Hippocrates suggested that it was optimal to live on the southern face of a hill - this would have been the sunny side. He may have been a real estate mogul, but considering his investment and contributions to medicine, it is more likely that he was the first person to correlate the significance of our exposure to the sun as a primary source of Vitamin D and disease prevention. Today there is a growing aversion to sun exposure. Subsequently, Vitamin D levels have significantly decreased.
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D isn't actually a vitamin at all. It's a prehormone that is catalyzed into useable vitamin D by a heat reaction, which may account for part of the reason that sun exposure is necessary for Vitamin D conversion. Vitamin D can be obtained through dietary intake, but unless you have a diet rich in reindeer meat, lichen or seagull eggs, it is unlikely that you are getting adequate dietary sources.
Vitamin D and Pregnancy Preparation
Without the prehormone Vitamin D, we do not have the substrate for calcitriol (the hormonally active form of Vitamin D), which is pivotal for brain development - especially during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins do not prevent Vitamin D deficiency. They basically contain a homeopathic level of Vitamin D. So, during pregnancy preparation or early pregnancy, it is advisable to supplement with 5,000 IU and increase to 6,000 IU in later stages of pregnancy (5,000 for mom and 1,000 for baby).
What's a typical level and dose of Vitamin D?
A healthy hunter gatherer-style dose of Vitamin D in the blood is about 46 ml (the lab test you want to get is 25-hydroxy vitamin D test). If you're low, you can supplement with 5,000 IU/day for the days that you're not out in the sun (without sunblock). Also take into account that genetic variations and obesity can change ones response to Vitamin D uptake. So, it's not sufficient to just supplement. You also need to periodically recheck your Vitamin D levels to make sure it’s working, and of course remember that any imbalance may be related to broader health conditions. It's always worth putting any finding into the context of your collaboration with your health care practitioner.
Contributed by Caylie See, L.Ac., FABORM