The Exceptional Properties of Vitamins D & K and the Body's Ability to Get Calcium into every Cell
PRECISON USE | NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
The Exceptional Properties of Vitamins D & K and the Body's Ability to Get Calcium into every Cell
Vitamin D isn't just the earliest sunscreen; it's the evolutionary stumbling block that got you out of the water and onto land
By Mark Zuleger-Thyss
How vitamin D originates from the Earth might not be interesting to you. How it allowed living organisms to make their way to 'terra firma' from the calcium-rich environment of the sea is extraordinary
Vitamin D is produced in the body through a chemical reaction in our skin, which alters the ability of the mineral calcium to get into every cell. Getting Vitamin D to your brain and body can be as easy as taking your dog for a stroll in the park.
It's hopeful and poetic to see flowers springing from the ground and ponder how you got to dry land after percolating in the ocean, growing a spine, and planning your escape.
"Forest of the Sea" | Underwater Ecosystems
Where does all this Calcium come from, and how does it form the skeletons of most marine creatures?
Calcium occurs naturally in seawater and is one of the most essential ions. It comes from the dissolving of rocks such as limestone, calcite, dolomite, and gypsum. Seawater contains approximately 400 ppm calcium.
The abundance of Calcium in seawater is due to its natural occurrence in the Earth's crust, stored in geological reservoirs.
There is a continuous supply of calcium ions from rocks, organisms, and soil in the waterways. For example, it is also an important component that forms the "forest of the sea" – the coral reefs, the colorful and alluring underwater ecosystem created by reef-building corals.
Calcium ions are essential and utilized for biological functions such as the production of bones, teeth, and cell development.
Humble Beginnings | Fins to Limbs, Gills to Lungs - but the Eyes have it!
Life on Earth began 385 million years ago when the invertebrate-to-vertebrate transition took place, marking a significant turning point during the evolution of the animal kingdom.
But life started even earlier with microscopic organisms that left signals of their presence in rocks about 3.7 billion years old. They began forming at the end of a period called the late heavy bombardment, some 3.8 billion years ago.
Invertebrates evolved several important traits well before vertebrates even appeared. These traits are found in just about all animals.
Sea animals underwent numerous morphological transitions that allowed them to make their way out of the briny depths. The invertebrates probably did not go willingly, although we’d have to ask Captains Nemo or Ahab if clams screamed when plucked from the sea.
Invertebrates are animals that do not have a backbone, and clams are one example – their protection is on the outside in the form of a shell. Being goo, oysters and clams do not lead very active lives. They cannot extend far out of their shells to crawl – and while this seems like a sad life – let’s just not tell them that. Happy as a clam? Maybe.
When it comes to fun, now we are talking about vertebrate animals. With the help of calcium carbonate, soft-bodied sea organisms grew into familiar forms such as skeletonized fish, then amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. With luck, some became dinosaurs, and others, eventually, as of January 1, 2022, ended up as 7,868,872,451 billion humans (These souls could only be lucky if there were no suffering, and we all know that’s not true).
These humble beginnings - from goo to skeletons to walking upright on land - required sea creatures to first adapt their fins for limbs and their gills for lungs to facilitate the transition.
To be completely honest, though, the power and re-positioning of the eyes first led our aquatic ancestors to make the momentous leap from water to land.
With a tripling in size of the eyes and a shift in location from the side of the head to the top, crocodile-like animals got a better glimpse of easy meals on land – and then grew the limbs – that enabled them to pounce on tasty critters unaware they were next on the menu.
These pioneering fish literally lifted themselves out of seawater to remove themselves from a competitive environment. As a result, their new habitat proved advantageous, rewarding them with increased shelter and food resources of enticing plants and insects.
Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for marine organisms to grow skeletons.
Vitamin D triggered into formation by chemical reactions with the help of sunlight plays an integral role in fashioning skeletons by herding calcium to all the right places.
