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Why Vitamin D Supplements Are NOT the Same as Sunlight

February 12, 2008 | 107,328 views
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sunlight, sun exposure, vitamin DThe assumption that vitamin D supplements will protect you against diseases associated with low vitamin D levels is incorrect, according to Australian researchers. The report found that vitamin D supplements are immunosuppressive and may actually make diseases worse.

Vitamin D Nuclear Receptor (VDR) influences the expression of over 1,000 genes, including those associated with diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. According to the new study, supplemental vitamin D actually blocks VDR activation, which is the opposite effect to that of sunshine.

Instead of positively impacting gene expression, vitamin D supplements appear to suppress your immune system.

Vitamin D deficiency, the researchers pointed out, is likely not a cause of disease but rather is a result of the disease process. And increasing vitamin D intake may make the diseases worse.

The body regulates production of all the vitamin D it needs, the researchers said, and dysregulation of vitamin D by supplementation has been associated with many chronic diseases.

How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help Optimize Your Health

A robust and growing body of research clearly shows that vitamin D is absolutely critical for good health and disease prevention. Vitamin D affects your DNA through vitamin D receptors (VDRs), which bind to specific locations of the human genome. Scientists have identified nearly 3,000 genes that are influenced by vitamin D levels, and vitamin D receptors have been found throughout the human body.

Is it any wonder then that no matter what disease or condition is investigated, vitamin D appears to play a crucial role? This is why I am so excited about the D*Action Project by GrassrootsHealth. It is showing how you can take action today on known science with a consensus of experts without waiting for institutional lethargy. It has shown how by combining the science of measurement (of vitamin D levels) with the personal choice of taking action and, the value of education about individual measures that one can truly be in charge of their own health.

In order to spread this health movement to more communities, the project needs your involvement. This was an ongoing campaign during the month of February, and will become an annual event.

To participate, simply purchase the D*Action Measurement Kit and follow the registration instructions included. (Please note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the kits go to fund the research project. I do not charge a single dime as a distributor of the test kits.)

As a participant, you agree to test your vitamin D levels twice a year during a five-year study, and share your health status to demonstrate the public health impact of this nutrient. There is a $65 fee every six months for your sponsorship of this research project, which includes a test kit to be used at home, and electronic reports on your ongoing progress. You will get a follow up email every six months reminding you "it's time for your next test and health survey."

Vitamin D Kit
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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

As with most nutrients and compounds, it is always best to get them from their natural sources, and vitamin D is no exception. In fact, according to these new results, it may be one of the most potent examples of what can go wrong if you veer too far from nature.

I have always found it peculiar that the only vitamin that is not in breast milk is vitamin D. To me that is a giant clue that we were NOT designed to swallow vitamin D. Newborn infants, just like you, were designed to get this from exposing their skin to natural sunlight.

Folks, without question, the best way to get the right amount of vitamin D is to spend some time in the sun.

You always want to avoid getting burned, but generally speaking you can safely spend anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours in the sun every day with beneficial effects. If you have dark-colored skin or live far from the equator, you will need to spend more time in the sun than someone who is light-skinned living close to the equator.

Of course, it’s the middle of February, and for people living in many areas this means it’s cold and dreary. In other words, sun exposure simply isn’t an option.

But you do have options to get the vitamin D your body needs: safe tanning beds that have harmful emissions shielded and high-quality vitamin D supplements.

All Vitamin D Supplements are Not the Same

I’m not certain what type of vitamin D was studied in the report above, however the abstract mentions the vitamin D that’s added to milk and cereals. Well, the vitamin D that’s added to milk is synthetic vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and is not something that you should be taking anyway.

Only vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), the type of vitamin D found naturally in foods like eggs, organ meats, animal fat, cod liver oil, and fish, is appropriate for supplementation. Do NOT use the highly inferior vitamin D2.

There have been no clinical trials to date demonstrating conclusively that D2 prevents fractures, yet every clinical trial of D3 has shown it does. Further, vitamin D2 has a shorter shelf life, and its metabolites bind with protein poorly, making it less effective.

Studies have even concluded that vitamin D2 should no longer be regarded as a nutrient appropriate for supplementation or fortification of foods (though it continues to be used).

So if you choose to use vitamin D supplements make sure it is in the form of vitamin D3. And remember that if you are relying on your “fortified” milk to supply you with vitamin D, it is NOT giving you the healthy type of vitamin D that has been associated with all the benefits that you read about on this site and in the media.

If you do choose to supplement with oral vitamin D you will need to carefully monitor your levels to avoid overdosing. The only time you don’t need to worry about whether or not you’re getting too much, or too little, vitamin D is when your body makes it naturally from the sun.

There is still massive confusion out there, even among health care professionals, about what’s healthy and what’s not when it comes to sunlight and vitamin D.

My new book, Dark Deception, is coming out in the spring and it will help to clear up the confusion once and for all.

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