Vitamin D is a key component of many immune support protocols, especially in the past two years. To be sure, for many years now, Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to illness and supplementation has been the recommended course. However, with the focus on the C-virus, we are seeing more studies on this link, bringing acute awareness of Vitamin D supplementation to the general public. We are now regularly seeing headlines about how people with Vitamin D deficiency may be more likely to have more severe cases. This has spurred many people to purchase Vitamin D, which is readily available online and in local brick-and-mortar shops.
As a way to naturally enhance my immunity, I too started Vitamin D supplementation last year. Well, at least for a short time. However, soon after that, I started seeing information pop up about how Vitamin D supplementation may not be the answer. Moreover, it may worsen chronic ill health.
So what’s up, science?
Are we looking at correlation or causation?
Let’s Dig into Vitamin/Hormone D
Toxicologist Ashley Everly addressed this on her Facebook page and Telegram channel, first reminding us that Vitamin D is not a vitamin; it is a steroid hormone, and steroids suppress the immune system. As we know, we are not meant to take steroids long-term. They are used in acute situations with continual medical monitoring.
Furthermore, there are different forms of hormone D. People are mostly tested for D 25-Hydroxy or the storage form, even though we utilize the active form (D1,25 Dihydroxy or Calcitrol). Even then, which of the 25 forms of D25 is being tested? When a person is chronically ill, the storage form of hormone D decreases and this has been seen as an indicator of disease. Is it? Ashley Everly’s point is that people aren’t getting ill because their hormone D levels are low. Rather than the cause, low levels are an effect.
When someone is ill, bacteria is blocking Vitamin D receptors. As a response, the body increases the turnover of the storage form into the active form to increase binding. This shows up as a deficiency in tests and so the correlation.
Low storage D levels, Morley Robbins also shares, is a sign that our magnesium is low and so our iron is high, with low magnesium being a marker of inflammation and iron driving inflammation. (He explains the role of suppression by hormone D versus down-regulation of retinol in his chat with Dr Ben Edwards.)
According to Morley Robbins, the key is not to look at D levels as high or low; rather as miles/gallon. What’s going on with the other factors that are impacting efficiency and metabolism? Why is the body not self-regulating properly?
Isolated supplementation is not addressing why hormone D levels are low. Because the underlying cause is not being looked at, the body is not healing and worse, the chronic illness deepens. To Morley Robbins, hormone D is a “dynamic indicator of metabolic homeostasis and integrity”. Energy deficiency is the cause of symptoms, he says.
Back in 2008, Trevor Marshall, PhD, professor at Murdoch University School of Biological Medicine and Biotechnology published a paper on this topic. In it, he explains the role Vitamin D Nuclear Receptors (VDR) play in gene repression and transcription, including the expression of antimicrobial peptides, the body’s response to infection. He sees the VDR as “the heart of innate immunity.”
His research shows that synthetic Vitamin D blocks VDR activation and even nominal amounts can suppress the immune system.
This is only one of many significant thoughts on D supplementation. Morley Robbins shares many more in his talk and other resources available on The Root Cause Protocol website. Another expert to research is Jim Stephenson Jr of Secosteroid Hormone D FB group.
Kristin, the founder of Sassy Holistics, also does not recommend “blind supplementation” which is effectively what’s happening these last two years. For her, “isolated, synthetic Vitamin D makes us absorb calcium in all the wrong places, it is hard on our liver and kidneys, it destroys Vitamin A stores, as well as potassium and magnesium.” Furthermore, she sees “adrenal fatigue, thyroid disorders, renal failure, insomnia, kidney stones, and even hospitalizations” for low potassium and high blood pressure as well as calcification of the placenta, as a result of supplementation of isolated Vitamin D.
Back to Basics
“Healthcare” has been cartesian-based, that each part is separate. The approach is fixing and suppressing the symptoms with pharmaceutical interventions.
Many people are sick, so much of it comes from chronic stress. In the last two plus years, the world has been subjected to constant, if not daily, tallies of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. The impact of this exposure cannot be underestimated, coupled with uncertainty of what’s really going on. This singular focus has made finding ways to evade illness a primary goal. It is no wonder DYI supplementation has increased manifold, with practitioners seeing more cases of toxicity.
So is D deficiency a cause or an effect?
