Are you taking toxic doses of Vitamin D?
I admit to having held off for almost a year now before writing about this topic. There’s a new test out for vitamin D levels in the body and it appears that over 90% of all the people in the United States are low on Vitamin D.
Really folks, does this make sense?
Are there that many couch potato, sunscreen using people out there that they can’t convert 5-20 minutes of sunshine (specifically UVB rays) a couple of days per week into the normal proper levels of vitamin D in the body? Or are we all eating some things that are tying up the D or some kind of environmental influence? A combination of all these things? Or maybe, just maybe there is something wrong with this test.
History repeats itself: A few years back we were all deficient in Vitamin E. A few years before that we were all born with a supposed aspirin deficiency. Every time we come up with a new test the market gets flooded by helpful products to right the wrongs. I’m imploring you all to listen to the voice of reason and common sense. It reminds me of the story that goes like this:
“One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.
The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost.”
God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a man making contest.” To which the scientist replied, “OK, great!”
But God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.”
The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.
God just looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!””
Vitamin D can be measured 87 different ways and I don’t know actually which test is being used or if every lab is using the same testing procedure and measuring the same metabolite for my clients being tested.
I see the gambit of Vitamin D recommendations as well. Some doctors recommend mega daily doses with no end point and others recommend a once or twice weekly dose for 2-3 months. Most often, the people who consult with me who are on vitamin D supplements test they don’t need them. The same goes for fish oil supplements.
I don’t really know why this is, but I suspect that they are allergic to something in the gel capsule or the product and how it was processed. Some of these vitamin D supplements are made from lanolin or the skin of cattle and some are not sulfated. A sulfur molecule acts with the vitamin D by connecting with an LDL cholesterol molecule for transport through the body. The more synthetic the supplement, the fewer peoples bodies like them. (And God said, “Hey, make your own dirt!”)
One source I read stated that cod liver oil supplements have been processed to remove mercury and other toxins and that the processing removes most of the vitamins A and D in the process. No wonder very few people test they need cod liver oil and if they do, the best one for them is Carlson’s or some other higher-quality company’s oil. .
People taking vitamin D supplements (D2 or D3) often do not experience the rise in blood and tissue levels that would be expected after the person has supplemented with synthetic vitamin D. There must be more to the story, don’t you agree?
Bodies like real, whole, unadulterated foods. God does a pretty good job with that. Humans aren’t so good at synthesizing these things.
The truth is that the body’s vitamin D needs (and other dietary needs) are highly individual. One recommendation does not fit all. I don’t believe people should take supplements for prevention. They should take what they need. Period.
Vitamin D Uses:
Vitamin D has been espoused to help a myriad of diseases; it has been promoted for prevention of dis-ease and to help keep many systems functioning optimally. Some uses for vitamin D:
- Assisting in calcium absorption within the body
- Athletic performance
- Baldness/hair loss (Japanese studies)
- Cancer preventative
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestion and nutrient absorption
- Fat and carbohydrate metabolism
- Gait abnormalities
- Helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy (high blood pressure, stroke prevention)
- Helps the pancreas
- Multiple sclerosis
- Skin (lupus, psoriasis)
- Respiratory tract (asthma, pneumonia, colds/flu)
- Immune function
- Preserves muscle strength
- Reproductive health
- Rickets prevention and cure
- Sleep patterns
- Tinnitus and hearing
Wow. You name it. Oh the list goes on and on. I’ve just listed a few. If it’s a disease, vitamin D helps it. Another miracle ‘herb of the month’ I call it.
I guess the scenario that really pushed me to write this article is that I met a woman who had a friend taking Vitamin D BUT, he was also now taking Vitamin K to help the vitamin D work. I was appalled. The only time I prescribe or recommend vitamin K (in pill or injectable form) in my practice is when an animal has eaten rat poisoning or some woman’s 30-day supply of birth control pills or if a woman going through peri-menopause has started a period and hasn’t stopped so is literally bleeding slowly to death.
