Are You Taking the Right Vitamin D?
Are we talking about vitamin D imposters? Yes, but don't worry it's just the government regulation to fortify processed foods with a synthetic form of vitamin D. Do you know why they do that? Because they took the right form out in the first place.
The American government mandated in 1932 that all milk be fortified with a synthetic form of vitamin D and since then fortification has gone rampant including orange juice, cereals, and more.
My concern is not that the government is tampering with my food, I appreciate the concern. However, I'm concerned that we are seeing the opposite of the desired outcome from this fortification. Instead of a vitamin D rich society, we're suffering with epidemic deficiencies.
Why on Earth are there so many people with vitamin D deficiencies?
Is it that Americans are working out in the sunlight much less and indoors much more, or is it that this fortification with synthetic vitamin D2 isn't working as planned? It's honestly both.
What is the right form of vitamin D?
Vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, is the form that is converted from cholesterol in our skin when we are exposed to sunlight. Two very important factors pop out here, sunlight and cholesterol. I hope you are getting enough of both.
Mandatory Daily Sunlight - 20 minutes skin exposed, without sunscreen
Mandatory Cholesterol Rich Foods - full of vitamin D and vitamin D cofactors
- eggs with yolks
- liver from healthy animals on pasture
- wild caught sardines
- grass-fed beef
- whole organic cream
- organic plain yogurt
- real organic butter
- pork from pasture
- lamb from pasture
- wild caught tuna
- chicken skin from pastured animals
- whole organic milk
- wild caught salmon
Vitamin D2, ergocalciferol, is a plant based form that is not readily available for the body. It causes stress because the body has to convert it to the right form. "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that Vitamin D2 supplementation actually caused a reduction in overall serum concentrations of vitamin D over 28 days." - The Micronutrient Miracle by Calton and Calton.
So we can point our finger at the fortification of vitamin D2.
This makes me scratch my head. Historically, a typical American plate may contain liver and onions, eggs, and a glass of raw milk. However, our government stepped in to remove the fats from our foods creating skimmed milks, and warned us of eating fatty meats, egg yolks, and liver.
The silly thing is that red meat, liver, chicken skin, whole milk, and egg yolks have the appropriate form of vitamin D3. The foods we were warned to omit all have natural forms of vitamin D3 with the necessary cofactors we need to absorb and utilize vitamin D3, so why were we told to avoid them?
Unfortunately, the government advised the dairy council to remove the fat and thus took the fat soluble vitamins with it. Then they immediately turned around and became the hero, offering synthetic vitamin D2 to replace that beautiful rich fat that naturally came with REAL food.
One of the reasons D2 fortification became a government concern was rickets; a bone disease in children where mineral deficiencies lead to bone deformity. Sorry, but rickets is not simply a vitamin D deficiency disease, it's much more complicated and has a lot more to do with a complex group of minerals that must be absorbed together.
The fact is that the body needs many cofactors in order to absorb vitamin D. The reason eating from the mandatory vitamin D list above works better than fortification is that the cofactors of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc and other minerals are all in the foods.
This was explained beautifully by the director of the Nutritional Therapy Association, Gray Graham. He said and I summarize:
Eating REAL food is like wearing a watch with every component synergistically working to tell the exact time. However, taking a supplemental form is like wearing a broken watch. All the pieces are still there but they don't work!
This is what I see happening with our food system. Instead of simply eating the food that nature provides in it's whole form, fat and all. We break it up into broken parts and expect it to work.
This is why I use food as medicine and I prefer a cod liver oil if supplementation is necessary. Cod liver oil is a food source that will contain the appropriate cofactors necessary to absorb and utilize the vitamin D. If your levels are dangerously low then taking 2000 iu of vitamin D3 supplementation daily with 1 tsp cod liver oil or any of the Mandatory Vit D rich Foods above should offer a balance of cofactors.
Most importantly, don't forget to get outside in the sunshine at least 20 minutes a day with exposed skin. Finally, exert your rights as a consumer to REAL nutrient dense food. Don't support the food companies that fortify with cheap knock offs like vitamin D2.