top of page

Vitamin D-the great deceiver!?

The best thing is for me to come straight out with it…I was wrong and I am sorry. Very sorry. As I learn more, I do better. And gee, have I learnt a lot.

This may be challenging or even triggering; we have all been heavily exposed to the idea that taking vitamin D is healthful, and me, no less than anyone else. I have since learnt that much of the research questioning the benefits of supplementing with D has been buried or at very least obscured. But that is a topic for an altogether different discussion.

But how bad can it be?

There are many myths to dispel regarding the great vitamin D deception. Bone health is probably the most obvious (watch out for calcium supplements, they can be harmful too). Link to research article here

A 2016 meta analysis determined that there is no benefit regarding longevity or morbidity with D levels over 52nmol/L, 21ng/ml

In conclusion, from this large cohort of asymptomatic

adults, independent of traditional cardiovascular disease

risk factors, increasing serum 25(OH)D levels offers significant

protection against all-cause and cardiovascular disease

mortality in a nonlinear fashion. However, once the serum

levels of 25(OH)D rise above its population median of 21

ng/mL, it offers no statistically significant protection for

all-cause or cardiovascular disease mortality.

Relationship between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and All-cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality. 2016. Muhammad Amer, & Rehan Qayyum.

Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin, it’s a hormone found in around 22 different forms in the body. We cannot assess a person’s D status from a single test. Especially when the test measures the storage form of D, which by function isn’t much in the blood anyway.

Reasons to avoid D supplements

· Leads to potassium loss through the kidneys (can be seen in HTMA)

· Causes calcium to be stored in tissue, not bone

· Leads to calcium deposition in the kidneys

· Makes cells more susceptible to oxidative stress (free radical damage)

· Inhibits the VITAL functions of retinol (vitamin A)

· Inhibits magnesium absorption- the real cause of osteoporosis

But unhealthy people have low vitamin D levels?

True, storage D is often low in unhealthy people- but does correlation equal causation? Did those firetrucks cause the fire? Did the flies create the dung?

Low storage D is a result of inflammation, a result of poor health, not the cause. Giving D won’t restore health as much as removing the fire trucks won’t make the fire go away.

Yes, you may feel better taking D- that's the hormonal effect right there.

Why D don't work

D supplements are fat soluble; our body runs on a water soluble form. Not surprisingly, an inflamed body can’t make the conversion from fat soluble to water soluble, from storage form to active form.

Fear not…the form we get from the sun, whole food sources and in some (not many) supplements can be converted. This conversion relies on having adequate retinol levels, and as you’ll see, D supplements block retinol function, creating a vicious cycle.

You might like to know...

  • Supplemental D shuts down retinol (Vitamin A) metabolism…having a domino effect on multiple pathways in the body, disrupting more than just retinol levels.

  • Active D should be twice as high as storage D (these tests are available)

  • Magnesium is boss when it comes to restoring the optimal metabolism of storage D to active D…it is required in 8 of the hormone D conversion steps.

  • Vitamin D metabolism is not just a numbers game…. it’s part of a dynamic process involving magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, retinol and sunshine so if your tank is low, topping it up won’t necessarily fix the underlying cause.

Food sources of Vitamin D

  • Pastured eggs

  • Certain species of cod- their livers

  • beef liver

  • some mushrooms

  • cheese

So next time someone tells you your vitamin D is low on a blood test you could ask them to clarify…are they measuring storage or active form?

And it doesn’t mean you need to take more…this more than likely suggests inflammation…or inadequate retinol or low magnesium or unavailable copper.

Not quite rocket science but a little complex! 😊

Something seem a bit off?

Need help with debunking popular nutritional myths & trending fads?

Want to take a deep dive exploration into your unique mineral and metabolic health?

We can meet in-clinic or online. Click here to book now.

Curious but want to know more? We could have a quick chat to see if what I am offering feels like a good fit for you.


bottom of page