Blog 121 Optimize Vitamin D and Support Immunity
One of many ways to optimize immune function is through proper nutrition, including good Vitamin D levels. Opinions vary about the best Vitamin D range, but from my research of varied medical and nutritional literature, I have concluded the best range falls between 40 and 80 ng/mL. Some people say that it is best to have values between 80 and 100 ng/mL when working to prevent viral, or other, infections. Levels of 30 ng/mL and below can be problematic, and should be raised by sunlight exposure, nutrient supplementation, and improved diet.
Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, can perform many functions, including supporting healthy bone density, reducing pain and inflammation, reducing rheumatoid arthritis joint pain, soothing and smoothing skin, healing gastric ulcers, and protecting against infection, especially in the winter. Additionally, The Mayo Clinic states that long-term Vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of multiple sclerosis and that low blood levels of tis vitamin are associated with cognitive decline. Some sources have observed that Vitamin D may sometimes help reduce depression and anxiety. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy may result in neonatal rickets, childhood asthma, and an increased tendency to develop autoimmune ailments, especially type 1 diabetes. The mother may suffer from pre-eclampsia, which may endanger both her and the baby.
The three best ways to obtain this vitamin/hormone are direct sunlight, especially in the warmer latitudes, nutritional supplementation, and whole foods. Tanning salons are not recommended. In the northernmost latitudes, it is necessary to obtain most of this vitamin from foods and supplements. Eskimos consume lots of fish and animal blubber, both of which are rich in Vitamin D. Other food sources of Vitamin D are egg yolks, fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies, mushrooms (Vitamin D2 only) and cod liver oil (also high in Vitamin A and a broad spectrum of omega fatty acids). Food quality is important for optimal nutrient absorption, so, if possible, choose wild caught fish, preferably from relatively clean waters, choose eggs from hens raised in optimal organic or biodynamic conditions and organically raised mushrooms. Cod liver oil should be obtained from fish living in as pure water as possible, such as the arctic regions. The oil should be minimally processed, if at all. Because of the relatively high levels of vitamin A to D, taking too much of this oil may cause problems for a developing fetus, so it shouldn’t be taken during pregnancy. Sun bathing and simple D supplements are preferable for pregnant women. People taking Statins, some blood pressure medications and Warfarin or other anti-coagulants generally should avoid this oil unless they consult their PCP and adjust the medication dosage to accommodate to the effects of this oil. For example, cod liver oil tends to lower blood pressure and also is a mild anti-coagulant. Some popular oil brands are Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, Carlson Wild Norwegian Cod Liver Oil and Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Some popular brands of Vitamin D3 are Essential Elements D3, Life Extension Vitamin D3, Nature Wise D3, and MegaFood Vitamin D3 for Immune and Bone Health.
Parts of the world population may have problems absorbing this nutrient. They include the elderly, the immunocompromised, darker-skinned people, those who have gastrointestinal conditions such as leaky gut, people who live in the northern latitudes, the overweight or obese, people with health issues involving liver or kidneys, people who live in areas with high air pollution, those who use sunscreen, and those with cool or cold skin. Sometimes, taking in a combination of Vitamins D, A and omega fatty acids will help improve absorption, as will taking a good probiotic, eating fermented foods, regulating blood sugar, getting enough sleep, improving food quality, sufficient hydration, exercising regularly and learning to relax and deal with stress more effectively. Checking the baseline blood level, making life or nutritional changes, if needed, and checking again in about six months will usually help optimize the level of this hormone.
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