin D3; it contains the perfect ratio of the two nutrients, is formulated with the highest-quality forms of each vitamin, and it features the highest absorption rate of any formulation method on the market.


– Cutting-edge liposomal formulation for MAXIMUM absorption
– Includes MK7 the most powerful form of vitamin K2
– Promotes osteocalcin production
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[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4576601/

[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110217124909.htm

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4689779/

[4] http://jem.rupress.org/content/early/2017/08/28/jem.20171320

[5] http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131(16)30222-4

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For most of our lives, we’ve been told the same story when it comes to sun exposure and cancer risk: the sun is dangerous and cancer-causing, so slather on that sunscreen and avoid harmful UV rays whenever possible.

There’s certainly at least some truth to this belief. Sun overexposure can damage the skin, and the oxidative stress that accompanies this damage is an underlying factor in the development of cancer.

But the narrative that hiding from the sun will therefore prevent cancer hasn’t quite played out. In fact, quite the opposite is true: rates of skin cancer have increased a shocking 660% since the introduction of sunscreen. And that’s just the average increase; among women, skin cancer rates have increased by 2300%!

These numbers continue to worsen year after year, despite that fact that over 70% Americans always use one or more types of sun protection.[1] In fact, some evidence even suggests that individuals who wear the most sunscreen are at highest risk for skin cancer.[2]

It’s clear, then, that sunscreen and sun avoidance are not the path to preventing skin cancer (and that they can actually be more dangerous that the sun itself).

As we’ve discussed in past articles, part of the problem is the plethora of toxic chemicals that make up most conventional sunscreen products. If you still feel the occasional need to use sunscreen after reading this article, that link also teaches you how to make your own non-toxic sunscreen at home.

But the greatest problem with sunscreen (and sun avoidance in general) is that it leads to vitamin D deficiency.

The complex relationship between the sun, vitamin D, and your health

One thing has become clear after decades of research: human beings are not meant to hide from the sun. Proper precautions and moderation notwithstanding, many health experts now believe that sun exposure is as important to optimal health as water intake, proper diet, and sleep.

This is, in large part, because your body cannot properly synthesize vitamin D without exposure to the sun’s UV rays.

Vitamin D has been all the rage for a number of years now, but let’s recap. Gone are the days when the medical establishment believed that vitamin D is only good for keeping bones strong. While this is one of its benefits, its role in the body is decidedly more pivotal.

 Optimal vitamin D levels is a powerful way to prevent a wide variety of ailments and diseases—including skin cancer.

Vitamin D modulates over 2,000 genes throughout the body, acts as a critical hormone, and safeguards the health of nearly every one of your cells. For this reason, maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is a powerful way to prevent a wide variety of ailments and diseases—including skin cancer.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that up to 70% of cancer patients exhibit severe vitamin D deficiency,[3] and that conversely, optimal vitamin D levels promote cancer cell apoptosis and inhibit the development of cancerous cells.

So here’s the bad news: the vast majority of the American population is vitamin D deficient. Some accounts posit that 90% of people have sub-optimal levels of this critical nutrient, and even conservative estimates place the number at least 50%.[4]

The vast majority of the American population is vitamin D deficient.

How to optimize your vitamin D levels

Our epidemic of vitamin D deficiency and its associated diseases does have a silver lining: vitamin D deficiency is a simple problem to fix, and doing so has far-reaching benefits. Unlike environmental toxins, EMF pollution, or other disease factors that are harder to control, vitamin D deficiency is something we can directly address with just a couple simple practices.

First things first: go get your vitamin D levels tested, even if you’re not yet experiencing any disease symptoms (prevention is key, especially with conditions like skin cancer). It’s essential that you monitor your levels, so that you know how much work needs to be done to optimize them.

Next, get outside everyday. Don’t wear sunscreen, and try to expose as much of your skin as possible. No need to go overboard, though—just twenty minutes in strong, direct sunlight is all your body needs to synthesize its daily dose of vitamin D. The short duration will also ensure that no damage is done to your skin.

