Why Are Vitamin D Levels So Important?




Vitamin D is an oil soluble hormone made when your skin is exposed to UVB from the sun’s rays, converting a type of cholesterol into D3.It helps make strong bones, where it is lacking it causes rickets and osteoporosis. It also is needed to make strong teeth.

Nearly 2 ,000 years ago Herodotus wrote-

The skulls of the Persians are so weak that if you shall hit them only with a pebble you will make a hole in them, while those of the Egyptians are so exceedingly strong that you would hardly break them if you struck them with a large stone.

The cause of it, they say, was this, and I for my part readily believe them, namely that the Egyptians beginning from their early childhood shave their heads, and the bone is thickened by exposure to the sun: and this is also the cause of their not becoming bald-headed; for among the Egyptians you see fewer bald-headed men than among any other race. This then is the reason why these have their skulls strong; and the reason why the Persians have theirs weak is that they keep them delicately in the shade from the first by wearing tiaras, that is felt caps.’

Some less severe effects are a sweaty head, and aching bones, because the calcium isn’t being absorbed.

The darker the skin, the more sunlight is needed to make enough Vitamin D.If you are overweight it is absorbed by your fat before your body can use it, so you need extra sunlight, or  take supplements. After 50, our body is less able to absorb the D, so we need to be in the sun more, or supplement.

Researchers such as Dr. Holick estimate that 50 percent of the general population is at risk of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency.

Recommended vitamin D, 25 hydroxy D, levels should be 50-70 ng/ml. To treat cancer and heart disease it should be 70-100 ng/ml, over 100 is excessive.Levels should be measured at last twice a year, as they fluctuate so much. The best test 25[OH]D, also called 25-hydoxyviramin DIt is now thought that adults need to take 8,000IUs of D3 a day to reach 40ng/ml.1

Now scientist are finding out that D might protect us against obesity, heart attacks, strokes, cancer,2 asthma and multiple sclerosis.3It also may make out bodies produce nitric oxide, which protects our cardiovascular system.High amounts help with our immunity, fighting off flu 4and bacteria infections5.

Research has shown that cancer free survival was 77% higher in women who received 1,100 US of vitamin D and 1,450mg of calcium a day, compared with those who took a placebo.6

But most exciting is the research showing that vitamin D can actually effect over 200 of our genes, switching them on. This has huge implications on our health.7

Sunlight is necessary to make serotonin, a chemical that makes us feel good, and regulates our sleep. Lack of sunlight can be a reason for depression.

Some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder,[ SAD]. Broad spectrum light lamps can help improve this.

When we lived in England we just had to get away for 2 weeks to a sunny country every winter!

The problem is that D is not absorbed directly into your skin. It sits on the surface and takes as long as 48 hours to be absorbed. If you have a bath or long shower using soap, it will be washed off. Just a quick shower with just water and gently pat yourself dry, will still leave a residue.

Professor Brinkley found that surfers in Hawaii had levels as low as 30-60 ng/ml, in spite of being out in the sun for hours every day, and not wearing sunscreen

Whereas the life guards, who rarely went in the sea, levels  had healthy levels.7

Food sources are highest in oily fish, like sardines, and dairy. But this is not enough, you either need sunlight or supplements.

Mushrooms left gills up in sunlight for a few hours will make vitamin D also, and store it until they are eaten. This also works with mushrooms that are going to be dried. Just leave them in the sun for 2 days to greatly increase their D content. shiitakes created 46,000 IU of vitamin D, with 12 hours of sun exposure. A cooked ,dried handful of these a day will give enough Vitamin D for the average person.8

Now I always put my fresh mushrooms in the sun for a couple of hours before I cook them.

It is possible to have too much vitamin D through taking supplements. 50,000 IUs a day for several months for example, would cause this, but not  from too much sunbathing. This will cause too high a level of calcium in your blood which leads to headaches, nausea, loss of appetite weakness and kidney problems.

In history it was the peasants that had the tan, the rich kept out of the sun to keep their skin white. This led to the dangerous fashion of the more wealthy whitening the skin with arsenic powder, which precipitated many early deaths.

Coco Chanel popularised the tan again, and now it is a status symbol showing you have had an expensive exotic holiday.

Rickets blossomed during the industrial revolution with poorly lit homes and factories. Children started work at very young ages and had little chance to play outside in the sun.

Dr Rollier made sunbathing something to be desired by opening clinics in the Alps and making his patients spend long hours in the sun each day, just wearing hats and loin cloths.

He had great success in treating tuberculosis, rickets and disfiguring lupus.

Sun exposure was built up very slowly, with only the feet exposed for 5 minutes the first day. Gradually more of the body was revealed, the skin was never allowed to burn.The morning sun from 8 am to 10 am he thought was more healing then the afternoon. Midday sun was all ways to be avoided.He thought that the exposing the back gave the biggest benefit to health.High altitudes, which meant less clouds and cold weather were also thought to have helped.

His clinics had huge windows and sun terraces where the patients lay soaking up the rays till they were better.9
Dr. Rollier said-

“When, in 1903, I opened at Leysin the first clinic for the systematic application of the sun-treatment, it was my object to place the weakened and diseased bodies of my patients in an environment which would give the greatest possible assistance in the fight against tuberculosis.