Combining Vitamin K2 with D3 works to your Advantage
Vitamin D controls bone density, well-being, and sleep. But why add vitamin K? Vitamins D3 and K2 work together in perfect harmony. Vitamin D3 directs the absorption of Calcium from your intestines into the blood. Vitamin K2 takes it from there, delivering that Calcium into your bones.
There are many well-known vitamins, but the K vitamins tend to take a back seat.
Vitamins D3 and K2 are often combined. They are both fat-soluble, and together they help maintain healthy bones by ensuring proper absorption and use of Calcium in the body.
If you're getting plenty of vitamin D in your quest for better health, add vitamin K2. Think of vitamin K2 as an orchestrator – a mover of Calcium.
Nourishing sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D, essential for a healthy immune system. It also plays a role in the health of all body systems.
Most vitamin D is made in the epidermis through a series of steps involving photosynthesis. When exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun, cholesterol in the skin is converted to cholecalciferol (D3) and ergocalciferol (D2). From there they travel in the bloodstream to the liver where they are metabolized to form calcidiol. Once they get to the kidneys they are converted to the active hormone, calcitriol.
Research has shown that insufficient vitamin D levels in the blood are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Low vitamin D levels have also been linked to seasonal depression, arthritis, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and dementia. This has caused the popularity of vitamin D in supplement form to skyrocket.
In a collaborative study (2021) by the Universities of Surrey and Brighton in the United Kingdom, new research found significant differences between the two types of vitamin D.
Researchers investigated the impact of vitamin D supplements on the activity of genes in people's blood.
The study found vitamin D2 has a questionable impact on human health. But it also learned vitamin D3 could balance the immune system and help strengthen defenses against viral infections such as COVID-19.
The evidence showed vitamin D3 had a modifying effect on the immune system that could fortify the body against viral and bacterial diseases. Thus, a healthy vitamin D3 status may help prevent viruses and bacteria from gaining a foothold in the body.
Spring is when the power of resurrection is visible in all of nature. This also applies to you. Light pours down as the sun charges your body. Take a walk in the fresh air and let the sun work its magic on you.
Vitamin D Deficiency is Widespread | The more vitamin D you take, the better? Absolutely not!
Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are problems for both developing and developed countries.
One study reports roughly 1 billion people are affected by vitamin-D deficiency, and around 50% of the global population has vitamin D insufficiency.
The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Europe, the USA, and the Middle East ranges from 20 to 90%. Reports on countries like Australia, India, Africa, South America, Turkey, and Lebanon show similar trends.
Mega-dosing Vitamin D can create other Problems
While the "sunshine vitamin" promotes calcium absorption, which is good for your bones, it can increase the body's calcium load. This is potentially problematic for heart health and your kidneys.
Taking too much vitamin D can be toxic. It can lead to hypercalcemia when too much Calcium builds up in the blood. Hypercalcemia can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination. In addition, vitamin D toxicity might progress to bone pain and kidney problems, such as forming calcium stones.
You do not need to get a certain amount of sun exposure every day to produce enough vitamin D to be healthy. It's just not true. Most people can get their vitamin D from nutritional supplements and vitamin D-fortified foods.
Measure your Personal Vitamin D Levels with the Everlywell at-home Test
K2 | Don't confuse it with potassium!
Vitamin K comes from the German word "Koagulation," meaning "clotting," as this molecule plays an essential role in blood clotting.
Although often confused with potassium, the K vitamins are not the same, though potassium is the letter K on the periodic table. Vitamin K is not a mineral but a vitamin essential for your body.
Vitamin K is a group of vitamins that includes vitamins K1 and K2. In nature, vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is synthesized in the chloroplasts of green plants. This explains why vitamin K1 comes mainly from green vegetables and various types of cabbage.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is synthesized by bacteria in the intestinal flora. Hard cheese, soft cheese, and cottage cheese are considered good sources.
As already mentioned, vitamin K is fat-soluble. This explains why vitamin K2, found in animal foods, is often better absorbed by the human body than vitamin K1. Yet menaquinone accounts for only 25% of total vitamin K intake in humans.
