An optimal blood level of vitamin D is essential for a strong immune system.
We have an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. It’s estimated that nearly half of Americans have “insufficient” vitamin D levels (under 29 ng/ml) and 14 percent are deficient (under 19.6 ng/ml).
Vitamin D blood levels of 50 ng/ml or higher have been found to protect against respiratory infections like influenza or corona type viruses. D3
Vitamin D increases the production of cathelicidins, anti-microbial peptides which destroy viruses, bacteria, parasites, and pathogens.
Adequate sunshine and/or supplementing with Vitamin D3 appears to be one of the cheapest and best ways to support your innate immune system against flu and corona-type viruses.
A review of 25 trials published in the British Medical Journal in 2017 concluded that vitamin D supplementation clearly protects against acute respiratory tract infections, especially for those deficient in D3.
Researchers found that daily or weekly dosing was more effective than a large one-time dose.
The review indicated that for every four people given vitamin D one case of respiratory infection was prevented. Vaccination typically must be given to 44 people to prevent one case of respiratory infection. Based on this, it appears that Vitamin D supplementation might be 10 times more effective at preventing the flu than a flu shot.
A randomized trial which gave vitamin D3 to Japanese schoolchildren found that those who were given 1200 IU of vitamin D per day from December through March had nearly half as many cases (10% vs 18%) of influenza A than those in the placebo group. The children taking D3 also had fewer asthma attacks (2 vs 12).
Supplementing with 5,000–10,000 IU per day of D3 may be necessary to reach protective blood levels, depending on multiple factors, which I discuss below.
Vitamin D for cancer prevention and healing
In 2016, a landmark study published in PLOS ONE found that women over 55 with blood concentrations of vitamin D higher than 40ng/ml, had a 67% lower risk of cancer compared women with levels lower than 20ng/ml.
“We have quantitated the ability of adequate amounts of vitamin D to prevent all types of invasive cancer combined, which had been terra incognita until the publication of this paper,” said Cedric Garland, researcher and adjunct professor at the UC San Diego School of Medicine Department of Family Medicine and Public Health. (Note: they excluded skin cancer)
The researchers concluded that optimal levels for cancer prevention are between 40 and 60ng/ml, (100-150 nmol/L) and that most cancers occur in people with vitamin D blood levels between 10 and 40ng/ml.
The study did not reveal whether supplementation or sun exposure was the best way to obtain vitamin D. However, the researchers concluded that vitamin D only starts protecting against cancer once you get your blood level up to 40 ng/ml. They noted that more health benefits were observed at even higher levels.
A 2005 study found that women with blood concentrations of vitamin D higher than 60ng/ml had an 83% reduction in breast cancer compared with those lower than 20ng/ml.
The Sunshine Vitamin (If you can get it)
The best source of vitamin D is sunshine, and sunshine produces a cascade of health benefits beyond vitamin D production. For this reason, most experts recommend that you get 10-20 minutes of sunshine per day on as much of your body as possible.
-Check your vitamin D3 level. You can order a test kit from home at: https://grassrootshealth.net/project/daction/
Your doctor can also order a vitamin D panel with your next set of blood work, or you can get it done at a walk-in testing clinic in your area. Order through www.yourlabwork.com
-Depending on your current D3 level and your target level, you could take 1,000-10,000 IU per day, then retest in 30-90 days and adjust accordingly. It may take a few months to get your blood levels up.
Vitamin D co-factors
You need magnesium to absorb vitamin D. Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis and metabolism pathway. Plant foods with high levels of magnesium are dark leafy greens, beans, nuts, avocados, and whole grains. Megafood also makes a great whole food magnesium supplement.
Intense exercise, resveratrol, zinc, omega-3s, quercetin, and curcumin also help increase vitamin D absorption.
What about K2?
K2 is not necessary for D3 absorption, but vitamin D increases calcium absorption and K2 helps your body incorporate calcium into your teeth and bones and prevents it from building up in the wrong places, like your arteries.
K2 is present in animal foods and fermented plant foods like natto and sauerkraut. Vegetables are rich in K1 which is converted to K2 by bacteria in your gut, but if you are taking high doses of D3 you may need more K2.
Generally speaking, it is recommended that for every 5,000-10,000 IU of D3 you take, also take 100 mcg of K2 mk7. Some research indicates that it may be better to take D3 and K2 separately instead of together.
What form to take?
I recommend vitamin D3 in the form of cholecalciferol. The only brand I don’t like is Garden of Life Raw D3. After taking it for a year, my bloodwork showed that I was still low in D3.
I take vitamin D3 gelcaps from Better Way Health. I love their products. I am an affiliate partner. And I negotiated a discount for my readers. You can use the coupon code “chris” to get 10% off your order. Plus if you sign up for auto-ship, you’ll save another 15%, for a total of 25% off every month. I also take and enthusiastically endorse their Curcumin Extra Strength for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits and Beta Glucans for additional immune support.
D3 Megadosing strategy
If your D3 level is in the danger zone (under 19.6 ng/ml) and you want to get it up quickly, you may benefit from megadosing with 50,000-100,000 IU per day for 7 days then continuing with 50,000 IU once per week or 5,000-10,000 IU per day. Biotech Pharmacal D-50 is a 50,000 IU D3 capsule designed for megadosing and/or once-per-week supplementation.
-Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D, but most people don’t get enough sun, especially in the winter. That’s where supplementation comes in.
-The ideal vitamin D blood level for viral infection prevention is above 50 ng/ml.
-The target vitamin D blood level for cancer prevention and healing is over 40 ng/ml, but higher, between 60-100 ng/ml might be better.
-Magnesium, K2, exercise, zinc, resveratrol, curcumin and omega-3’s all help vitamin D3 work better.
-I take 5,000 to 10,000 IU of D3 per day depending on the season.
-Children can safely take 1,000 IU of D3 per 25lbs of body weight per day.
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