Here’s where it gets tricky, though: throughout much of the United States (basically anywhere above Atlanta, Georgia), there are times of the year when your body won’t be able to produce vitamin D from the sun’s rays (this effect has to do with the angle at which UV rays reach your latitude). This is one reason why vitamin D deficiency is more common in northern latitudes.

The solution is to couple your sunbathing routine with vitamin D supplementation. Not all supplements are created equal, though—seek out a liposomal formula for maximum absorption. Also, never take vitamin D without vitamin K; doing so can increase vitamin K deficiency and worsen some of the very problems you’re trying to prevent.

If you’re searching for the right vitamin D supplement, look no further than Purathrive’s Liposomal Vitamin D3 with K2—it’s optimal quality, liposomalized for perfect bioavailability, and complexed with MK7, the most absorbable form of vitamin K2.




[1] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/behavior.htm

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK247164/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354850/

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20133466

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The National Osteoporosis Foundation estimates that 44 million Americans suffer either from osteoporosis, or low bone mass, which puts them at risk for the condition.[1]

The numbers have continually climbed over the years, despite attempts to address the underlying causes and risk factors for osteoporosis and bone mass loss. In fact, experts predict that the number will rise to 61 million by 2020.[2]

This may come as a surprise, given that vitamin D and calcium have long been touted as the keys to keeping bones strong and healthy. Milk products are famously fortified with both nutrients, and many food manufacturers have followed suit.

Especially in recent years, awareness around the benefits of vitamin D have skyrocketed—a torrent of research has demonstrated that it can work wonders not only for bone health, but also for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, immune dysfunction, neurological disorders, kidney disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cancer.[3]

These findings have led to a massive uptick in vitamin D supplementation, as well as a shift in thinking around sun exposure and the consumption of nutrient-dense foods. Vitamin D has become a tool in the hands of the masses for strengthening bones and preventing chronic disease.

Why, then, has the incidence of osteoporosis continued to rise?
(where is all that calcium going?)

There is one big reason why vitamin D and calcium awareness has not been sufficient to prevent declining bone health, a largely overlooked factor: the need for vitamin K2.

You’ve probably heard all your life that you need calcium for strong bones.

But what you may not know is when that same calcium ends up in your arteries it can narrow your blood vessels and set you up for a heart disaster!  Researchers call it “the calcium paradox.”

That’s because you need calcium for strong bones — but if it ends up in your arteries it can kill you!

Vitamin K2 acts like a shuttle service that directs calcium in your body and can safely pull calcium out of your arteries… and put it back in your bones where it belongs!  When you’re deficient in Vitamin K2 — calcium goes rogue and ends up in the walls of your arteries — causing “calcified” — or rigid arteries!

It turns out that vitamin K2 releases a protein hormone called osteocalcin, which locks calcium into the structure of your bones.

A prominent example of misplaced calcium is atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries characterized by arterial calcium deposits. Atherosclerosis is a major sign of serious heart disease and a significant risk factor for stroke and heart attack—this is why researchers found that vitamin K2 is involved in the prevention of heart disease.

Is Vitamin D Supplementation Actually Hurting You?

Dr. Rheaume-Bleue, the author of Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life, gives the following warning to those supplementing with vitamin D for bone health:

“There are so many people on the vitamin-D-mega-dose bandwagon, taking more and more of vitamin D. And it could absolutely be causing harm if you are lacking the K2 to complete the job to get the calcium where it’s supposed to be. We don’t see symptoms of vitamin D toxicity very often. But when we do, those symptoms are inappropriate calcification. That’s the symptom of vitamin D toxicity. And it is actually a lack of vitamin K2 that can cause that.”[6]

Researchers have compared supplementation with vitamin D plus K2 versus supplementation with vitamin D alone. The results were conclusive: vitamin D combined with vitamin K2 protected against cardiovascular calcification (as measured by the coronary artery calcification score and the thickness of the carotid intima media), while vitamin D alone did not.[4]

This study, combined with other research on vitamin K2 and vitamin D3, made it clear to researchers that vitamin K2 is crucial for maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of vitamin D.[5]

 The real way to prevent bone loss

Taking too much vitamin D without the balancing effect of vitamin K2 can be worse than taking neither supplement. And because calcification is the primary issue, if your vitamin D supplement contains calcium (or if you’re supplementing with calcium independently), it’s even more important that you add vitamin K2 to your regimen.