Some internet sources say that taking vitamin K is fairly safe, but I don’t think so. Excess vitamin K dangers include:
Blood clot formation, or thrombosis, is a symptom of vitamin K toxicity. Since vitamin K helps to form clots that protect from profuse bleeding, too much of it could cause excessive clotting. Thrombosis is considered a medical emergency. A blood clot in a leg for example, can break off and travel to the lungs, heart or brain causing severe injury or death. Vitamin K toxicity can also cause kidney damage, jaundice and hemolytic anemia. These diseases are not mild annoyances. I think there’s a reason why vitamin K is not stocked profusely on the shelves in your local health food store, although it’s not possible to overdose on vitamin K when you’re eating whole foods. Note that people taking coumadin and other blood thinners need to keep the doses of dark leafy greens at a consistent level so the circulating levels of coumadin stays constant (yes, you can still have green vegetables when taking blood thinners if you do so correctly—and your body needs those live enzymes and minerals in plant-based foods).
Medical doctors use the injectable form of vitamin K if a patient has overdosed on blood thinners. Some antibiotics can interfere with the absorption of Vitamin K.
There are three forms of vitamin K.
- Vitamin K1 is naturally found in plant foods.
- The body converts vitamin K1 into a usable form called vitamin K2.
- The oral form is vitamin K3.
Natural Sources of Vitamin D and K: Dark leafy greens, free-range eggs produced from pastured chickens, seafood, sun dried mushrooms, beef liver, and whole grains are great naturally occurring whole food substances high in both vitamins D and K and you can’t overdose on them by eating these items like you can by taking it in pill form.
A couple notes: Free range/pastured eggs contain 3-6 times more vitamin D than commercial eggs. Organic and grass fed animal liver is free of many toxins that intensively raised (CAFO) animals contain.
Natural, whole foods contain ALL the components the body needs if you’re eating the correct amounts and types. It is also the reason why you want to grow your own or eat foods that are organic and grown in chemical-free soil fortified with compost. When a food is ‘fortified’ with vitamin D it means that synthetic vitamin D has been used.
Vitamin D helpers: Vitamin D needs the other fat soluble vitamins (A, E and K), sulfur, calcium boron, zinc, iron, magnesium and who knows what else to work optimally. If there isn’t enough vitamin A then the D can’t convert to a usable form. An excess of vitamin D can raise calcium levels too high. So, do we take all of these other supplements too? I say no! High doses of isolated and human-made (synthetic) nutrients can and do lead to imbalances which can be worse than the deficiencies!
Large doses of all the fat-soluble vitamins build up in the body—specifically the liver. Over time the inactive form of vitamin D produced by the interaction of the sun with your skin can’t be processed to make active Vitamin D.
It seems like we’re really messing up the body by adding high doses of stuff that will trash our livers in the long run. What a mess. As the inactive form of vitamin D passes through the liver and into the kidneys it becomes the active form of vitamin D which the body can use. This active form tells the intestines to take up calcium in the blood for the bones.
The skin, liver, kidneys and intestines have to all work properly to process vitamin D. In addition to these organs, studies have also found that the prostate, breasts, colon and other tissues are capable of activating the raw vitamin D stores generated in the skin via sunshine. The parathyroid gland senses if the body needs more or not. Production of the active form of Vitamin D is either increased or decreased as the body needs it. It’s all pretty complicated stuff and if you’re not a biochemist how do you keep track of all these interactions?
We now know that EVERY tissue and cell in your body has a vitamin D receptor indicating that every organ and tissue has a use for Vitamin D. Because we now know this about vitamin D, it no longer falls into the vitamin category. Technically it’s a hormone by definition.
Factors Affecting the Effectiveness of Vitamin D:
- American Western diets (too much processed foods and foods made with fake ingredients)
- Amount of time spent outside and physical activity
- Anticonvulsant drugs
- Gall bladder disease
- Geographic location
- Health status
- Intestinal disorders (gluten intolerance, celiac disease and more)
- Lack of skin integrity (scars from burns)
- Liver disease
- Mineral oil
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Plastic byproducts (PCB’s)
- Skin color
- Statin Drugs
- Trans fats
Is this making your head spin?
I guess the big questions are: Is our environment influencing the effectiveness and activation of our vitamin D levels? Is it obesity? What is the laboratory testing for? How is it being measured, and isn’t it just a snapshot in time? How does the lab test tell us if the vitamin D contained in our body is actually effective?
