The body composition specialist

Why You Need More Vitamin D than You’re Getting: And What to Do About that Sunshine (And Sunscreen)

This topic has been very much on my mind for some time and I decided to think on this, talk to some doctors and other people in the know, and do thorough research before I even considered giving you any information

– that’s because VITAMIN D is important folks and we’re finding out every day just how preventative vitamin D is against all kinds of deadly diseases from leukemia to breast and prostate cancers

We need vitamin D badly.

And our most bioavailable source of vitamin D is—unfortunately—the Sun.

Without vitamin D, our bones and muscles wither, hormone production shuts down, and our health suffers greatly.

Vitamin D controls over 1,000 physiological processes in the body and it’s –dare I say—THE most crucial vitamin for human health.

This is why lack of vitamin D makes you depressed—it’s your body’s way of telling you “I AM NOT A HAPPY UNIT!”

Although you can get your vitamin D from food sources, experts do agree on one thing for certain:

Sunlight is by far the best way to get your vitamin D.

Just don’t count on getting it from food!

As the Vitamin D Council quite explicitly states:

Most foods that contain vitamin D only have small amounts, so it’s almost impossible to get what your body needs just from food. The most natural way to get vitamin D is by exposing your bare skin to sunlight (ultraviolet B rays). This can happen very quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D. You only need to expose your skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to begin to burn. How much vitamin D is produced from sunlight depends on the time of day, where you live in the world and the color of your skin.

The more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced…. You can also get vitamin D by taking supplements. This is a good way to get vitamin D if you can’t get enough sunlight, or if you’re worried about exposing your skin. Vitamin D3 is the best kind of supplement to take. It comes in a number of different forms, such as tablets and capsules, but it doesn’t matter what form you take, or what time of the day you take it (article).

But it is vitally important that you get enough vitamin D every single day.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is actually a hormone, or rather, a fat-soluble vitamin and pro-hormone that the body converts into hormones inside the liver.

Vitamin D is crucial because it helps us to utilize important minerals such as phosphorus and calcium in the body, giving us strong, healthy bones and teeth. This is why without enough vitamin D, you can develop a condition called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults, which is caused by a lack of vitamin D or metabolism of vitamin D that leads to a gradual demineralization of the bones that leads to deformity.

When our skin is fully exposed to the sun, without clothing or sunscreen’s interference, our body can make all the vitamin D it needs. In fact, depending upon where you are located, the body can do this in as little as 15 minutes of sun exposure.

However, your ability to synthesize vitamin D from sheer sun exposure alone is also dependent upon your age, your type of skin (dark skin does not make as much vitamin D from sun exposure), where you are located in the world, how strong the sun’s rays are, and other factors.

You can also get small amounts of vitamin D from foods such as fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks.

BUT…the safest way to assure that you get enough vitamin D is supplementation—and it doesn’t matter how you take it—liquid, capsule, tablet, chewy—as long as you do! Another great way to supplement with vitamin D is pure, virgin cod liver oil, which is rich in all sorts of good-for-you vitamins and high healthy fats. It also helps to keep you very regular, which helps you to flush cancer-promting toxins right out of the body.

There are two types of vitamin D important for human health. D2 and D3.

Plants make vitamin D2 through their exposure to the sun’s rays (this is why you can eat mushrooms, that have a tender skin that can absorb D2 from the sun’s rays, which your body can convert into vitamin D.

D3 is made by the body when exposed to the sun’s UV rays.

Both D2 and D3 convert to a version of vitamin D in the liver called 25-Hydroxyvitamin D, which, as the Vitamin D council tells us, travels through the blood to the kidneys, where it is further modified to 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, or calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D in the body. The most accurate method of evaluating a person’s vitamin D status is to measure the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the blood.

The RDA for vitamin D as established by the Institute of Medicine is:

  • Women and men between 1 and 70 years of age, including women who are pregnant or lactating, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 15 micrograms (μg) per day or 600 IU per day.
  • For those 71 years or older, the RDA is 20 μg or 800 IU per day
  • For infants, 10 μg per day or 400 IU per day.

You can read the IOM’s report on recommended daily intake of both vitamin D and calcium here.

Vitamin D: The Ultimate Cancer Prevention

One reason you need so much vitamin D is that research has proven time and time again that Vitamin D is the ultimate cancer prevention vitamin.