On the Hunt for Vitamin K
The K vitamins are fat-soluble and are necessary for normal blood clotting.
In food, vitamin K occurs in two different forms – in plants as phylloquinone (K1) and as a product formed by intestinal bacteria, as menaquinone (K2). Synthetic vitamin K is known as K3.
The K2 form is not found in large amounts in food – except for fermented foods such as natto; therefore, vitamin K is often neglected.
Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables and may be one of the protective factors of a vegetarian diet against osteoporosis.
- Dark green vegetables
- Green tea
- Asparagus and Broccoli
- Cabbage, Chard, and Cauliflower
- Green tea
- Peas and Parsley
- Turnip greens
- Whole grains
High-fat cheese, eggs, and beef liver are probably not among the first foods you think of for a heart-healthy diet. But in recent years, researchers have been working on learning which nutrients are essential for cardiovascular health. This led them to vitamin K2, which is contained in precisely these foods.
7 essential benefits of Vitamin K2
Side Effects & Precautions when taking Vitamin K2
Side effects of ingesting high amounts of vitamin K2 through food are infrequent, however, high doses of vitamin K supplements can have side effects.
Studies suggest that taking 15 mg of vitamin K2 three times a day is perfectly safe. However, too much vitamin K can cause complications in patients with bleeding disorders.
If you decide to take it in supplement form, make sure it includes vitamin K2 (menaquinone) explicitly in the form of MK7.
For a time, vitamin K3 (menadione) was produced in synthetic form, but it is no longer used today and can even be toxic in higher doses.
Dosage | Getting enough Vitamin K2
We need an estimated 500 to 1,000mcg (read 'micrograms') of vitamin K2 from our daily diet.
Adults should get less, between 100 and 300 micrograms. For example, a child under 12 needs just 45 micrograms per day. However, certain conditions might require you to take more, as a doctor recommends.
There are no known severe side effects from taking too much vitamin K2, but it is sensible to stick to the recommended intake.
Vitamin K2 is a potent INHIBITOR of tissue calcification, and deficiency can lead to Calcium being deposited in blood vessels. K-2 guides Calcium into bones and teeth and keeps it out of soft tissues like arteries.
Supplementing with K2 helps reduce the development of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, deficiency in vitamin K-2 is common in individuals with chronic kidney disease.
More than 4,000 international units (I.U.) per day is potentially unsafe, so it is best to stick to a 600 to 800 IU dose recommended for most people.
Vitamins D2 & D3 | RDA versus Upper Intake Level
Concern started building in 2000 when research into vitamin D's role in health conditions began to expand. Vitamin D clearly has a role in bone health, but the evidence that it prevents other health conditions is not yet conclusive.
The richest food sources of vitamin D provide only a tiny percentage of the recommended daily intake of 800 IU. Good health, in general, does NOT require supplementing with large amounts of vitamin D.
Vitamin D supplementation is standard practice in the United States; about one-fifth of the adult population takes a daily supplement in one form or another.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin D, assuming minimal sun exposure, provides the daily amount needed to maintain healthy bones and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people.
The RDA for adults 19 years and older is 600 to 800 IU daily for men and women, depending on age. Adults over 70 need the higher amount, or 800 IU.
Tolerable Upper Intake Level: is the maximum daily intake unlikely to cause harmful effects. The U.L. for vitamin D for adults and children is 4,000 IU.
Targeting an intake of 600 to 800 IU per day will support bone health and cardiovascular and kidney health.
Food Sources of Vitamin D
You can derive smaller amounts of vitamin D by eating out of three general food groups.
- Natural Foods
- Animal-based Foods
- Fortified Foods (this includes Infant Formula)
Few foods naturally contain Vitamin D
The flesh of fatty fish (such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are the best sources. An animal's diet affects the amount of vitamin D in its tissues. For example, beef liver, egg yolks, full-cream milk, and cheese have small amounts of vitamin D, primarily in vitamin D3 and its metabolite 25(O.H.)D3. Mushrooms provide variable amounts of vitamin D2.
