Owen Davis | 20 Jan
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble hormones necessary for maintaining healthy calcium, magnesium and phosphate levels to balance blood and bone health. Vitamin D promotes optimal bone density and plays a role in nearly every cellular process in the body.
Vitamin D can be measured in the blood. The optimal serum range (based on healthy people) for vitamin D3 (Vitamin D 25 OH, 25 hydroxycholecalciferol) is 100 - 150 nanomole per Litre (nmol/L). Blood test results that show vitamin D within these ranges typically indicate good health or hormonal homeostasis.
When blood tests show lower levels of vitamin D (below 49 nmol/L across Australian pathology laboratories), it is typically interpreted as a vitamin D deficiency. Some health practitioners presume anything below 100 is a concern. However, this is not necessarily true, and there can be dire consequences to supplementing with vitamin D to correct this apparent 'deficiency'.
In science, there are two types of research; basic research and epidemiology. Basic research is the science of cause and effect, whereas epidemiology is the science of associations. Both have their place; however, it's important to note the distinctions.
Epidemiological studies suggest that lower serum vitamin D levels are common in those suffering from chronic disease, bone loss, old age, decreased Klotho enzyme/Fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) gene and at 'risk of death'. In contrast, healthy people often show higher levels of serum vitamin D. These findings have led many to believe that raising vitamin D is integral to health and is vital in defending against ageing and disease. As a result, many people are advised to supplement with ultra megadose vitamin D.
This thinking is flawed, though. There are other reasons for low serum vitamin D other than an actual vitamin D deficiency. In fact, it is often the reverse; whereby disease causes low vitamin D, not low vitamin D that causes disease. So, while people can expect short-term benefits from an uptake in vitamin D, supplementing in high amounts is fundamentally flawed. Firstly; it fails to treat the cause of low vitamin D, and secondly; it often means people end up supplementing with high amounts of vitamin D, which can catalyse a host of future health problems. Allow us to explain further with an example.
In health, 55% of serum calcium (in a blood sample) is bound to protein (albumin) or alkaline buffers (phosphates). The remaining 45% is left unbound in a free (ionised) state. As the ratio narrows, more protein becomes unbound - resulting in an excess of free (ionised) calcium in the blood. This is often caused by poor dietary and lifestyle habits, which render the body more acidic than alkaline.
Coronary artery calcium on the left anterior descending (LAD) and first diagonal (D1) arteries.
The top is the sternum and the bottom area is the spine.
When in a state of free calcium excess, the body experiences calcification, bone resorption and alterations in cell signalling. Ultimately, free calcium is deposited into arteries, organs and joints, which leads to conditions like heart disease (atherosclerosis or coronary calcification), arthritis, osteoporosis and even cancer.
Free calcium excess is seen in the mouth as:
Free calcium excess is seen elsewhere in the body as:
Free calcium excess will predispose people to:
Vitamin D is required for the absorption of calcium. So, in the instance of free calcium
excess, the body deliberately lowers serum vitamin D to prevent calcium from being deposited into the arteries,
joints and organs.
So, serum vitamin D will be low in those suffering from free calcium excess. The problem most people make here is that they assume this is because they are vitamin D deficient or a lack of sun exposure. Low vitamin D is not responsible for poor health in this instance. Low vitamin D is, in this instance, indicative of an underlying health issue (free calcium excess) or a poor protein status.
This misdiagnosis of vitamin D deficiency highlights the shortcomings of the modern healthcare system.
Attempting to raise serum vitamin D levels by supplementing will fail to address the underlying problem. Not only that, but providing the body with additional vitamin D will compound the problem. It will lead to more calcium being deposited into the arteries, joints and organs, ultimately leading to a decline in health.
Some researchers contend that thousands of people are on dialysis (blood cleaning
machinery) today due to supplementing with high levels of vitamin D in an attempt to combat a low serum vitamin D.
Similarly, they believe that thousands more are dying of heart disease and various other atrophy states due to the
same major flaw in interpretation.
If free calcium excess is indeed responsible for lowering serum vitamin D, an uptake of vitamin
may be of benefit, as it assists the body in clearing calcium from the blood and pushing it into the bones and
The point is; that instead of looking to boost vitamin D, we must first ask 'why' vitamin D is low. Vitamin D is not always low because there is a deficiency - it can be low because of free calcium excess. If we correct free calcium excess, calcium will be pushed into the bone, and we will see a natural rise in serum vitamin D as a result.
Vitamin D deficiency is commonly misunderstood and illustrates the shortcomings of modern medicine. This example perfectly illustrates why chronic disease is so prevalent in modern society - because most practitioners look to treat symptoms instead of the root cause.