Vitamin D: Case of a Mistaken Identity!

Breaking news in vitamin world: a vital hormone has been mistakenly known and referred to as a vitamin for years! It has been receiving huge claim in recent years as more and more studies point to its necessity in the prevention and treatment of many of today’s chronic diseases including cancer! This vital hormone is no other than the Sunshine Vitamin (Vitamin D3) from here on justifiably referred to as its much deserved accurate name: CHOLECALCIFEROL. SAD vitamin D depression winter sunlight naturopath london ontario

No one article can do Cholecalciferol its due justice however, here’s an attempt at outlining the basics known thus far of this essential hormone naturally provided to us through the suns’ warming rays:

Bone health

  • Of no surprise to most, low blood vitamin D levels are associated with rickets, falls, and low bone mineral density, whereas supplementation with vitamin D and calcium improves bone mineral density, as well as decreases the risk of falls and fractures (1).

Mortality

  • Low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with increased mortality(2). Supplemental vitamin D3 appears to decrease all cause mortality, with the best evidence of a benefit in elderly women. Other forms of the vitamin (D2, etc.) do not appear to be of any benefit. Also deficiency levels of vitamin D appear to cause abnormal functioning and premature aging(3).

Cancer

  • Low vitamin D levels are associated with some cancers. From breast to prostate, to colorectal to brain cancers, and even basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer), Cholecalciferol has been shown to arrest the growth and death of tumour cells (4).

Auto-immune Disorders

  • Cholecalciferol has been shown to have immune modulating effects in conditions such as mutliple sclerosis.

Influeneza

  • Countries in the northern hemisphere where there is limited exposure to the sun and hence low blood cholecalciferol have a higher prevalance of infectious outbreaks.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Also known as SAD, is a mood disorder occuring in the winter months for which exposure to natural sunlight and supplementation with Cholecalciferol have been shown to improve the associated symptoms (depression, low energy, carbohydrate cravings, etc.).

Cholecalciferol is a vast topic to summarize in one article and hence there’s much more to come. Future blogs will cover the specifics of the above mentioned benefits, safe supplementation including the harmful versus beneficial FORMS of the vitamin, as well as the controversy surrounding sun exposure and skin cancer versus the beneficial effects of the sun, and more…

And don’t forget, the thus far known “sunshine vitamin” is a lot more than just a vitamin. It is in reality a hormone known as CHOLECALCIFEROL ;)


References:

1. Cranney, A; Horsley, T, O’Donnell, S, Weiler, H, Puil, L, Ooi, D, Atkinson, S, Ward, L, Moher, D, Hanley, D, Fang, M, Yazdi, F, Garritty, C, Sampson, M, Barrowman, N, Tsertsvadze, A, Mamaladze, V (2007 Aug). “Effectiveness and safety of vitamin D in relation to bone health.”. Evidence report/technology assessment(158): 1–235.

2. Zittermann, A; Gummert, JF, Börgermann, J (2009 Nov). “Vitamin D deficiency and mortality.”. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 12 (6): 634–9.

3. Walter F., PhD. Boron (2003). “The Parathyroid Glands and Vitamin F”. Medical Physiology: A Cellular And Molecular Approaoch. Elsevier/Saunders. p. 1094.

4. Fleet JC, Desmet M, Johnson R, Li Y. (2012). Vitamin D and cancer: a review of molecular mechanisms. Biochem J. 2012 Jan 1;441(1):61-76.

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About NDNegin

Practicing Naturopathic Doctor based in London, Ontario. Available for appointments at Middlesex Spine & Sport Clinic and Stonetown Chiropractic & Wellness Centre.
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5 Responses to Vitamin D: Case of a Mistaken Identity!

  1. Is it true that vitamin D2 is derived from vegan (yeast) sources and Vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources?

    • When speaking about supplements…that is.

    • NDNegin says:

      Hi there Savvy Sister!
      Yes, you’re absolutely right. Vitamin D2 is a fungus/yeast derived product while Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is from animal sources (wool).
      (Vitamin D2 is synthetically made from radiating a compound (ergosterol) from the mold ergot. Vitamin D3 is made commercially and synthetically in a similar way that it is produced intrinsically in human and animal skin when exposed to UVB light. Wool sources of 7-dehydrocholesterol are used (from cholesterol), and irradiatied to form active vitamin D3)

      • So vegans should look for Vitamin D2 supplements I guess…

      • NDNegin says:

        That’s a bit tricky. I’d actually not recommend D2 at all for anyone -studies have shown D2 to increase rates of mortality. It isn’t the active hormone and thus of no use to you unless and until it is exposed to sunlight. The whole point of supplementation with Vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol is because of the lack of adequate sun exposure in winter as well as the public scare of skin cancer -which is absolute nonsense since moderate sun exposure reduces risk of skin cancer. If someone is unable to be slightly lenient with their veganism, I’d suggest daily sun exposure of minimum of 10 minutes in Spring and Summer, and a tanning salon (not beds) which include UVB rays or alternatively a winter vacation to a sunny destination to fill up you Vitamin D reserves :)
        Bottom Line: Vitamin D2 is of no use to your body without sun exposure and you’re doing your body more harm by supplementing with D2!

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