Vitamin D: A Prohormone
Before we fully transitioned the clinic from Teff Chiropractic to Optimum Vitality, I consulted with healthcare practitioners across the state, helping integrate nutrition into their care. I often heard them tell their patients they needed Vitamin D in the winter here in Wisconsin, but why? The canned response was always, “We don’t get enough so we need to take it.” To their credit, that’s true. But why? Vitamin D is not a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone (prohormone to be precise). Here’s the skinny on Vitamin D and truly why it is so important.
- Vitamins were isolated and labeled in the early 1900's, originally called "Vita Amines" as in, Vital Amino Acids. Clearly, we didn't quite know what they were or what they did.
- Vitamin D was the 4th "vitamin" discovered. The first was named "Vitamin A", the second "Vitamin B" and so forth. The researchers at the time didn't know what these things did, except that they were vital. Without such, disease occurred. A vitamin is defined as a substance that is not made naturally by the body but must be supplied in the diet to maintain life processes. We make Vitamin D from ultraviolet light, therefore, it's not a vitamin.
- Vitamin D got labeled as the sunshine vitamin much later in time. Remember, in the 20's we still didn't know what each vitamin did. We didn't even know that B vitamins were part of one whole unit or complex.
- In the Northern climates, we stop making Vitamin D mid-October through mid-April. Even if we're out walking or skiing, we're not making it.
- Vitamin D is actually a prohormone. What does that mean? Well, hormones are messengers in the body, affecting numerous parts of the body. Without Vitamin D, we don't just develop one disease. No, without it, multiple processes break down.
- Hormones play a role with bone health, gut microbiome, inflammation, brain health and neurological signaling. Women, without enough Vitamin D, you better believe your brain, energy and thought processes will be affected. It's not always the estrogen (or lack therefore) 😉
- The lab range for Vitamin D is 30 - 80. The functional range is 60 - 80. Most people living in Northern climates have a Vitamin D between 30 and 40. Much too low! Remember, if you're not getting enough sun in the summer and/or your liver is compromised and cannot convert to Vitamin D, you may need to take it year round.
- When blood values for Vitamin D fall below 25, you can experience drastic mood swings, debilitating depression, heighten anxiety, apathy and/or increased pain receptors.
The beauty with Vitamin D is that it's safe for nearly all ages to take. Some Vitamin D is more absorbable than others. Vitamin K2 helps the body absorb and convert Vitamin D. If you're worried about immunity this winter, maybe start with Vitamin D. A typical dose for those of us living in the northern climate is 2,000 - 5,000 IU daily.