Vitamin D is an extremely important substance for the body. Vitamin D has for a long time been know to be involved in calcium regulation and in tooth and bone building. However, lately, vitamin D is recognized to have hormone-like actions.
What are the sigsn and symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency?
According to Dr. Ray Peat, a vitamin D deficiency creates many issues, including:
- Calcification of soft tissues
- Calcification of the arteries and heart
- High blood presure
- Insulin restince
- Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)
- Sleep problems
- Muscle weeknes
- Immunsystem faliur
- Premature aging
- Inflmmation and degadation of tissues
What are the Different forms of vitamin D?
Vitamin D biology is filled with difficult terminology, and there is a lot of confusion about the function of the different forms of vitamin D.
Adding to the confusion, researchers are not agreeing on which form of vitamin D is the protective and essential form.
The three forms of vitamin D:
- Vitamin D3 (pre-vitamin D)
- 25-hydroxyvitamin D (storage form)
- 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D (activated form)
This blog post outlines the function of the different forms of vitamin D and how they affect human health and disease, as related to the research of Dr. Ray Peat.
What is Vitamin D3?
The form of vitamin D you get from sunlight, foods, and dietary supplements is called vitamin D3 (calciferol). Vitamin D3 ( pre-vitamin D) is not biologically active but is the precursor to the biological protective form of vitamin D.
What is Storage vitamin D?
The vitamin D3 you get from food, supplements, and the sun is converted in the liver to a biologically protective form of vitamin D called 25-hydroxyvitamin D (calcidiol).
The 25-hydroxyvitamin D is often referred to as storage vitamin D because the liver can store large amounts of this form of vitamin D.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, the name storage vitamin D can be misleading as it is this form of vitamin D that has so many beneficial effects on the body.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, storage vitamin D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D protects against inflammation, aging, bone loss, calcification of soft tissues, obesity, low metabolic rate, and much more.
What is a good vitamin D level in the blood?
When doctors evaluate your vitamin D status they measure the storage form of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) in the blood.
On a blood test, a level of 50-70 ng/ml of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is a good range to aim for.
But according to Dr. Ray Peat levels up to 150 ng/ml have not been found to create problems, especially if you have a diet high in calcium.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, the upper healthy blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is possibly around 150 ng/ml.
In some countries, the blood test for vitamin D is given in the unit nmmol/L. You can use this conversion program to change between the units of vitamin D.
When the liver is sick or sluggish you will have difficulty turning vitamin D3 (pre-vitamin D) into the protective 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
Thus if you are supplementing large amounts of Vitamin D3 and you are still low in 25–hydroxyvitamin D on the blood test you might have a liver inflammatory problem. In our Hypothyroid Treatment Program, we have more information on how to support your liver function.
What is the connection between vitamin D and Calcium?
Vitamin D is an essential calcium regulator. There is a lot of confusion in the medical world and the health community about calcium and its function in the body.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, you can explain the calcium metabolism as follows: When your diet is insufficient in calcium and vitamin D3, several hormones rise including the parathyroid hormone, prolactin, and cortisol. These three hormones are involved in chronic inflammation and disturbances of calcium regulation.
Elevated parathyroid hormone, prolactin, and cortisol all dissolve the bones, releasing calcium into the blood. If these hormones are elevated for a prolonged time it can lead to osteoporosis and calcification of arteries and soft tissues as well as kidney stones.
A diet sufficient in vitamin D3 and calcium is essential for keeping the blood levels of parathyroid hormone, prolactin, and cortisol low.
What is Activated vitamin D?
As explained above an elevation of the parathyroid hormones is involved in the release of calcium from the bones.
The way it works is that the parathyroid hormone makes the kidneys and other tissues convert the storage form of vitamin D into 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, also known as calcitriol or activated vitamin D.
This activated form of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D gives the signal to pull calcium out from the bones and into the bloodstream leading to hypercalcemia (high levels of calcium in the blood).
Some researchers believe that the activated form of vitamin D is beneficial.
But, according to Dr. Ray Peat, the name activated vitamin D is very misleading, as this form of vitamin D is very harmful to the body.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, activated vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D) contributes to:
- Calcification of soft tissues.
- Obesity and fat synthesis.