Remember too that absorption is common issue when it comes to supplements—if you want real protection for your bones, you’ll need to seek out a highly absorbable blend of both vitamin K2 and vitamin D3.

Not All Vitamin D Supplements are Created Equal

Most D3 Supplements are NOT absorbable. When D3 cannot be absorbed, your body is unable to assimilate and you will not get the benefits. So you still end up with the symptoms.

We recommend PuraTHRIVE Vitamin D3 with K2: a formula that’s “liposomalized”—meaning it’s specifically blended to make D3 + Vitamin K2 bind to phosphlipids (fats) that increase its bioavailability more than 20 times.

Special introductory offer – stock up today.


[1] https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics

[2] Ibid.

[3] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/3/362.full

[4] http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/suppl_1/i352.abstract

[5] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx

[6] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/19/vitamin-d-vitamin-k2.aspx#_edn1

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If you’ve had the flu recently, you know how miserable it can be. For most people, one bout with it is enough to convince them to run out for a flu shot the following year.

This is exactly what flu vaccines manufacturers would prefer—but there’s actually very little evidence that these shots are the best way to prevent influenza, and plenty of evidence that they carry dangerous risks.

In past articles, we’ve discussed the dangers of flu vaccines, as well as the deceitful practices used by pharmaceutical companies to keep the public hooked on their toxic creations.

Some flu shots contain over 25,000 times the EPA’s safe limit for mercury

Some flu shots contain over 25,000 times the EPA’s safe limit for mercury,[1] which studies have linked with a rise in Alzheimer’s disease[2] and other degenerative conditions normally blamed on aging.

The newest model, a vaccine called Fluad, no longer contains the mercury-based preservative thimerosal—but it contains plenty of chemicals that may be even worse, including the heavy metal barium, the antibiotic neomycin, and the surfactant polysorbate-80. Check out this article to read about the litany of horrible risks and side effects associated with this vaccine.

Despite constant pressure from doctors and drugstores to get your flu shot each and every year, the manufacturer’s own packaging insert recommends that no one receive more than one shot (not per year, per lifetime).

And worst of all, flu vaccines are not even that effective

And worst of all, flu vaccines are not even that effective. In fact, the CDC admitted that the percentage of time that flu shots are effective is significantly lower than what doctors advertise.

They even found that getting a flu shot may increase your chances of experiencing a full-blown flu (unvaccinated people sometimes still get the flu, but don’t experience any symptoms at all).[3]

So what’s the alternative?

First and foremost, it’s worth mentioning that preventing influenza isn’t fundamentally about taking something.

Protecting against the flu is less about replacing the flu vaccine with a different physical remedy, and more about empowering the immune system to function at its peak. There are, however, remedies that accomplish this task far more effectively than flu shots—and vitamin D is at the top of the list.

The CDC notes a study published in the Journal of Virology, which found that the flu vaccine (especially when it’s received year after year) can inhibit certain types of immune response. Researchers theorize that this is why vaccinated people can actually be more susceptible to novel subtypes of influenza.[4]

Vitamin D, on the other hand, keeps the immune system in balance and confers natural, effective protection against influenza. One study found that “recent discoveries indicate that vitamin D upregulates the endogenous antibiotics of innate immunity.”[5]

Influenza can be considered a symptom of vitamin D deficiency, lowest blood serum levels of vitamin D experience the highest incidence of influenza

The same study builds on the theory of Dr. John Cannell, who was the first to posit that influenza can be considered a symptom of vitamin D deficiency; a number of other studies now support this model. Researchers consistently find that those with the lowest blood serum levels of vitamin D experience the highest incidence of influenza—this finding was even confirmed by a large study that included a cross-section representative of the entire United States.[6]

Connecting vitamin D deficiency with the flu helps answer many of the tough questions associated with the study of influenza. Why do “flu seasons” begin and end so abruptly? Why do flu epidemics occur in otherwise unrelated areas of similar latitude? It seems more and more likely that the sunlight deficiency (and thus the vitamin D deficiency) that characterizes winter months plays a central role.

