Vitamin D’s name can be misleading. It is actually a hormone, not a vitamin. Vitamins are necessary cofactors in enzymatic biochemical reactions in your body, and they cannot be synthesized in your body—that is, we must get them from food.
Vitamin D (also known as cholecalciferol) is a hormone made in your body by the action of ultraviolet light on cholesterol in your skin. You can obtain about 10 percent of what is needed from your diet, but the rest must come from your skin. If you do not get enough sun—you will not have an optimal vitamin D level. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to a number of diseases, including various cancers, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, age-related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness), and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. Optimal vitamin D levels are estimated to decrease cancer risk by up to 60 percent for at least sixteen different types of cancer, including pancreatic, lung, ovarian, prostate, and skin cancers.
Of course, vitamin D levels are correlated with wound healing. For example, a 2012 study from Brazil on patients with venous leg ulcers showed those with higher vitamin D levels healed much faster. Recently, many physicians have recognized that vitamin D deficiency is serious and very common; there is now a pandemic of vitamin D deficiency. Many recommend testing and oral supplementation because of a widespread (yet false) belief that vitamin D deficiency is easily correctable by taking supplements.
Consider: An optimal vitamin D level is required for health. Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Thus, sunlight is necessary for optimal health. Of course, vitamin D is not the only product of exposure to sunlight or the only reason we need sunlight; it is simply one marker of health that we have been able to correlate with sunlight exposure.
Remember this: Vitamin D from a pill does not carry the same quantum signal to your body that vitamin D created in your skin from exposure to UV light does. The sun brings great health; you should embrace it. Unfortunately, exposure to natural sunlight has been loudly denounced both by many physicians and by an industry eager to make huge profits selling products designed to protect people from the “harmful rays of the sun.” Because of this we are seeing a correspondingly significant increase in cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other ailments as the populace obediently tries to avoid the sun and slathers on sunscreen, covers up, and spends most of their days out of full-spectrum sunlight.
The sun is the source of all energy on earth, and to think that our bodies have not optimally adapted to it (and are dependent on it) over millions of years is foolish. Despite what you may hear from dermatologists, more recent studies have shown that sun exposure helps prevent skin cancer. Melanoma occurrence decreases with greater exposure to direct sunlight.
For example, in a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, melanoma was more common in those who spent time indoors and in body parts not typically exposed to the sun. Another study showed that those who regularly sunbathe live longer. In the United States, skin cancer rates are highest in some of the states with the least sunlight (for example, Washington and Maine.) We strongly recommend ample midday sunlight exposure on as much exposed skin as possible (yes, nude if you can—work up to it) as your main source of vitamin D. There are smartphone and computer applications that tell you when the best time to get maximal UVB exposure is—it is usually around noon, but the length of UVB availability will vary depending on your latitude and season.
The strength of the sun’s rays (measured by a concept called “quantum yield”) will be less in heavily populated areas with lots of air pollution and competing electromagnetic waves (non-native EMF). If you live in a climate where you cannot get adequate sun exposure (UV light) during the winter (or anytime), consider using tanning beds a few times a week (protect your eyes though). The benefits of optimizing vitamin D levels will outweigh the risks of the additional EMF.
While adequate sunlight is essential, sunburns are definitely miserable and can be harmful. If you are not accustomed to sunlight exposure, start with small amounts and work your way up to build your “sun callus” which takes time and effort. It is also critical to have a large amount of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA—the omega-3 fatty acid found in seafood) in your diet, and be well hydrated with good quality water. These measures help prevent burns.
Your goal is to get your vitamin D level into the optimal range: 70–100 nanograms/milliliter (ng/ml) as measured by most labs. Have it checked regularly and expect some normal variation with season depending on where you live. If you cannot get your vitamin D into an optimal range with sun exposure (change your lifestyle— you must!)
We definitely recommend oral supplementation for a few months as you heal. Most multivitamins have a paltry amount of vitamin D (200-400 International Units [IU]). That will not improve most people’s vitamin D deficiency; the majority that we have tested have levels much less than 20 ng/ml. You may need anywhere from 5,000–25,000 IU per day. It is nearly impossible to become vitamin D toxic (levels greater than 150 ng/ml or a rising blood calcium level). Testing it periodically to follow the level is definitely important.
If your vitamin D level does not improve despite copious sunlight and/or aggressive supplementation, it is likely that your environment is the problem. This happens when there is significant electromagnetic pollution (nnEMF) because calcium is effluxed from your cells under these conditions. Because vitamin D increases calcium absorption in the gut, high extracellular calcium signals your body to decrease vitamin D levels. Systemic calcium levels are tightly controlled by the body, as the right concentration is critical to muscle (including cardiac muscle) activity.
Another potential issue that can cause your vitamin D level to be low is the mismatch created when your extremely photosensitive skin is exposed to sun but your eyes are not. Ditch the sunglasses (and the glasses and the contact lenses) and get some sun on your retina. Your brain must sense similar signals from your retina and your skin in order to maximize vitamin D levels.