Learn How to Source Vitamin D Naturally


Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that a human body needs for many vital processes, including maintaining & building strong bones. Low vitamin D intake is a significant public health concern across the globe. Vitamin D deficiency affects 13% of the world’s population [1]. Let’s dig a little more into different aspects of Vitamin D.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids calcium absorption and promotes human bones’ growth and mineralisation. It is integrally involved in different functions related to the immune, digestive, circulatory, and nervous systems. Many studies suggest that vitamin D may help many chronic diseases [2], such as depression, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Vitamin D is more of a hormone and not a vitamin. The best time for Vitamin D is sunset and sunrise as this is when the full spectrum of the sun is at its highest.

How much do you need?

The Endocrine Society suggests a preferred range of 40 to 60 ng/mL. To maintain this level, it is recommended that an intake of 400 to 1000 International Units (IU) daily for infants less than one year, 600 to 1000 IU for children and adolescents from 1 to 18 years, and 1500 to 2000 IU for all adults [3]. Any amount of dose higher than these values might be temporarily needed to raise blood levels in individuals. Though toxicity is rare, it is best to avoid long-term vitamin D doses over 4,000 IU without supervision from a healthcare professional.

Vitamin D & Activation of Macrophages:

Vitamin D is directly associated to VDTP/GcMAF, which are a part of the activation process of the biggest weapon the immune system has called “macrophages”. Vitamin D is a vital part of the key mechanism to fight off disease before it gains a foothold in your body. Vitamin D-binding protein (VDTP) is the precursor protein from which our immune cells make GcMAF.

More about Macrophages – the Main Defense Cells

Human body has excellently evolved over years to become the life-form we are now. But, a part of the old innate immune system is still present and provides basic and fundamental control mechanisms to prolong life. An integral part of this age-old immune system is this vital & curious cell, known as macrophage. It is a specialist white blood cell with unique properties and is responsible to “patrol” the body using the blood system as a road map. Macrophages have specific associations with individual tissues and organs where its name changes. In the central nervous system, it is known as Microglia, in bone as Osteoclasts, in liver as Kupffer cells, in kidneys as Intraglomerular mesangial cells, etc.

Macrophages have the capability to chase, capture, engulf, and digest invading foreign bodies. This process known as phagocytosis, gives the cells its name Macro meaning Big, and ‘phage’ meaning eater. Macrophages engulf dying cells, the general debris, foreign invading cells, or anything that is unrecognized to the type of proteins specific to healthy body cells. They collect and then dispose of all such unwanted material. Every foreign body is immobilized using a “sticky” protein called Opsonin. The microbe, or cancer cell is ‘phagocytosed’ or encapsulated inside an intracellular vesicle, where damaged and cancerous cells are broken down and recycled. Thus, Vitamin D is an essential part of curbing many chronic diseases like cancer and autism.

Natural Boon: Spending time in the sunlight

Vitamin D is often called “the sunshine vitamin” because the sun is the best source of this nutrient. Human skin hosts a type of cholesterol that functions as a forerunner to vitamin D. When exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun, this compound becomes vitamin D. Sun-derived vitamin D circulates twice as long as vitamin D is sourced from food or supplements.

Best time to get Vitamin D from the sun?

Several studies prove that midday is the best time to sunbathe. Maximum UVB time, believed to be responsible for sun burning and skin cancer, was recorded from 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM during many studies. Considering this, the optimum time for sun exposure is from 9:00 AM and before 10:30 AM, as well as after 2:00 PM until 3:00 PM.

Vitamin D Health Benefits

Strong Bones and Muscles

Vitamin D helps the body regulate phosphate and calcium in the body. This is key to bone and muscle health [4]. People with Vitamin D deficiency are at higher risk of developing osteoporosis, in which bones become brittle and weak. Since teeth are bones, too, enough nutrients mean stronger teeth. VDTP/GcMAF can largely help with periodontitis.

Improved Immunity

Studies prove the role vitamin D may play in strengthening your immune system [5] and preventing certain diseases like heart disease [6], type 2 diabetes [7] and cancer [8]. Some studies even link vitamin D deficiency and a lower risk of COVID-19 infections.

Supports Mental Health

Some studies suggest that inadequate vitamin D levels are linked to adverse mental health, and getting enough doses can improve overall mental health in adults [9]. Some patients feel much better mentally once their vitamin D levels are up to their goal.

Here are some ways to increase vitamin D levels naturally:

Consume fatty fish and seafood

Fatty fish and many seafoods are the richest sources of vitamin D for natural food. A canned salmon’s 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving provides up to 386 IU of vitamin D [10]. The exact vitamin D content of seafood may vary depending on the type and species. Other fish and seafood rich in vitamin D are tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, sardines, etc. Many of these foods are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat more mushrooms

Mushrooms are an excellent vegetarian source of vitamin D, as they make their vitamin D upon exposure to UV light [11]. Vitamin D compound in mushrooms depends on the type of mushroom, certain varieties such as wild maitake mushrooms. It provides 2,348 IU per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. Due to their open exposure to sunlight, wild mushrooms contain more vitamin D than commercially grown types. However, you can purchase mushrooms treated with UV light.

Egg yolks

Egg yolks are another source of vitamin D that one should add to a dietary routine. Yolks have variable vitamin D content. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens offer up to 4 times more vitamin D depending on how much time the fowl spend outside.

Eat fortified foods

Some foods naturally contain high levels of vitamin D. This nutrient is often added to staple goods in a process called fortification [12]. Some commonly fortified goods are cow milk, plant-based milk alternatives like soy, almond, hemp milk, orange juice, ready-to-eat cereals, yoghurts, tofu, etc. Since vitamin D is found almost exclusively in animal products, vegetarians and vegans are at high risk of not getting a sufficient dosage. Check the ingredients list for details if you’re unsure whether a particular food has been fortified with vitamin D.

Take a supplement

Taking vitamin D supplements is one of the best ways to ensure adequate intake. Vitamin D exists in two primary biological forms, i.e., D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Typically, D2 is plant-derived, and D3 is derived from animal sources. D3 is significantly more effective in raising and maintaining overall vitamin D levels in humans than D2. So, better look for a supplement with this form. Also, choose supplements tested for purity and quality as vitamin D has a vital role in a healthy human body. Also make a note that when supplementing vitamin D3, you must be cautious about the intake of Vitamin K2 for better absorption. Its also good to take Magnesium as it supports the help balance the body and prevent cramps.

Ending Note:

Vitamin D is a significant nutrient that many people worldwide may be deficient in. It is thus vital to boost vitamin D levels by getting more sun exposure, eating Vitamin D rich foods, and taking supplements. If you think you are low in this essential nutrient, consult a health professional today and get your 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25(OH)D tests done. Abnormal vitamin D levels can indicate bone disorders, organ damage, nutrition problems, or other medical conditions. It is best to get nutrition from a natural source and rely less on supplements as the natural sources of nutrients are best for a healthy body!

References and Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4018438/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440113/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441912/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257679/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3449318
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5505219/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470481/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8584834/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2889879/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213178/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6088524/

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