At The Aesthetics HQ, I frequently recommend that patients check and supplement their vitamin D3 levels.
Vitamin D is vital in the body for calcium and prosperous absorption from your intestines. It also stimulates the formation of new bone.
What patients don’t always know about vitamin D, is that it is important for so much more. Vitamin D is important both in immunity, cancer, and chronic diseases:
•Colorectal cancers and melanomas show improved outcomes on vitamin D.
•Cardiovascular disease and diabetes shows improved outcome with vitamin D.
•Depression and cognitive function improves with vitamin D.
•Autoimmune diseases require increased vitamin D.
It is also worth noting that any disease states that increase systemic inflammation (measured by a HS – CRP level on a blood test), will decrease your vitamin D absorption.
How can we be deficient in vitamin D in South Africa, if it requires sunlight?
Vitamin D levels are lower in populations who have decreased sunlight hours, such as Europe and Northern America. We are seeing in it sunny countries such as South Africa due to sun-avoidance. People avoid the sun and use sunblock as the sun causes photo-aging (wrinkles, thin skin, pigment changes); skin cancer and pigmentation disorders.
- Darker skin types also require increased time exposed to the sun to create sufficient vitamin D levels for health.
- People may not have sufficient dietary intake of vitamin D to compensate for the insufficient sun exposure.
- Medications such as anti-epileptics increase a person’s vitamin D requirements.
- Obese patients have lower vitamin D levels.
- Liver and kidney disease patients need more vitamin D.
What is Vitamin D2 and what is Vitamin D3?
Doctors will recommend that you take vitamin D3 over vitamin D2 every time. Vitamin D2 is also known as ergocalciferol. Vitamin D3 is known as cholecalciferol and is the “natural” active form of vitamin D the body makes on ultra-violet exposure from the sun.
Vitamin D2 isn’t a natural form of vitamin D seen in human physiology – it is a plant based vitamin D.
Vitamin D3 therefore has a far better bioavailability in the body – it is basically better absorbed and more active.
Vitamin D2, although often found in supplements and food, has a short shelf-life. The actual level of D2 in supplements and food is generally far lower than the packaging states for this reason.
Vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 also cost the same price-wise – so it makes sense to supplement with D3 over D2.
Vitamin D3 is however, animal derived. Vegans and vegetarians may have to take vitamin D2 purely due to their belief systems.
Vitamin D3 is easily supplemented – it is best taken either once a week in high dose, or daily in smaller doses. This is dosed according to blood test levels.
Vitamin D3 is synthesized on sunlight exposure, or found in egg yolk and seafood. It can also be found in certain mushrooms, such as Reishi.
Dr Claire Jacobsohn
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