Vitamin D has long been a passion of mine. Over the years, I’ve written books and published papers on this unique nutrient, and it has never failed to astound me.
And I’m thrilled to say that it isn’t only me who is interested in this fascinating nutrient. Research is literally exploding on vitamin D – and for good reason.
Two major points have emerged in recent years...
- We now know vitamin D is more important for health than we ever dreamed.
- The incidence of vitamin D deficiency is becoming more common.
It’s never been a higher priority than it is today to have sufficient vitamin D stores to support your immune function, respiratory, bone and cellular health, and so much more.
A fat-soluble steroid hormone, vitamin D penetrates nearly every cell in your body and actually passes into the cell’s nucleus to control the expression of as many as 3,000 genes.
This means vitamin D actually modifies how the cells in your body behave and function.
I can honestly say, based on my research, vitamin D3 may be the most important nutrient for health, especially your immune health.
Vitamin D receptors are found in many different tissues and cells in your body, including your immune cells.
This presence of receptors is proof that vitamin D plays a key role in your immune function. Studies show vitamin D supports your overall immune function by its influence on both your innate, or frontline protection, and adaptive immune responses.*
Why Most People May Be Deficient in Vitamin D
As more people test their serum levels, we’re learning that few people are getting enough vitamin D.
In fact, many individuals have dangerously low levels – far lower than what’s needed to support physical and mental health.
When your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, it produces vitamin D, or what’s known as the “sunshine vitamin.”
While direct sunlight exposure is, hands down, the best way to obtain vitamin D, few people get enough of the right kind of exposure to receive adequate supplies of the vitamin.
Yet, even among those taking vitamin D supplements, a study shows as many as 50% of individuals aren’t receiving significant benefits.
There are several reasons why your levels of vitamin D may be low. In a moment, I’ll share with you the most common reasons.
Because vitamin D is so crucial for your health, take a moment now and discover what may be keeping you from getting enough.
First, let’s figure out if you may be one of the many who are deficient in this crucial vitamin.
11 Signs You May Be Deficient in Vitamin D
One of the many things we’ve learned in recent years about vitamin D is that there are physical and mental signs of deficiency or sub-par levels. Here are 12 major ones:
- Aching muscles
Studies suggest that nerves have vitamin D receptors that can influence your perception of pain. Low levels of vitamin D may contribute to deep muscle hypersensitivity.*
- Painful bones
Because vitamin D regulates your body’s levels of calcium for bone health, low levels of vitamin D could cause your bones to soften.*
In one study of 174 patients with fatigue (but stable health), 77% were found to be deficient in vitamin D. Once serum vitamin D levels returned to normal, feelings of fatigue improved significantly.*
- Reduced muscle performance
Higher serum levels of vitamin D are associated with reduced injury rates and improved sports performance. Vitamin D plays key roles in muscle development, strength and performance.*
- Mood and cognitive function
Vitamin D helps buffer higher calcium levels in the brain, just like it does in your bones, making it essential for brain and neuron health, a healthy mood and proper cognitive function.*
- Cardiovascular and blood pressure concerns
Found to have a significant effect on the endothelial cells that line your cardiovascular system, vitamin D3 supports healthy circulation and blood pressure levels already in the normal range.*
- Poor sleep
Research has linked low levels of vitamin D with poor quality sleep and a greater risk of sleep issues.
- Excessive sweating
Abnormal sweating (especially on your head) or a change in how you sweat may suggest low levels of vitamin D.
- Hair loss
Vitamin D plays a key role in your hair cycle, and vitamin D receptors appear to be important for hair growth.
Animal models suggest vitamin D is crucial for the healthy development of the inner ear, which affects balance and coordination. Feelings of dizziness in human patients have been linked to lower serum vitamin D levels.*
- Excess weight
Data shows that overweight individuals tend to have lower levels of vitamin D.
As you can see, vitamin D (specifically the vitamin D3 form) has a far-reaching and significant impact throughout your body, affecting just about every function in your body.
Without a doubt, you need this nutrient for your optimal health, from head to toe. Let’s make sure you are getting enough...
How Location Influences Your Risk for Deficiency
The best way to obtain vitamin D is by exposing your skin to direct sunlight. However, depending on where you live, getting vitamin D this way may not be easy to do.
During the winter months, in non-tropical or subtropical locations, the sun’s rays have to penetrate extra layers of the atmosphere that essentially filter out most, if not all, of the ultraviolet (UVB) rays.
