Our ability to produce and use active form of Vitamin D3 gives us our inner life force and makes us feel good. If you do not have sufficient levels of Vitamin D3, you cannot access your DNA library for needed biological processes. This is why we crave sunshine. So how to we activate our inner light when there is no sun?
To learn more about the benefits of Vitamin D3, please see my previous article "Activate Your Inner Sunshine with Vitamin D"
Vitamin D is a unique vitamin because our skin, bloodstream, liver and kidneys all contribute to the formation of active Vitamin D3. When our skin receives sunlight, the light interacts with cholesterol (to form vitamin D), then is transferred to the liver where it is converted to a form of Vitamin D called calcidiol. Calcidiol is then transferred to the kidneys where it is converted to the most active form of Vitamin D called "125- dihydroxycholecalciferol" or otherwise known as Vitamin D3. (I'll stick with the later name :-). Whoa!! And it is this is the form that has the ability to activate our DNA so we can reach our full potential and we feel our inner sunshine.
The Vitamin D & Kidney Connection for Digestive Happiness
Vitamin D absorbed from the sun can be stored in our body by our kidneys. Our kidneys have the ability to activate stored Vitamin D depending on the food we eat. The signal for the kidneys to activate Vitamin D comes from an increase in sodium (salt) in our diet. On the other hand, potassium, found in abundance in fresh fruit and vegetables signals to our bodies that is sunny, so our kidneys will not activate Vitamin D. This is why we crave more cooked/salty foods in colder months and more fresh fruit and vegetables during the summer time. Perhaps a scientific explanation of why many of us crave to eat seasonally!
Often times, people who eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, in colder climates with little sun, will not activate the production of vitamin D. This means they cannot absorb calcium and all the other sunshine vitamin benefits, like making you feel good. A lack of calcium can lead to digestive difficulties from a weakened the ileocecal valve that requires calcium to function properly. This valve, that acts as a barrier, between your small and large intestine, when weakened, lets the good bacteria from the large intestine moves into the small intestine and can cause digestive havoc. And no, I won't go into details here ;-) For many people, their digestive problems are solved when their eat a seasonally appropriate diet.
The Vitamin D Challenge for Plant-Based Lifestyle
The challenge for those who lead a plant-based lifestyle, is that you can only get the active form of vitamin D3 from animal sources. The best sources of vitamin D3 include cod liver oil, eggs yolks, butter, liver, mackerel, salmon, sardines and herrings. Plant foods do produce a similar molecule, ergocalciferol (also called D2) and is found in mushrooms and dark leafy greens. However, the plant-based sources of vitamin D2 do not have the type of cholesterol, (calcitriol), which is a needed building block for vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 cannot provide all the same functions as vitamin D3, "studies show that "D3 is approximately 87% more potent in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations and produces 2- to 3-fold greater storage of vitamin D than does D2."
Do You Need to Supplement?
If you are regularly exposed to the sun and/or include wild fish, egg yolk, as part of your diet then you don't need to worry about vitamin D supplementation. For those of us who do not get much sun exposure either because we are indoors most of the day or live in cloudy climates like Vancouver, live a vegan lifestyle and especially if you have dark skin, than vitamin D supplementation is a very good idea.
How do you Get Vitamin D3 from a Plant-Based Diet?
Stay tuned for tips on how to get vitamin D in a following posting :-)
Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Elson M.Hass, MD with Buck Levin, PhD, RD
Dr. Mercola's website: Mercola.com
Eating Alive, Dr. John Matsen, ND
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