A new 2017 study on postmenopausal women found that vitamin D supplementation and making sure to meet the RDA of this important vitamin can reduce your risk of developing cancer by 60 percent–16 different types of cancer, in fact, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers. Here is that study and other amazing studies on vitamin D and cancer (study, study, study).

In other studies, vitamin D has proven to slow and prevent the development of cancer, halting cancer cell growth, inducing cancer cell death (apoptosis), and reducing cancer tumor formation (study, study, study).

In their study “Vitamin D for Cancer Protection: A Global Perspective,” Garland et. al. concluded that “Higher serum levels of the main circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), are associated with substantially lower incidence rates of colon, breast, ovarian, renal, pancreatic, aggressive prostate and other cancers.” (study).

Perhaps the powers that be knew this when they set out to design the world, giving us a BIG power source for all day vitamin D supply—the SUN!


Sunscreen: The Ultimate Cancer Promoter?

And here’s the catch 22 with most synthetic sunscreens, while you’re only blocking out the sun’s harmful UVB rays, you’re still exposed to the sun’s harmful UVA rays AND you’re exposing yourself to some of the most deadly cancer causing chemicals known to man, such as oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.

Oxybenzone is one of the most frightening chemicals in sunscreen. It absorbs UV light and causes hormone disruption, endometriosis, can cause low birth weight of babies in pregnant women, and promote cancer.

A 2001 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that oxybenzone can mimic the estrogen in the body and, thus, promote the growth of cancer cells.

Another study found that oxybenzone inhibits cell growth, negatively impacts DNA synthesis, and causes mitochondrial stress in the cells that all could lead to the development of cancers and chronic fatigue.

Retinyl palmitate is even worse—it actually hastens the development of cancers and cancerous tumors when you are exposed to sunlight. The US Government conducted a study in 2012, finding that retinyl palmitate, a more harmful derivative form of vitamin A, speeds the growth of skin tumors when individuals are in the sun (see study).

Dr. Mercola, who has studied vitamin D, the sun, and sunscreen for decades now, believesthat he retinyl palmitate in sunscreen increases the speed with which malignant cancers spread.

Plus, like another deadly and presumably harmless personal care product, baby lotion, sunscreens are typically full of hormone-disrupting cancer-promoting fragrances full of phthalates, parabens, and other dangerous chemicals.

For a great article on baby lotion and the harmful ingredients in most baby care products, check out this article published in the Huffington Post entitled Excuse Me While I Slather My Child in This Toxic Death Cream.”


Why We Need the Sun: The Sun and Circadian Rhythms

We need a certain amount of sunlight in our lives, however, to set our circadian rhythms and help us sleep restfully at night. Circadian rhythms are vitally important to health and not sleeping in tune with these can radically impact health and life span, and this has been noted in studies of 2nd and 3rd shift workers. (See study).

In fact, morning sunlight helps correct problems with sleep and to overcome some of the more negative impacts of blue light in our life—especially if you live in a city lit up like Dubai with electric lights like the World’s Fair.

Without the sun, our circadian rhythms reset, thinking its nighttime when its daytime–which is very bad for sleep. In fact, the absence of light makes our circadian rhythms consistently adjust to these new “night times.”

This can lead to your sitting there until 3 or 4 a.m. unable to fall asleep or numerous night time wakeups—all of which greatly impact your sleep quality, sleep length, and your ability to enter the most crucial stage of sleep for cellular repair, slow wave sleep (stage 3 and 4 sleep).

Blue light/UV light also makes the body think its daytime when its nighttime, and soon, we aren’t sleeping or nourishing the body with the sun either.

And then the body gets depleted on D and sunlight and, thus, we become sleep-deprived, depressed, the bones and muscles wither, the metabolism suffers, the brain suffers, our cells suffer, and the whole beautiful creation called the human body breaks down.

The Sun and Hormesis

If you’ve heard about hormesis—which is the process of exposing yourself to a small amount of a stressor – such as exercise or cold to the point of shivering—hormesis is a toxic substance that in small amounts sets off adaptive processes in the body that are exponentially healthy for us.

The sun is a hormetin. UV rays from the sun actually set off an adaptive response in our skin called a suntan. This adaptive process is infinitely healthy for us humans. See article.

The Sun: Anti-Aging???

Well, perhaps we cannot argue that the sun promotes longer life because I don’t want a lot of people out there sunbathing like crazy—but we do know that vitamin D promotes longevity. In fact, vitamin D assures long telomere length in our DNA which is directly tied with a longer life span!

