In this article you’ll get to know the key Vitamin D facts in a simple Q&A. After listening to an in-depth podcast with Dr Rhonda Patrick, PhD in biomedical science, my understanding of the importance of Vitamin D increased immensely. She is an expert on nutritional health, brain and aging, and is well-known for her ability to convert complex science into understandable knowledge to everyone.
Below you will find Dr Rhonda Patrick’s approved health benefits of Vitamin D with links to essential references.
Let’s dive in!
A: Vitamin D is kind of a misnomer among the general public. The reason is that Vitamin D doesn’t really behave like a vitamin, rather it functions more like a hormone. Vitamin D3 is the form you typically consume in food, supplements or indirectly from the sun, but your body converts this into a steroid hormone called calcitriol. Once Vitamin D is turned into its active form, it travels throughout the body and plays a number of diverse and vital functions.
The full extent of vitamin D’s impact has yet to be fully understood. Nearly every cell and tissue in our body has vitamin D receptors (proteins that bind to vitamin D). In its active form, vitamin D can interact with the vast majority of the body’s cells.
A: Once Vitamin D is turned into its active form, it plays a key role in your overall health:
High levels of Vitamin D have been linked to stronger immune systems, while low levels are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
A: As we have seen, Vitamin D plays a key role in your overall health. In our age, the probability of Vitamin D deficiency is quite high, due to much more time inside and overuse of sunscreen when we first go outside. This makes it harder for us to conceive Vitamin D from the natural source – THE SUN. Our bodies rely upon UV-B light from the sun, so in places where the sun is pretty absent half the year, we don’t always get enough. And that’s before you subtract the fact of more inside time and sunscreen overuse…
To put it in our Covid-19 perspective: a recent Indonesian study showed sunlight exposure actually correlated significantly with recovery from Covid-19 among patients in Jakarta of Indonesia.
So, getting enough sunshine is not just a superficial thing you do to get tan. Natural Vitamin D conceived from the sun plays a major role in regulating the immune system. Perhaps also including immune responses to viral infection.
The best way to know if you are getting enough vitamin D is to get a blood test that measures your vitamin D levels.
A: Dr Rhonda Patrick has been consistent in pointed out the possible link between low vitamin D levels and increased severity of Covid-19 disease. Now that Covid-19 has been around for a few months, we’re starting to see research about vitamin D status as it relates to Covid-19. No sufficient data yet on vitamin D actually preventing illness, but still, the findings are valuable.
Several studies from the Philippines, Indonesia, New Orleans and Sweden points to vitamin D levels affecting “severity of outcome”. I.e. if someone has low levels of circulating vitamin D, they’re more likely to have a severe illness.
Also, a meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal found that vitamin D supplementation was safe and it protected against acute respiratory tract infection.
The Egyptians might have got it right more than 5000 years ago. The key message in Akhnatons Sun Anthem is “live by the sun”. They still do this many places in the world, but if you live in the northern hemisphere – enjoy the sun while you can!
Also, during long periods of faint sunshine, consider measuring your vitamin D levels, to see if supplements are needed.