Is vitamin D supplementation really more effective?

After conducting an exhaustive review of twenty-five different randomized trials, an international team of researchers concluded that vitamin D supplementation is indeed more effective than the flu vaccine for preventing influenza.

To put it precisely, flu shots will prevent 1 out of every 40 cases of the flu (and some experts believe this number is generous), while vitamin D supplementation will prevent 1 out of every 33 cases.

These numbers refer to individuals who already have relatively normal blood serum levels of vitamin D—in individuals with moderate to severe vitamin D deficiency, supplementation is 10 times more effective than the flu vaccine for preventing influenza.[7]

For this reason, it’s extremely important to have your vitamin D levels tested (unless you enjoy getting the flu). For ideal flu prevention, you’ll want to maintain a level of 45-60 ng/mL of vitamin D year-round—which very often requires supplementation, especially if you live in latitudes above Atlanta, Georgia.

2 Things You NEED to KNOW when selecting a D3 Supplement

1. Warning: Never take Vitamin D Without Vitamin K2

Just as important as vitamin D3 is taking vitamin K2! Taking Vitamin D without vitamin K could actually be harmful to your Health!

When it comes to calcium metabolism, vitamins D and K work together. Both play important roles. Vitamin D gets calcium into your blood and Vitamin K gets calcium into the bones and prevents the calcium from accumulating in your arteries, kidneys or heart where it can wreak havoc on your health.

You don’t want rogue calcium going to the wrong places, causing joint stiffness or arterial plaque. Vitamin K2 insures that your body uses calcium properly.

2. Most D3 Supplements are NOT absorbable.

When D3 cannot be absorbed, your body is unable to assimilate and you will not get the benefits. So you still end up with the symptoms.

Vitamin D3 is fat-soluable. This means it needs to be taken with a healthy fat in order to be absorbed.  Most Vitamin D supplements are not absorbable.


PuraTHRIVE Introduces Vitamin D3 with K2: a formula that’s “liposomalized”—meaning it’s specifically blended to make D3 + Vitamin K2 bind to phosphlipids (fats) that increase its bioavailability more than 20 times.

Special Introductory Offer – Stock Up Today




[1] https://www.epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847438

[3] http://www.nvic.org/nvic-vaccine-news/april-2016/cdc-admits-flu-shots-fail-half-the-time.aspx

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3209321/

[5] http://virologyj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-422X-5-29

[6] http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/414815

[7] http://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583

Image source

You may remember the vitamin D craze of a few years ago. Because enthusiasm for the therapeutic benefits of this vitamin has simmered, some people might be tempted to believe that it was just a fad. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

Vitamin D is essential for nearly every aspect of your health—and the problem of deficiency is still as widespread as ever.

According to a 2011 study, 41.6% of all Americans, and approximately 1 billion people worldwide, are deficient in vitamin D. The number skyrockets among some minorities in the United States: 69.2% of Hispanics and 82.1% of African Americans are deficient.[1]

This is bad news, because sufficient vitamin D levels are necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions. It’s so important that every cell in your body has a receptor for vitamin D. “Vitamin” is actually somewhat of a misnomer, because it functions as a hormone—and contrary to what we used to believe about it, vitamin D doesn’t just build strong bones (though that’s certainly one of its many benefits).

