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Reclaiming Our Most Ancient Hormone: How Hiding from the Sun Hurts Your Health

May 26, 2010 | Nutrition Articles | 0 comments


Until recent times covering our skin was to protect ourselves from the cold – not the sun. Our transportation evolved from horses to cars preventing the rays of the sun from reaching us. It has only been in the last 30 years that we began using sunscreens and avoiding the sun altogether. The most potent steroid hormone in the human body is Vitamin D. When you are deficient in Vitamin D the genes designed to protect your health can’t work properly. Our physiology is as closely linked to the sun as plants. Plants use sunlight to photosynthesize chlorophyll. Our body uses a similar process to photosynthesize Vitamin D. Sunlight and Vitamin D touch virtually every aspect of your biochemistry and physiology. Following is just a small number of the vital roles that Vitamin D plays in your health: Regulates and assists in calcium absorption, energy metabolism, muscle strength and coordination, reduces C-reactive protein and other markers of inflammation, brain development, insulin production stimulation, helps the heart to beat properly and prevents IBS. When it comes to your bones calcium and Vitamin D have a symbiotic relationship. If either is missing, the other can’t do its job. Not only does calcium have a vital role in bone health it also helps the central nervous system transmit nerve impulses, helps the muscles to contract, influences the secretion of insulin by the pancreas and regulate the immune system. You get calcium from the food you eat, or from supplements. But your body needs Vitamin D in order to absorb calcium and phosphorous from the intestinal tract. No matter how much calcium you ingest, without Vitamin D your body cannot absorb it from the small intestine. Research shows that calcium and Vitamin D deficiency in combination puts you at risk for a wide array of chronic diseases. Studies suggest that 90% of the population is deficient in one, the other, or both. Vitamin D helps prevent osteoporosis. When your body is short of calcium it pulls it from your bones. This leads to osteoporosis. Here is how it works. If there is not enough calcium in your diet or not enough Vitamin D to facilitate the absorption, then Vitamin D and the parathyroid hormone will work together to pull this mineral from the bones. The result is osteoporosis. You have Vitamin D receptors all throughout your body and scientists have found that there are also Vitamin D receptors sites throughout all the organs. Activated Vitamin D is one of the most potent regulators of cell growth in both normal and cancerous cells. The more activated Vitamin D your body can create the better. In fact, billions of cells use Vitamin D to respond to a wide variety of diseases and help the body heal. It is one of the most potent powerful nutrients you can give to your body. (Dr. John Cannell’s article “The Secrets of Vitamin D Production”). If you are not getting out in the sun for 15-20 minutes almost daily and not eating appropriate Vitamin D-rich foods or taking supplements, you are at high risk for a deficiency. The best way to know if you are deficient is to have a yearly measurement of 25-hydroxyvitamin D as part of your annual physical exam. The test you should ask for is a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. This test measures levels of calcidiol in your blood. Optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D values are: 50-60 ng/ml or 125-160 nmol/L. Also, when looking at your results you may see seasonal variations. Your levels will likely be lower in the winter than in the summer.


Here are some basic guidelines to responsible sun exposure: 1. Fair-skinned, 10-20 minutes of high summer sun will produce adequate Vitamin D levels. Skin with a moderate amount of pigmentation, 20-40 minutes. Those with the darkest skin may need up to two hours to meet daily Vitamin D requirements. 2. If you are going to be in the sun longer than what you need for Vitamin D, take measures to cover you most sensitive skin – usually your face, shoulders, and the back of your legs. 3. Natural Sunscreens – Sunscreens with zinc oxide as the active ingredient go on thick, but they are safe and effective. Zinc oxide protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays, and zinc oxide remains stable even when exposed to UV radiation unlike the active ingredients found in most sunscreens. 4. Give some thought to how much exposure you are going to get, and act accordingly. This one hormone can dramatically reduce the chances of developing a chronic disease…and if your levels are low Biotics makes a wonderful, easy to take supplement called Bio-D-Mulsion Forte. I would recommend 2 drops per day. If you or someone you know is severely deficient I would suggest starting on 5 drops a day for 30 days then reduce to 2 drops a day. My Vitamin D level in May of 2007 was 29. Sometime around October-November I started taking 2-3 drops a day of Bio-D-Mulsion Forte. I also made sure I increased my Cod Liver Oil during December and January. I had my Vitamin D level checked on February 12, 2008 and it is 65. Diane Weisenberg, BS, NTP is an educator, researcher, and a spirited and passionate forager of whole foods, health and nutrition. As a Practice Manager for a Holistic Veterinary Clinic she is also involved in small animal nutrition. My Motto: Stay curious and get to know the body you were gifted with. Disclaimer: Statements made in these articles have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products or protocols are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or be used as a substitute for appropriate care of a qualified healthcare professional.  The ideas and options of contributing authors do not necessarily reflect those of the Nutritional Therapy Association SPC.