- Degeneration of tissues
- Inhibition of the metabolic rate
According to Dr. Ray Peat, the activated form of vitamin D is only produced in an emergency situation, when the body experiences a deficiency of the stored vitamin D (25- hydroxyvitamin D) and calcium.
Therefore the best way to protect yourself from the activated form of vitamin D is to have a diet sufficient in vitamin D3 and calcium.
Importantly you cannot avoid the formation of the harmful activated vitamin D by avoiding vitamin D3.
How much Vitamin D3 can I get from foods and sun?
According to Dr. Ray Peat, it is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D3 via your diet and sunlight alone, and a good vitamin D3 supplement is advisable and protective for many people.
Foods sources that are high in vitamin D are beef and calf liver as well as mushrooms. In our Hypothyroid Treatment Program, we go into details about our diet recommendations, which are based on the research of Dr. Ray Peat (“The Ray Peat Diet”).
A young person that is outside a lot might get enough vitamin D from the sun, but as we age our ability to synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure decreases.
In our Hypothyroid Treatment Program, you can learn more about how sunlight and light therapy can support your health.
If you live in a northern country without much sunlight you will most likely benefit from a supplement of vitamin D3.
What is a good Vitamin D3 supplement?
Many people benefit from a vitamin D3 supplement.
It is best to use an oily form of vitamin D3 either as drops or capsules.
There are many oily vitamin D3 supplements on the market, that contain MCT oil. However, it is best if vitamin D3 is dissolved in olive oil, as MCT oil can create allergy problems.
In our Nutritional Supplement Guide, we present a good capsule form of vitamin D3 that is dissolved in olive oil.
How much Vitamin D3 should I take?
According to Dr. Ray Peat, a good safe daily dosage of vitamin D3 is 5000 IU, although you often need a little more in the winter something around 10.000 IU.
If you have been low for vitamin D on the blood test, you can take around 20.000 IU of vitamin D3 daily until your blood values are high enough. Sometimes even starting out with a single dosage of 50.000 – 100.000 IU can be helpful.
In theory, it is possible to supplement too much vitamin D3. In order to estimate if you are getting enough or too much vitamin D3, it is advisable to have a blood test for vitamin D a couple of times per year.
As explained above you should aim for a blood test of 25-hydroxyvitamin D between 50 -70 ng/ml.
If you are lower than 50 ng/ml for 25-hydroxyvitamin D, you need to supplement more vitamin D3.
Should I take a calcium supplement?
The functions of vitamin D and calcium are tightly connected, and a diet high in calcium is essential for good long-term health.
According to Dr. Ray Peat getting around 2000 mg of calcium per day is very protective and necessary for keeping the parathyroid hormone down into a safe range.
Most people are not getting nearly enough calcium. In our Calcium Guide, you will get information on the calcium content of different calcium-rich foods, so you can reach the daily requirements of 2000 mg of calcium.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, a good calcium supplement should be in the form of natural calcium carbonate as is found in eggshells and oyster shells.
Our Hypothyroid Treatment Program teaches you to make your own calcium supplement from powdered eggshells.
Our Nutritional Supplement Guide presents a good oyster shell-based calcium supplement.
From the sun, foods, or supplements we get a pre-vitamin D substance called Vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 is converted in our body to the biological protective form of vitamin D (25-hydroxyvitamin D) also called storage vitamin D.
25-hydroxyvitamin D is essential for good health, including good thyroid function and optimal calcium regulation.
It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun and foods alone, and many people benefit from a vitamin D3 supplement.
A safe daily dosage of vitamin D3 is 10.000 IU, but larger dosages can be used for a period if your blood test has shown low 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
You should aim to have a blood level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D between 50 ng/ml -70 ng/ml.
In a calcium and vitamin D, deficiency, the 25-hydroxyvitamin D is activated in an attempt to correct things, but the activated form of vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D) has many negative side effects.
Having a diet high in vitamin D3 and calcium protect against the activated form of vitamin D and all the side effects related to a vitamin D deficiency.
In our Nutritional Supplement Guide, we present good vitamin D and Calcium supplements.
We also refer to our Hypothyroid Treatment Program, which explains our diet and lifestyle recommendations.
If you need help to understand our diet and supplement recommendation we are available for online consultations.