Are you deactivating your Vitamin D?
Is something in your diet sabotaging your vitamin D3 levels and weakening your immune system?
During the past year, a great deal of attention has been placed on how best to strengthen your immune system in the face of a viral attack. So too have we learned that certain disease states make us more prone to succumbing to viral infections. These conditions, called co-morbidities, include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, kidney disease and fatty liver, to name a few.
On the side of prevention, there has been an abundance of information released about the power of vitamin D3 to defend you against the ravages of viruses. Research conducted around the world has validated vitamin D, which in fact is a hormone, as capable of strong immune defense and influencing a full five percent of your genetic expression.
How do you get vitamin D3?
Vitamin D can come from sun exposure, food or from supplementation.
In the past we have discussed that the latitude of where you call home is an important influencer of your vitamin D status. From the equator north to the 35th parallel as well as south to the same 35th parallel, is the sweet spot for vitamin D absorption. In the U.S. the 35th parallel is about the level of southern California, southern border of Tennessee and southernmost point of Nevada. An online search will show you exactly.
Beyond the geography of where you live, there are also lifestyle factors that can influence your vitamin D3 levels, supplements and ingesting certain foods such as fish oil, egg yolks, mushrooms and beef, to mention a few.
Vitamin D3 must be in its active form to work
The real crux of the vitamin D3 story comes from understanding if the D you have is active or not. Your vitamin D will confer no benefits for you unless it is activated. The active form is called 1,25 dihydroxy vitamin D. It is a long word but suffice to know you need the active form to do you any good.
As a fat-soluble vitamin and hormone, your inactive form (25 hydroxy vitamin D) is stored in the fat. When it is needed it can travel to your immune system where your immune cells, leukocytes, have many vitamin D receptors. While this is not brand-new information, historically vitamin D was thought to mainly influence metabolism of calcium and phosphorus in your bones. For this activity, vitamin D was sent to your kidney for activation.
The true power of vitamin D’s ability to protect you against viral infections and specifically respiratory injury is truly impressive and it seems that we learn more almost weekly.
Are you inadvertently deactivating your vitamin D?
As we mentioned above, your vitamin D must be activated to work. The human body is rather brilliant, and it has both “on and off switches” for most activities it performs. There is an enzyme the deactivates vitamin D. Some have proposed this as a safety mechanism to ensure your body will not develop excessive levels of the vitamin.
Protection against excessive levels is fine, but most Americans are deficient in this critical vitamin and hormone. Excessive amounts are not typically an issue.
Could your vitamin D be deactivating due to something you are eating?
Yes, and excellent research pointed to the deactivation of vitamin D in a diet rich in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It is suspected that other sugars containing fructose likely create the same effect.
Please note that when I say high fructose corn syrup, I am not referring to the natural fructose found in fresh fruit. That is a healthy fructose and very different from the highly refined HFCS.
What was fascinating about this study was that supplementation of vitamin D was not “seeming” to work in individuals consuming a high sugar diet. It was the discovery of the exact mechanism which was so interesting. HFCS was deactivating vitamin D3 by accelerating the enzyme that performs the deactivation function.
Consuming vitamin D is necessary, but your body then needs to activate it for it to become bioavailable and therefore able to be utilized by your immune system, bones and more. A diet high in sugar confounds this process, causing your vitamin D3 to be disabled.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is also associated with increased risk of shortening your lifespan
We mentioned the common diseases, or co-morbidities, that put you at greater risk of a weakened immune system above. I think it is quite interesting that the very same diseases of known to be worsened, if not caused, by a diet high in fructose.
Exercise can help to ameliorate the negative response
While it did not negate the response that HFCS had on deactivating vitamin D, animal studies showed the exercise dampened the negative response somewhat.
There is a tremendous amount of research validating the importance of exercise across the board when it comes to health and longevity. Please do make it a daily part of your life, but do not consider that it will protect you from the negative effects of HFCS.
- Pereira, et al. Nutrients 2017, “Fructose consumption in the development of obesity and the effects of different protocols of physical exercise on the hepatic metabolism”
- Global Public Health 2012, “HFCS and diabetes prevalence: A global perspective”
- Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 2010, “Fructose consumption: Recent results and their potential implications”
Do you need help with your health?
We have the tools to discover why you may be having trouble with a weakened immune system. It’s not difficult as long as you’re ready to make some dietary and lifestyle changes. If that sounds daunting, don’t worry. We will hold your hand through the changes and make each step of change an easy one.
Dr. Vikki Petersen DC. CCN
Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
Dr Vikki Petersen is a public speaker, author of two books, several eBooks and creates cutting edge content for her YouTube community. Dr Vikki is committed to bringing Root Cause Medicine and its unique approach to restoring health naturally to the world.