In this environment, the essential factors are the air of high altitudes and the sun-bath, applied to the whole surface of the body; the bracing effect of this combination is of the greatest therapeutic value. Heliotherapy is a local treatment which is at the same time analgesic, bactericidal, and a powerful stimulus to cicatrisation.

Dr. Niels Finsen, who later went on to win a Nobel Prize, noted that his own sluggishness seemed cured with a little dose of sunlight. He eventually showed that solar radiation could help treat smallpox, lupus and tuberculosis

The solariums fell out of favour when the damage caused by to much sun became apparent, and antibiotics were discovered.

Sun coming through glass, either the home, the office or the car, is not healthy, in fact it is dangerous.

It ages the skin quicker, and causes wrinkles, skin cancers, and age spots. 10

Most front windscreens of cars are treated to block UVA rays, the side and back windows do not. So your skin on that side of your face and arms is more likely to have problems.

You can get a tinted film put on the glass to absorb the rays,11 or wear clothes to cover you.
Sir Henry Gauvain, Britain’s leading heliotherapist, seemed to foresee heliotherapy’s future back in 1922. Sunlight, he wrote, is “like a good champagne. It invigorates and stimulates; indulged in to excess, it intoxicates and poisons.”

I still don’t want my face to tan and get wrinkled, so I make my own sunscreen lotion. Shop bought ones have too many chemicals in them.

Homemade Sunscreen

  • ½ cup almond or olive oil
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup beeswax
  • 2 Tablespoons non -nano Zinc Oxide
  • 2 tablespoons Shea Butter
  • few drops of lavender oil


  1. Combine ingredients except zinc oxide and lavender oil in a double saucepan and gently melt over a very low heat
  2. When all ingredients are completely melted, add the zinc oxide, [be careful not to inhale the powder) stir in well and pour into several small glass jars.
  3. Stir a few times as it cools to make sure zinc oxide is mixed in.

This gives and approximate spf 15, add more zinc oxide if you are in strong sunlight, or on the water. Use one jar at a time, keep the rest in the fridge. You may need to adjust the ratio of beeswax to oil, depending on you climate.

This gives and approximate spf 15, add more zinc oxide if you are in strong sunlight, or on the water. Use one jar at a time, keep the rest in the fridge. You may need to adjust the ratio of beeswax to oil, depending on you climate.



1 Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Giovannucci E, Willett WC, Dietrich T, Dawson-Hughes B. Estimation of optimal serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D for multiple health outcomes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):18-28. Review.

Estimation of Optimal Serum Concentrations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D for Multiple Health Outcomes

2 Dobnig H, Pilz S, Scharnagl H, Renner W, Seelhorst U, Wellnitz B, Kinkeldei J, Boehm BO, Weihrauch G, Maerz W. Independent Association of Low Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D Levels With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(12):1340-1349

3 Ascherio A, Munger KL. Environmental risk factors for multiple sclerosis. Part II: Noninfectious factors. Ann Neurol. 2007 Jun;61(6):504-13.

4 Aloia JF, Li-Ng M. Re: epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Oct;135(7):1095-6; author reply 1097-8.

5 Bikle DD. Vitamin D and the immune system: role in protection against bacterial infection. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2008 Jul;17(4):348-52.

6 Annals of Epidemiology July 2009 ― Cancer-free survival in the study women after 4 years’ follow-up and random allocation to placebo, cancer-free survival was 77% higher in the calcium and vitamin D3 supplementation group than the placebo group.

7 http://www.well.ox.ac.uk/aug-10-vitamin-d-influences-over-200-genes

8 Binkley N, et al. Low vitamin D status despite abundant sun exposure. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007 Jun;92(6):2130-5. Epub 2007 Apr 10.

9 Beelman, R. & M. Kalaras. “Post-harvest Vitamin D Enrichment of Fresh Mushrooms.” HAL Project# MU07018 (April 30, 2009), Penn State University.

Urbain, P., et al. “Bioavailability of vitamin D2 from UV-B-irradiated

Stamets, P. & G. Plotnikoff. “Anticancer Medicinal Mushrooms Can Provide Significant Vitamin D 2 (Ergocalciferol).” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2005; 7(3):471-472

U.S. Mushroom Council & Australian Mushroom Growers Association.

9 https://www.mcgill.ca/library/files/library/osler-ourfriendsun.pdf

10 Humbert P, Mac-Mary S, Sainthillier J-M, et al. Assessment of cumulative exposure to UVA through the study of asymmetrical facial skin aging. Clin Int in Aging 2010; 5:277-84.

Singer R, Hamilton Butler ST, Fosko SW. Increased prevalence of left-sided skin cancers. J Am Acad Dermatol 2010; Dec;63(6):1006-10.


11 Bernstein EF,Schwartz M,Veihmeyer Retal. Measurement of protection afforded by ultraviolet-absorbing window film using an in vitro model of photodamage. Lasers in Surg & Med 2006; 38(4):337-42.




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