Some studies from the Institute of Medicine and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conclude that in actuality, only 8% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D. Who do you believe? The confusion is often due to lack of agreement on how to define adequate, inadequate or deficient blood serum levels. There are differences in the normal ranges from one lab to another which can vary by 10-25%. There is not yet consensus on what ‘normal values’ are for vitamin D.
Epidemiological vs. randomized clinical trials: Studies used in determining vitamin D levels have been epidemiological—which means that the evidence is focused on distribution of certain diseases or conditions among populations attempting to find connections with diet, lifestyle or other factors. Epidemiological trials do not prove cause and effect.
Does having a particular disease CAUSE a vitamin D deficiency or does being deficient in vitamin D cause the disease? Who knows at this point.
Randomized clinical trials to measure vitamin D in individuals are difficult to accomplish because of all the factors above. How do you standardize individuals? You can’t keep people from going outside or make them all eat specific diets. It just doesn’t work.
Effects of Toxic Doses of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is the most toxic of all the vitamins. Over time, I feel we’re going to see lots of clients with vitamin D toxicity effects.
- Bone pain
- Calcium retention and deposition into internal organs
- Chronic fatigue
- Depression (Note that vitamin D is also used to treat depression)
- Eye soreness
- Increased absorption of aluminum from aluminum-containing antacids (hey, doesn’t that cause Alzheimer’s?)
- Kidney stones
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain or weakness
Note that some of these symptoms are the same for not getting enough calcium but remember you can’t overdose on calcium by eating calcium rich foods just as you can’t overdose on vitamin D by spending time in the sun. And of course if you take the wrong calcium for your body, then you’ll end up with bone spurs, arthritis, gallstones, kidney stones. . .well, we need to move on.
Your skin knows how much vitamin D to make.
The BEST source of Vitamin D: All of these deficiencies could be ameliorated if we just ate healthy food, exercised and got some sun every day—sun without the sunscreen.
Government experts advise that we expose our face, arms, hands, legs OR back to the sun at least twice a week for only 10-15 minutes. Other sources say 30 minutes several times a week. Now all the fancy health clinics where people pay big bucks to be healed advocate sunshine as part of their healing protocols—you don’t have to pay for sunshine, you just have to get some. Gosh, it even makes you feel better just being in the sunshine.
Sunscreens: Did you know that Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation (the wavelength thought to cause skin cancer) is not filtered out by sunscreen? Really? Then why are we using it? When I was young it was recommended we stay out of the sun from 10am to 2pm or you would burn, but that’s exactly the time when the most UVB waves are present. These are the waves we need for optimal vitamin D production.
You don’t have to burn to get the positive effects of the sun. It’s even possible to get the sun’s effects under cloud cover or just by being under a shade tree, but windows block out UVB rays so sorry, you can’t get what you need behind any kind of window. Most tanning beds produce UVA rays, so if you want to tan in winter make sure the beds you are using have UVB rays.
How much vitamin D does the sunshine generate in the body? Ten to fifteen minutes of sunshine generates about 10,000-25,000 IU of vitamin D. Vitamin D is formed in the oily sebum of the skin so some vitamin D researchers advocate not bathing those areas exposed to the sunshine before or after exposure and to use only oil-based soaps when you do bathe so that the vitamin D produces on the skin won’t be washed off before absorbing into the skin.
Maybe it’s just time to get a tan. Get outside and stop using sunscreen for a while. It’s one of the oldest cures for disease.
References for Are You Taking Toxic Doses of Vitamin D:
- Vitamin D – The Known and (As Yet) Unknown By Judith A Decava, CNC, LNC Http://Nebula.Wsimg.Com/87f4d1b8c3f0678dbb1939ccc4d6f866?Accesskeyid=293d51054e433b199c81&Disposition=0
- Vitamin K Toxicity: http://www.livestrong.com/article/151110-vitamin-k-toxicity-symptoms/
- Vitamin D and Dr Michael Holick: http://vitamindhealth.org/
- Treating MS with Sunshine: Http://Www.Overcomingmultiplesclerosis.Org/Recovery-Program/Sunlight-And-Vitamin-D/
- Toxicity symptoms of fat-soluble vitamins: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09315.html
- Vitamin D and hair loss/baldness: http://www.prevention.com/beauty/beauty/vitamin-d-deficiency-may-cause-hair-loss