Yet, winter isn’t the only time of year people may not be able to produce enough vitamin D naturally and become at risk for deficiency...
A minimum of 10 to 15 minutes of regular, direct sun exposure on sufficient exposed areas of your body at the right time of day is needed for absorbing enough UVB rays to produce vitamin D.
Therefore, the risk is high throughout the year, with research suggesting that up to 85% of people may be vitamin D deficient.
The chart below shows how much UVB rays from direct sun exposure you can expect to receive throughout the year in the U.S. As you can see, in the months of January and February, the sun is simply not close enough anywhere in the U.S. for vitamin D synthesis to occur.
In some areas, there are many other months, too, where UVB rays will be hard to obtain, leaving you at risk for vitamin D deficiency. It can even be challenging during summer months in some regions to get enough natural vitamin D from the sun.
Note: If you live outside of the U.S., consult the Sun or Moon Altitude table to determine how far the sun is from your location at any given time.
Are You at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency?
Along with the fact that most people receive very limited sun exposure throughout the year, there are certain groups who may be at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency for other reasons.
You may be deficient if you...
- Spend minimal time outdoors and wear sunscreen.
Sunscreen filters out the UVB rays that produce vitamin D in your skin. Plus, showering right after sun exposure can also reduce your body’s production of the vitamin.
- Are over the age of 50.
As you age your skin loses the ability to generate vitamin D and your kidneys become less efficient at converting vitamin D to its active form. Plus, older individuals tend to spend more time indoors so they get less sun exposure.
- Have darker skin.
People with darker skin tones have higher melatonin levels, which block UVB radiation and limits the body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.
- Are overweight or obese.
Individuals who are overweight often have considerably higher needs for vitamin D because the nutrient can accumulate and become “trapped” in body fat, or adipose tissue, preventing it from getting to the blood. (Note that exercise may help release bound vitamin D from adipose tissue.)
- Have a gastrointestinal issue that affects fat absorption.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is absorbed with dietary fat. If you have an issue with absorbing fat, you are more likely to have low vitamin D levels.
Be aware, diet is not a reliable source of vitamin D. The majority of foods, including milk, don’t contain enough vitamin D to result in optimum levels in your blood.
Many people believe milk will provide them with adequate vitamin D, but that isn’t true. Milk is “fortified with vitamin D” and is not a natural source. The levels of vitamin D added to milk are far too low to meet your needs.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
The only way to know for sure if you are low in vitamin D is to check your blood serum levels regularly.
We offer convenient test kits in the Mercola Market to help you check your levels of vitamin D, along with other important vitamins and minerals, in the privacy of your home.
If your levels are low, I recommend either dramatically increasing your sun exposure time (if feasible) or take a vitamin D3 supplement.
How much supplemental vitamin D should you take?
Our recommended guidelines for vitamin D3 and optimal target serum levels have changed.
GrassrootsHealth now recommends a blood serum level of 50 ng/mL or higher for optimal immune and cellular health. While they used to recommend 40-60 ng/mL as the ideal level, the most recent data supports a minimum of 50 ng/mL for immune health.
My vitamin D3 recommendations are even higher... Based on the latest studies, I believe your blood level should be closer to 60 ng/mL to 80 ng/mL.
What should you do if your levels are significantly below these numbers (most people have much lower levels)?
Table 1 below by GrassrootsHealth provides a guide for correcting low levels of vitamin D using an upfront loading dose for fast results.
Using your results from a current vitamin D test, find your 25(OH)D serum levels in the left-hand column. Follow it across the chart for the recommended dosing and number of weeks to raise your levels to above 50 ng/ml.
If you don’t yet have your vitamin D test results or know your baseline serum level of vitamin D, there’s an alternative – yet less precise – way to know how much supplemental vitamin D to take.
Table 2 below uses a method based on your body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of the amount of body fat in your body based on height and weight.
As you can see below, overweight and obese individuals require substantially greater amounts of supplemental vitamin D than normal-weight individuals to reach and maintain a serum level of 50 ng/mL.
When correcting low levels, I recommend testing again in three to six months to make sure you are getting the right amount of vitamin D.
Avoid This Serious Mistake When Taking Vitamin D
As more and more people discover the value of vitamin D supplements for supporting their health, they are also more likely to make a potentially life-threatening mistake.*
When you take supplemental vitamin D, it is vitally important to also get enough vitamin K2. Not only do the two vitamins work synergistically, vitamin D needs vitamin K2 to function properly.