Your microbiome vibrates with sun exposure…Sunlight switches on genes that strengthen the immune system, gut linen, and even increase the types of bacteria living within you. Sunlight is the most powerful probiotic enhancing agent we have access to.Dr Steven Lin
Obviously I’m not a medical doctor or a researcher. What I’m sharing is what I’ve come across or turned up in my own search for answers.
It appears to me that widespread low D levels may be indicative of underlying inflammation, infection, and a lack of systematic homeostasis. Hormone D levels can be depleted by gut dysbiosis and disease of the liver and kidney. So to actually utilize this important hormone, we need a healthy gut, liver, and kidneys.
Many researchers and experts are saying there is actually no true deficiency. There may be underlying genetic mutations in the VDRs that warrant looking into. Even this, we have to take with a grain of salt as it is the environment that determines the expression of genes. A complex subject, indeed.
Supplementation is a tricky thing. I know our soils are depleted; yet we are meant to get our D primarily from sunlight and then a smaller portion from our diet. Sometimes we forget how intelligent our body is and how Mother Nature takes care of us. As a species, we tend to overcomplicate things, try to outsmart, capitalize on, or commoditize nature.
My question for myself and for you is – how is your foundation? Do you have the basics covered?
Here are some basics to look at
- Fresh air – get outside and breathe in nature (indoor air is much more polluted than people realize)
- Sunlight – get sunlight which we need to naturally synthesize Vitamin D. Get outside as windows generally contain UVB blockers and UVB rays are what triggers D production. Plus UVA rays are harmful. All we really need is 10 – 15 minutes or when the skin becomes flushed and pink, not burned. If you burn easily, it’s a sign of underlying inflammation. Remember, the lighter your skin, the less time in the sun you require as you absorb sunlight faster than those with darker skin.
- Full spectrum sunlight – we need sunlight for more than making hormone D. Sunlight is healing. Go for early morning or late afternoon walks to soak in life-enhancing rays.
- Movement – this is not necessarily going to the gym, it’s moving the body, like walking, dancing, and not sitting or being sedentary.
- Address sources of stress and find ways to minimize the effects of stress. What pressures and conditioning forces in your life are guiding your life, instead of navigating as yourself? The mind is a tricky thing. Check out Human Design to see how we are wired to make decisions. HeartMath is also a fantastic approach to greater coherence.
- Oxygenate – breathe more fully. Expel the stagnant air and make room for the new. Do you breathe through the mouth, especially when you sleep?
- Sleep quality. Do you wake up rejuvenated? Are you pushing in life? Are you resting enough?
- Gut microbiome – improving our gut flora is so important, the gut being one of the body’s “brains”. Take note especially if you take antibiotics. A healthy gut flora can even correct “malfunctioning” VDRs and other misfirings in the body. DNA expression is modified by our environment, including our internal environment.
- Nutrition – eat real food and increase nutrition in our diet in general. To supplement naturally, consider these sources of D – mushrooms (dried in the sun versus artificial light), halibut, sockeye salmon, mackerel, and cod liver oil. Notice oily fish are in the higher latitudes where we go without UV-r for a good portion of the year. Still, we have enough hormone D in storage. From the sun and food, we also get a variety of D, as opposed to the one form with synthetic supplementation. Food is light so the amount of vitamins from supplementation cannot equal to what we get from food.
- Consider eating seasonally and locally so the information received by the gut and our eyes is synced and not confuse our natural rhythms.
- Look at other factors, such as magnesium, which we require to properly use Vitamin D. Note that magnesium is depleted quickly when we are stressed. Other co-factors are boron, Vitamin K2, Vitamin A (retinol is the “light sensor”), and cholesterol.
- According to eastern medicine, there is a relationship between our emotions and organs. Excessive emotion can disrupt the energy of an organ and improper functioning of the organ can imbalance the emotion. For liver, it is anger; for the kidneys, it’s fear. What’s your approach to feeling angry, frustrated, timid, and fearful? Where and when do these arise? The last two years especially have been an emotional roller coaster, with many people suffering from deteriorating mental health. Do you have an effective way to reduce stress and move through your emotions? I have deepened my own practice of Jin Shin Jyutsu and am teaching more in one-on-one sessions and workshops.
There are only three reasons why we lose our health : physical damage, toxicity, and nutritional deficiency. There’s no fourth reason.Clive de Carle, leading health researcher
Here are a few studies to get you started on reading about this topic of Vitamin D, its role in immune response, and being well.