Beisdes regulating levels of phosphorus and calcium in the blood (which is how it contributes to skeletal strength and stability), vitamin D also optimizes immune function,[2] regulates mood,[3] promotes cardiovascular health, and much more.[4]

Vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with a staggering list of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal issues, Alzheimer’s disease and general cognitive decline, greater incidence of infectious illness, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancer.[5]  

And sadly, many people don’t even know they’re deficient until they’ve developed more serious health issues. Luckily, there are some signs you can look out for.

Common symptoms of deficiency

First and foremost, it’s important to note that some people are more predisposed than others to vitamin D deficiency. As indicated above, those with darker skin tend to be more at risk, as do the elderly, vegetarians, those who are overweight or obese, and those who live far from the equator. If you fit into any of these categories, you should pay especially close attention to your vitamin D levels.

Here’s some other signs that it could be time to get your vitamin D levels tested.

Bone loss is perhaps the most obvious symptom, given that vitamin D is thought to be predominantly associated with skeletal health. A large observational study found a strong correlation between low vitamin D levels and low bone density.[6]

Frequent illness. As mentioned above, vitamin D plays a critical role in the functioning of the immune system.[7] Observational studies demonstrate that those who frequently contract colds, flus, brochitis, and pneumonia are vitamin D deficient,[8] and that supplementing with 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily may reduce the risk of respiratory infection.[9]

Depression. While it’s hard to say whether vitamin D deficiency is an actual causative factor in clinical depression, any consistently low or depressed mood can be a sign that you’re deficient. Researchers have linked vitamin D deficiency with depression, especially in older adults.[10]

Fatigue. When tiredness and fatigue becomes chronic and consistent (whether it’s caused by insufficient sleep and excess work or not), it is nearly always correlated with low levels of vitamin D,[11] which your body recruits in order to deal with its burden of stress. Studies demonstrate that such fatigue can be overcome through vitamin D supplementation.[12]

Back pain. If you suffer from chronic lower back pain—particularly the kind that can’t be traced to a specific injury—it could be a sign of vitamin D deficiency. Research has shown time and time again that those with deficiencies are much more likely to have moderate to severe back pain.[13]

How to restore optimal vitamin D levels

If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms, get your vitamin D levels tested as soon as possible. Don’t put it off; vitamin D deficiency is very simple to fix, but can have disastrous consequences for your health if left unaddressed.

If your blood serum levels are below 40 ng/ml, it’s time to make some lifestyle changes, and possibly to begin a supplementation regimen. Start by spending more time outside—about twenty minutes every day in direct sunlight, with as much of your body exposed as possible, will work wonders.

If you live in a latitude above 37 degrees north, however, your skin won’t make enough vitamin D when exposed to the sun throughout the majority of the year. Take a look at this map to locate your “vitamin D latitude”:

If you live above the red line, it’s particularly important that you get your vitamin D from food and supplements. Eat plenty of fish, orange juice, milk (preferably raw), egg yolks, and fortified cereals, and take a high-quality, high-bioavailability vitamin D supplement daily.

Seek out liposomal vitamin D if possible, and always take D3 instead of other forms. For best results, combine your vitamin D with MK-7, a form of vitamin K2 that works synergistically with it.



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310306

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20824663

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26998791

[4] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

[5] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra070553

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26538987

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20824663

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27178217

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3686844/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26998791

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26543719

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21206551

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26431139

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By now, “make sure you’re not deficient in vitamin D” is an oldie…but it’s still a goodie too.

In the years since the vitamin D craze first began, researchers have only become more certain that vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem, and that the simple practice of maintaining optimal levels could be the solution to a staggering number of health issues.

Even mainstream medicine has begun to recognize vitamin D’s multi-faceted importance. In recent years, the RDA was raised from 600 IU to 800 IU—a very good sign, considering the bureaucratic nightmare involved in changing an official nutrient recommendation. But some experts warn that even the new RDA for vitamin D is more than ten times lower than what the body actually needs.[1]

If that’s not scary enough, get this: Dr. Robert Heaney, M.D.—arguably the world’s leading vitamin D researcher—says with great confidence that the current insufficient RDA was set due to mathematical error.

