Vitamin D Optimization: Sunlight or Supplements?

A view from my front porch on this sunny Oregon day

Summer is coming, and even in the rainy northwest that means a lot more sun. With sun comes awesome opportunities to get Vitamin D! We hear so much now about people with Vitamin D deficiencies and that leading to a whole host of problems both in terms of mood and long term health. I've been taking 6-8,000 IU's of supplemental Vitamin D every day for 8 months now, and my levels have gone from low 20's to the mid 50's ppm. Now, this was during the winter, so I know I wasn't getting a lot of sun. That shows me that supplementation is effective at raising my standing Vitamin D levels. Great! However, Chris Kresser has begun recommending a range of 30-50 ppm because the research which supported levels of 60-75 ppm has been shown to have serious flaws, and hence those claims are unsubstantiated at this time.

Chris talks about this in the latest episode of his Revolution Health Radio podcast, where he breaks down the problems with the high Vitamin D research, and explains the issues with how we measure Vitamin D because there are both active and inactive forms. It gets pretty technical, which was part of the reason I wanted to summarize that here, and give an idea of my plans going forward after hearing this information.

With my current levels I'm on the high end, so I'm going to try and bring it down a bit. I'm going to drop it to just 5,000 IU's and see how that goes.  However, I'm looking into supplementing with natural sunlight as an alternative to capsules. Just 10-15 minutes of moderate sun exposure a day can give 10,000 IU's of Vitamin D to a light-skinned person, and if you do it in the right way you'll avoid cancer risk and sunburn. Check out these articles for some awesome tips on how to optimize your sun exposure and your diet to prevent burns, and let you soak up that Vitamin D naturally.

The thing about this is that humans evolved to get our Vitamin D this way, not to take it in through our digestive system in huge 5000 IU bursts, so it makes some sense to me that it would be preferable. As long as you do it for short periods of time at first to build up your tolerance, and eat skin-protecting foods (a la Mark Sisson's article) that should be all the D you need. My current plan is to start skipping my capsule on sunny days, and instead just go outside with the direct purpose of Vitamin D absorption. I'll combine this with some grounding, barefoot stretching/yoga in the grass to get centered, relaxed, and get all that awesome Vitamin D!

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, I understand the premise, but after hearing so much about skin cancer risk, I'm skeptical. Wouldn't it be preferable to keep your risk of skin cancer as close to 0 as possible, and just get your D from supplements? Or is there a con to that side as well?


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