Vitamin D. I’ve always thought it was a bit straight-laced.
Its journey is cool enough. It starts out as cholecalciferol from sunlight on our skin, then transverses through multiple transformations via the liver, metamorphosing into calcidiol before shuffling onto the kidneys where it pops out the other end in its active form, calcitriol (it’s a bit like Willy Wonka’s creation of an Everlasting Gobstopper.)
So don’t get me wrong, the whole fact that Vitamin D is made at all is amazing and I love all that it does for us.
But it’s the “what it does for us” part that gives me the impression of a greying 60 year old school-master.
Most of us know Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis. We (at least should) know it helps calcium absorption. So it’s no good piling up on calcium without having enough Vitamin D to help absorb it. And for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s essential for our immune system and in fighting against allergies and eczema, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
All very noble, Vitamin D. But it’s time to take off your serious-pants.
Because Vitamin D has a secret life. In reality, it’s a hormone and one that’s essential in the creation of your amazing sex hormones. All I’m saying is, if you’re not getting enough, you may not be… getting enough.
What’s So Sexy About Vitamin D?
- It helps create juicy levels of testosterone and oestrogen, which increase sex drive.
- By keeping these hormones buoyant, it protects against crashing moods including depression and anxiety. I.e. gives you a higher frisk-factor.
- By maintaining oestrogen levels, it helps bump up your neurotransmitters serotonin (your happy hormone) and GABA (your chilled-out, sultry hormone).
- Vitamin D is also good mates with MAO, COMT and VDR Taq, the genes that deal with the creation, release and clearance of serotonin and dopamine. When this system is working well, you’re brighter, more motivated and much more playful.
How Much Do We Need?
- In Australia, Vitamin D serum levels should be >50-75 nmol/L (minimum), with optimal ranges between 100-140 nmol/L.
Why Am I Deficient and How Do I Get More?
- Diet: Dietary sources include grass-fed butter, wild salmon and oily fish, cod liver oil, egg yolks, mushrooms and organic liver.
- Sun Exposure: We can only create Vitamin D from the sun via UVB rays, and they only come out to play between around 11am and 4pm, when the sun is at an angle of >35 deg. So get your limbs/torso/as much exposed skin as possible out in nature for between 7-30 minutes (fair skin) and 20 minutes-3 hours (dark skin)* each day during this time.
TIP: An app like DMinder can help you monitor your UVA/UVB sun exposure to ensure maximum benefit and minimum burn.
- Don’t drown in sunscreen: I know it sounds contra to all you’ve been taught and no one is saying baste yourself in coconut oil for 6 hours on Bondi beach like it’s 1978. But don’t return to the neck-to-knees of the 1920s either.
- Genetics: Problems in the genes responsible for Vitamin D manufacturing and skin pigment itself affects your ability to create Vitamin D, with pale skin 6 times more able to generate Vitamin D than darker skin.
- Age: Vitamin D decreases with age.
- Body Weight: Increased fat stores bind Vitamin D making it less bioavailable.
- Supplementation: If you need a boost, supplements such as Cod Liver Oil or a Vitamin D spray or capsule at between 1,000-3,000IU per day can boost levels.
So don’t forget about this juicy little hormone, especially as we come out of Winter … and make whey-hey while the sun shines.
*Seasonal guidelines from Osteoporosis Australia
Kate is a qualified naturopath who is passionate about helping women heal from hormonal havoc and inspiring women to know their own power, worth and wisdom.
Kate offers one-on-one Skype consults for irregular cycles, PMS and period pain, endometriosis, PCOS, peri-menopause, mood swings, fatigue and mental and emotional stress.
Simply drop me an email to see how I can help you!