Teleomeres are these kind of “caps” found at the end of the chromosomes in your strands of DNA. These telomeres protect the DNA from damage, in fact—from “fraying” – like shoelaces without those plastic caps on them. In numerous studies, researchers have found a direct correlation between telomere length and aging.

Vitamin D has been found to promote long telomere link. In a large study of 2,100 pairs of twins, scientists found that vitamin D status was directly tied to increased telomere length.

This has been confirmed in numerous other studies as well. In another study, researchers found that higher vitamin D levels in men and women were directly correlated with longer telomeres. Scientists believe that because vitamin D does this is through its healthy effects upon the body of strengthening the bones and cells, fortifying the mitochondria, decreasing inflammation and preventing harmful cell division and proliferation—all of which hasten telomere shortening and aging! 

In yet another study, researchers discovered that people who had the highest serum vitamin D levels had the longest lifespan compared with those of lower level vitamin D status.

Like smoking, obesity, inflammation, chronic stress, oxidative stress, and alcohol consumption, all of which shorten telomere length and promote again, vitamin D insufficiency directly and negatively impacts telomere length as well. Factors that enhance longevity, researchers have found are high vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid status, folic acid sufficiency, mindfulness and meditation and regular exercise. (see study).

The Point of it All

It all comes down to, we need a healthy way to ensure enough sun exposure to assure our circadian rhythms are kept in check for maximum health, we need to get rid of all harmful sunscreens and use natural sunscreen only, and find healthy ways to enjoy the sun without increasing our risk of skin cancer.

Our ability to repair UV damage is inherently tied to our ability to sleep and repair during our slow wave sleep cycles.

Therefore, we need to have our circadian rhythms in perfect standing.

The best way to assure good circadian rhythm patterns is exposure to early morning sunlight when the sun’s rays are at a safe level. Just 15 minutes can assure you healthy circadian rhythms, healthy, reparative sleep, a speedy metabolism, and all kinds of other healthy effects that happen during the deepest stages of sleep such as fat burning and muscle building.

For more on this, see my article “The Necessity of Delta Wave Sleep for Fat-Burning and Recovery.”

When you do go out in the sun other than that early morning exposure, use NATURAL sunscreens that work to protect your skin without harmful, cancer-promoting chemicals. I give you a great recipe I use below to make my own sunscreen, and it smells wonderful because I use pure essential oils in them, which stimulate health while they smell heavenly! It’s a win-win.

Also, you want to try to bump up your vitamin D status in every way possible. Use a high quality D3 supplement—I like to take a high quality D3/K2 supplement, assuring I get both of these important, cancer-preventative vitamins at the same time, plus they are highly symbiotic, working together to promote health and the absorption and metabolism of one another

And eat richly of vitamin D rich foods such as fatty salmon, mackerel, sardines on salads, salads full of kale, doused with high healthy fatty olive oil-based dressings to enhance absorption even further.

Salmon is rich in not only EPA and DHA both of which are protective against harmful UV rays, but also rich in a compound called astaxanthin—a crucial compound for vitality, energy, and protection from the sun’s most harmful rays.

Consume a lot of phytochemicals from plants. Phytochemicals are UV protective, helping to promote cell repair and repair the damage of UV rays at a cellular level. Foods rich in phytochemicals include green tea, raspberries, blueberries, grapeseed extract, and dark chocolate, all rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants that promote cellular health and repair. (study).

Do all of this and you’ll assure that you get all the vitamin D you need for supreme health, all the sun you need for perfect circadian rhythm balance, and the nutrients and compounds you need to fight cancer and prevent cancer as well.

Jackson’s Favorite Natural Sunscreen Recipe

  • 1 oz beeswax pellets (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 4 oz of your favorite non-toxic lotion (such as Aveeno)
  • 3/4th tbsp. zinc oxide for about 20 SPF
  • 12 drops carrot seed oil
  • 12 drops raspberry seed oil** (scant ¼ tsp)
  • 2 Tbsp jojoba oil or sweet almond oil
  • 10 drops pure vanilla essential oil
  • 10 drops of pure grapefruit, lemon, or sweet orange essential oil

Melt beeswax over boiling water with a double boiler arrangement (a big, stainless steel bowl perched atop a smaller sauce pot is what I use).

Remove the melted wax and add the rest of the ingredients and stir mixture before it sets. Keep in a sealed mason jar or you can buy squeezable tubes online.