Athletic Advantage

Where Intensity Meets Intelligence

Strength and Conditioning, Nutrition and Sport Psychology Coaching

Vitamin D3..whats the deal?

Vitamin D3 is THE most important vitamin for our health..EVER. 

I hope my title was compelling enough for you to make the decision to take the time to read my entire article. I have deliberately chosen every word, and just like my workouts, there is nothing extraneous. If you still aren’t intrigued, Vitamin D3 can be the KEY to weight loss…I know that will get your attention!

Most of my clients are semi-aware of ‘health’ issues because they make a moderate effort to read, hear things in passing, and talk to friends. They know that getting their D3 levels tested is important, but probably do not know why. By going to a regular medical practitioner (notice I do not use the word doctor, because going to medical school does not qualify anyone in my opinion), they learn that their levels of ‘D’ are either adequate or deficient according to the ‘norm.’ The problem is that the ‘norm’ is the average D3 levels of the obese, unhealthy population. The norm that they use as a benchmark is 25 mg/ml. The norm that should be used as a benchmark is 80-100 ng/ml!! Studies show, 99% of the population above the Mason Dixon line are deficient in D3. Even if your practitioner says that your levels are fine, they are NOT. 

The scientific literature is overwhelmed with data that confirm what all these experts have seen. The bottom line is that virtually every disease and adverse health condition is associated with low vitamin D3 levels. Consequently, many of these problems may be fixed with adequate vitamin D3 supplementation, or can be avoided by keeping vitamin D3 levels in the high normal range.

For a long time vitamin D3 was simply regarded as the anti-rickets and bone health vitamin – an underwhelming bit of evidence. Because it was originally labeled as a vitamin, it was assumed that it was something that only needed to be taken by those who don’t “eat well.” Most clients tell me, “I drink milk, I don’t need calcium of Vitamin D3.” The details of this will be saved for another article, but the bottom line is, that is ignorant. Dairy makes your body acidic, and in an acidic environment, calcium and minerals are leached from your body in a struggle to make your body alkaline again. Even if you ate perfectly, flooding your system with dark leafy greens and basking in the sun for hours a day, chances are you STILL need to supplement with D3. It is no longer considered to be a vitamin. Now it is more properly recognized as a prohormone that is essential to life. Even if it were only good for bone health, vitamin D3 still would be an important supplement, but the benefits go way beyond just bone health.

Charles Poliquin has compiled a comprehensive list of peer reviewed research on the importance of vitamin D3. If you do not have time to actually read the research (I understand), just look at the titles of the studies and you will get the idea. 

  1. Rickets, bone density, osteoporosis, osteopenia, osteomalacia: Low levels of vitamin D contribute to osteopenia and fractures. JAMA. 2002;287:3127-3129.
  2. Fetal brain development and maternal health: Med Hypotheses. 2010 Jan;74(1):71-5. Epub 2009 Aug 18.
  3. Psoriasis: “Hyperproliferative skin disorders such as psoriasis might be responsive to treatment with vitamin D….” “[Treatment with vitamin D] …showed great improvement in reducing the severity and area of psoriatic lesions.” Holick, MF. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2006 Mar;81(3):353-73. 
  4. Cancer: “Both prospective and retrospective epidemiologic studies indicate that levels of 25-OH D below 20 ng [nanograms] per milliliter are associated with a 30 to 50% increased risk of incident colon, prostate, and breast cancer, along with higher mortality from these cancers….” “Vitamin D either directly or indirectly controls more than 200 genes, including genes responsible for the regulation of cellular proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and angiogenesis.” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  5. Blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance: “Vitamin D deficiency increased insulin resistance, decreased insulin production, and was associated with the metabolic syndrome.” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  6. Depression and other neurological concerns: “Several studies suggest an association between hypovitaminosis D and basic and executive cognitive functions, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.” Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2009 Feb;11(1):12-9.
  7. Multiple Sclerosis: “High circulating levels of vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of multiple sclerosis.” JAMA. 2006;296:2832.
  8. Immune function: “When serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D fall below 20 ng per milliliter, the monocyte or macrophage is prevented from initiating this innate immune response” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  9. Cold, flu, and respiratory tract infection: shortened duration of symptoms in study of African women.
  10. Symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions: Vitamin D deficiency affects the immune system’s capacity to self-regulate and can therefore lead to tissue damage via overproduction of potentially pathogenic cytokines.
  11. Hypertension and congestive heart failure: “In a study of patients with hypertension who were exposed to ultraviolet B radiation three times a week for 3 months, 25-OH D levels increased by approximately 180% and blood pressure became normal.” “Vitamin D deficiency is associated with congestive heart failure.” Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  12. Muscle mass and strength: “Vitamin D deficiency causes muscle weakness.” “Performance speed and proximal muscle strength were markedly improved when 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels increase from 4 to 16 ng per milliliter (10 to 40 nmol [nanomole] per liter) and continued to improve as the levels increase to more than 40ng per milliliter (100 nmol per liter). Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(3):266-81.
  13. 1Weight Loss: “For every increase of 1 ng/mL in level of 25-OH D3, subjects ended up losing almost 0.2 kg more on their calorie-restricted diet.” Shalamar Sibley, prepublication report for the Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting. 
  14. And even longevity, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, thyroid conditions…

…and this just scratches the surface of the research! 

Taking a regular D3 supplement in small doses will not restore your deficiency. Poliquin recommends flooding your system for 3 weeks and then taking a maintenance dose, assuming that your levels are adequate at that point. For more information on this protocol, please come see me. I take Poliquin’s D3 Excellence and can order it for you.