But there’s another even more important reason to take them together, involving your safety...
Vitamin D transports dietary calcium throughout your body. Vitamin K2 helps make sure the calcium ends up where it belongs – absorbed by your bones.
So, whenever you take a vitamin D3 supplement, be sure to also take vitamin K2.
That’s why we formulated Vitamins D3 & K2 – to help you get both vitamins at the same time in a single capsule.
Each one-capsule serving of this powerful combination provides the ideal amounts of Vitamin D3 and Vitamin K2 for a normal weight individual with already healthy serum levels (If you have low vitamin D serum levels or are not at your ideal weight, you may want to take more, discuss optimal dosing with your natural health practitioner).*
Vitamins D3 & K2...
- Supplies 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3, the optimal level for providing an effective daily dose for many, but not all, individuals (you may need to take more).
- Provides 180 mcg of Vitamin K2 as MenaQ7® – the optimal level of K2 in the first and only clinically proven form to promote healthy, flexible arteries and overall heart health as well as bone health.*
- Utilizes vitamin K2 produced from fermented chickpeas, which has proven to be one of the most bioavailable, stable and beneficial varieties.*
- Is soy-free to avoid potential allergen concerns.
- Uses only non-GMO ingredients.
- Comes packed in vegetarian-friendly capsules.
- Is free from magnesium stearate, a questionable ingredient added to some supplements to enhance product flow but doesn’t provide any nutritive benefits.
When looking for a top-quality vitamin K2 supplement, you will notice many brands don’t use MK-7, and if they do, it comes from fermented soy. To avoid soy allergens, we chose to use fermented chickpea in our Vitamin D3 & K2 formula.
With our Vitamins D3 & K2 formula, you get optimal absorption in an easy-to-take, one-a-day capsule serving, unlike some other formulas with MK-4.
Just like vitamin D can’t function properly without vitamin K2, vitamin K’s benefits are impaired by too little vitamin D – so you need both nutrients together.
Let’s explore some other reasons why vitamin K2 is so important to take...
Vitamin K2: The ‘Neglected Player’ in Heart Health
Vitamin K was discovered in the early 1930s, and two of its forms – K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone) – were identified early on. Only recently has the full value of vitamin K2 been recognized.
While vitamin K1 deficiency is rare, vitamin K2 deficiency has become very common among the general population in the U.S. Here’s why that matters...
Studies show vitamin K2 plays a key role in cardiovascular health through its ability to regulate calcium homeostasis and help maintain healthy, flexible arteries.
The good news is, if you have a vitamin K2 deficiency, bringing vitamin K levels up to normal, healthy levels, leading to...
- The development of healthy, flexible arteries for optimal cardiovascular health.*
- Proper calcium absorption and utilization.*
- Healthy, normal blood clotting.*
To maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels, your body must have sufficient amounts of both vitamins D3 and K2.*
Vitamin K2 for Your Brain, Bones, Muscles and Nerves
A K2 deficiency can impact many other body functions, too, including your...
- Bone and joint health – Vitamin K2 is needed to activate osteocalcin, an important protein secreted by osteoblasts, your bone-building cells. When activated, osteocalcin draws calcium into the bones to incorporate into the bone matrix. When combined with vitamin D3, the two vitamins help inhibit osteoclasts (cells promoting resorption of bone) to protect the healthy bone-building process.*
- Muscle health – Vitamin K2 plays an important role in muscle health by helping to maintain muscle mass and function, especially during aging. Muscle cramping can be a sign of degenerating muscle health. Supplementation with vitamin K2 in a study of 19 elderly patients resulted in dramatic improvement of frequency, severity and duration of pain during cramping.
- Brain health and cognition – Sufficient levels of both vitamins D and K2 are required for optimal brain health and cognition. By activating MGP, vitamin K2 supports healthy calcium homeostasis, flexible arteries and blood flow in your brain, just like the rest of your body.*
- Mood and nervous system health – Vitamin K2 is involved in the production of sphingolipids, an important class of lipids found in high concentrations in brain and central nervous system cell membranes. A study showed a link between vitamin K2 status and mood; higher levels are associated with improved mood.*
- Eye health – Vitamin K2 is associated with healthy eye tissues as you age, as MGP plays a role in eye health as well. MGP is abundant in your eyes, where it helps maintain calcium homeostasis and preserve the structural integrity of eye tissues, the sclera and retinal ganglion cells.*
- Mitochondrial health – Vitamin K2 plays a role in energy production by improving electron transport in the mitochondria – the energy powerhouses in your cells – leading to more efficient ATP production.*
- Metabolic health – Involved in glucose metabolism, vitamin K2 promotes insulin sensitivity through its involvement with osteocalcin. It also helps maintain a healthy inflammatory response through an important signaling pathway.*
The First and Only Clinically Proven Vitamin K2
Of the four different varieties of vitamin K2 – MK-4, MK-7, MK-8 and MK-9 – I prefer MK-7. It’s the easiest form for your body to absorb and because it has a half-life of three days, it stays in your body longer, which allows for consistent blood levels to build.