When he used precisely the same data sets the Institute of Medicine used to calculate their official RDA, his calculations yielded 7,000 IU.[2] Another research team at the University of Edmonton carried out the same process, and came to 8,895 IU as the ideal RDA.[3]

Furthermore, all of these calculations are based on the assumption that 20 nanograms per milliliter is a sufficient blood level of vitamin D for optimal health. This belief has been strongly called into question by many top researchers, who maintain that a year-round level of 40-60 ng/ml is the real sweet spot.

Dr. Heaney’s research has demonstrated that 20 ng/ml is not even sufficient to prevent osteomalacia (one of the signs of severe vitamin D and calcium deficiency), let alone promote peak health and performance.[4]

So why are optimal vitamin D levels so important?

There’s no shortage of research on the ravages of vitamin D deficiency. Studies have linked it to a wide array of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and other gastrointestinal issues, Alzheimer’s disease and general cognitive decline, greater incidence of infectious illness, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancer.[5]

Even the IOM itself (who set the low RDA in the first place) conducted a huge study showing that people most deficient in vitamin D have an 88% increased risk of death from any cause.[6]

With all the confusion surrounding what blood level actually comprises a deficiency, though, this wealth of research still hasn’t changed the tide of public opinion—despite the fact that maintaining a vitamin D level of 40 ng/ml is one of the simplest and most direct possible ways to combat nearly every prevalent health issue our society faces.

We’re moving in the right direction, though. New research is focusing specifically on what happens when a blood level of 40 ng/ml is maintained—a methodology that circumvents the debate surrounding the “true” RDA for vitamin D.

And the results are very convincing. One prominent study demonstrated that a vitamin D blood level of 40 ng/ml reduces the risk of developing all invasive cancers by as much as 67%.[7]

This is a staggering finding. Past research has shown that a blood level of 50 ng/ml specifically decreases the risk of breast cancer by 50%,[8] and that low levels of vitamin D are found in all men with aggressive prostate cancer,[9] but a correlation between optimal vitamin D levels and universal cancer prevention is truly unique and revolutionary.

This landmark study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, even went so far as to state that optimizing vitamin D levels is a key cancer prevention tool—perhaps even more important and effective than any early detection strategies.

Vitamin D is a no-brainer

There’s not many health practices or supplements that provide unequivocal and dramatic benefits with almost no necessary effort—but vitamin D is one of them. Just the study mentioned above should convince you that keeping track of your vitamin D levels is worth it—and cancer prevention is just one of the myriad benefits that come with maintaining a blood level of 40 ng/ml (vitamin D is crucial for nearly every process in the body).

Optimizing your vitamin D level starts with spending sufficient time in the sun. As we’ve discussed before, sun avoidance actually causes cancer much more readily then the sun itself—and the vitamin D deficiency that results from sun-phobia is one reason why. Spend at least twenty minutes in direct sunlight every day, preferably with a good portion of your skin exposed.

Depending on the climate, seasons, and latitude of your location, though, you may not be able to get all the vitamin D you need from sunlight. Be sure to have yourself tested regularly, and supplement accordingly if your levels are still low.

When choosing a supplement, seek out reputable brands, but don’t fret too much about the details. Some evidence suggests that vitamin D is somewhat more absorbable when it is either plant-derived or in aqueous solution, but the difference is not a huge one.

So don’t wait; take these steps toward optimizing your vitamin D levels today. Doing so represents one of your greatest opportunities to strengthen and support every aspect of your physical health…take advantage of it!



[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/10/vitamin-d-recommended-dietary-allowance.aspx

[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150317122458.htm

[3] http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/10/4472

[4] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/05/10/vitamin-d-recommended-dietary-allowance.aspx

[5] http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra070553

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23533239

[7] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0152441

[8] http://ar.iiarjournals.org/content/31/2/607.full.pdf+html

[9] http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2016/03/vitamin-d-prostate-cancer.html

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