Studies show the MK-7 form of vitamin K2 provides the optimal vitamin K status in your body to activate the vitamin K-dependent protein MGP.
We use a patented form of MK-7, MenaQ7® in our Vitamins D3 & K2. The first and only clinically proven vitamin K2 for cardiovascular and bone health, MenaQ7® also offers potential benefits for your muscle and nervous system health, as well as optimal blood flow in your brain.*
What makes MenaQ7® so superior? It is...
- The longest-lasting, most bioavailable and bioactive form of vitamin K2.
- Clinically shown to support bone strength and bone mass.*
- Guaranteed to have a high level of purity for quality, safety and efficacy.
- Free from gluten, dairy, soy and other known allergens.
- contains no genetically engineered ingredients.
In an animal study, a 10-fold increase in MGP gene expression was seen with MenaQ7 supplementation. This is the first time MK-7 has been shown to actually affect the synthesis of MGP in the vascular wall – and not just in the arterial wall.*
A study on the impact of vitamin K2 as MenaQ7® followed a group of healthy women over a three-year period. MenaQ7® helped maintain vascular elasticity, resulting in substantial heart health benefits.*
In another study, one group of participants was given both vitamin K2 (MenaQ7®) and vitamin D3, while another group received only vitamin D. Over a period of six months, the group with vitamins D3 and K2 maintained their cardiovascular health.*
Magnesium: The Missing Link for Vitamin D Benefits
As I mentioned earlier, the amount of vitamin D3 you need depends on many different factors.
Your magnesium level is one of those factors. Magnesium is required for the conversion of vitamin D into its active form
When you have too little magnesium (many people are deficient), you need much higher levels of vitamin D. Magnesium activates and unlocks vitamin D’s many potential benefits.
A study shows that as many as 50% of Americans supplementing with vitamin D may not be getting the benefits they expect. Instead of being utilized, the vitamin D is stored in its inactive form in the body when magnesium levels are low.
In fact, research by GrassrootsHealth shows you need 146% more vitamin D to achieve a blood level of 40 ng/ml (100 nmol/L) if you do not also take supplemental magnesium, compared to taking your vitamin D with at least 400 mg of magnesium per day.
Further, according to GrassrootsHealth, supplemental magnesium and vitamin K2 have a greater effect on vitamin D levels than either of them individually. Those supplementing with both magnesium and vitamin K2 had higher vitamin D levels, as shown by data from nearly 3,000 individuals.
A whopping 244% more oral vitamin D was required without magnesium and vitamin K2. So, a simple way to optimize your vitamin D absorption is to take it in conjunction with magnesium and K2.
I recommend adding Magnesium L-Threonate to your daily regimen, along with Vitamins D3 & K2. This superior form of magnesium offers superior absorption compared to other forms, and has the unique ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to penetrate cell membranes.*
Support Your Total Body Health With Vitamins D3 & K2*
I can’t stress it enough... the combo of vitamins D3 and K2 is absolutely essential for health.
You need it for your immune function, but that’s not all. Vitamins D3 and K2 are critically important for your heart, strong bones, cell health, respiratory health, cognition and mood, youthful muscles, metabolic health and so much more.
Vitamin D, in particular, penetrates nearly every cell in your body and actually passes into the cell’s nucleus to control the expression of as many as 3,000 genes, so it is essential for just about every single function in your body.
And, remember, for healthy arteries and veins, be sure to take vitamin K2 whenever you take vitamin D. That’s one mistake you don’t want to make...
Now, with Vitamins D3 & K2, you get both in one easy-to-take capsule so you’ll never again forget to take vitamin K at the same time.
Don’t take a chance on becoming deficient in these crucial nutrients. Order our Vitamins D3 & K2 formula today for your nutritional well-being.