Animal-based Foods provide some Vitamin D
One study found that when the 25(O.H.)D content of beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and eggs are considered; the total amount of vitamin D in the food is 2 to 18 times higher than the amount in the parent vitamin alone.
Fortified Foods provide most of the Vitamin D in American Diets
Almost all the U.S. milk supply is voluntarily fortified with about 3 mcg/cup (120 IU), usually in the form of vitamin D3. Other dairy products made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream, are not usually fortified in the United States or Canada.
Plant milk alternatives (such as beverages made from soy, almond, or oats) are often fortified with similar amounts of vitamin D to those in fortified cow's milk.
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals often contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine, and other food products. The United States mandates the fortification of infant formula with 40–100 IU of vitamin D.
Vitamin D3 | Ally of the Immune System
Vitamin D has a very broad spectrum of activity on the immune system.
Researchers have studied the effects of different types of vitamin D on human genes. For example, they found that vitamin D3 has a modifying effect on the immune system, which can fortify the body against viral and bacterial diseases. Vitamin D3 seems to stimulate the type I interferon signaling system.
Sunshine Vitamin - Vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol
There are two ways to obtain vitamin D: food and sun. And while yes, fatty fish flesh is a decent source of vitamin D compared to other foods — flashing bare skin and pretending to be a sun goddess works, too.
Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is in a class of medications called vitamin D analogs. Your body produces this vitamin as a response to sun exposure, hence its nickname, Sunshine Vitamin.
Cholecalciferol is needed by the body for healthy bones, muscles, and nerves and to support the immune system. It works by helping the body use more of the Calcium found in foods or supplements.
Vitamin D is essential for our body, but not all vitamin D is created equal. There are two types of vitamin D: D2 and D3. Regarding K2's role in human health, we are most interested in vitamin D3 here.
The different types of vitamin D come from various sources: vitamin D3 is produced naturally by the skin through exposure to sunlight or artificial light. In contrast, vitamin D2 comes from certain plants and fungi in foods like oily fish, dark chocolate, egg yolk, and dairy products.
Vitamin D's primary function is to increase calcium and phosphorus concentrations in the blood. It is fundamental for good bone health, but it is also involved in nerve transmission, hormonal regulation, and immune cell activity.
Maintaining a sufficient level of Calcium in the blood ensures:
- Optimal mineralization of tissues, especially bone, cartilage, and teeth
- Effective muscle contractions
- Good nerve transmission
- Adequate blood clotting
A "Human Meat Sack" basking under a Yellow Dwarf Star
You were meant to live in daylight - not in caves. To keep your body in good condition, 13 essential vitamins must be consumed in one way or another.
The human body has many needs, one of which is vitamin D squirreled away in fat tissues for later use. Despite its common name, vitamin D is now considered a hormone, in fact, the oldest hormone on Earth.
Luckily, your body can handle it in abundance, which is crucial if you often frolic in the sun and live in climates that allow for fun outside. If you crave the tickle of blades of grass dancing around your toes, let that be your motivation to become the sun goddess you truly are.
You can also get it in the form of a dietary supplement. Surprisingly, vitamin D can be made from lanolin, a fatty substance secreted by the skin glands of sheep to condition their wool.
When you soak up the sun's rays, you might not think of vitamin D, but it has everything to do with a cancer-causing ball of plasma nearly 150 million kilometers away.
Natural Sun Protection for Sensitive Skin
Summary | Vitamins D3 and K2
Your body needs vitamin D. Its main job is to help the body absorb Calcium from the intestines.
Even those who don't normally worship the sun can at least acknowledge the delight of basking in it. Let nature simply do its work. Sunlight helps to regulate everything from your sleep cycle to vitamin D production.
Luxuriating in the sun's rays in the early morning — that is, from 7 am to 9 am — is the best time to get your 5 to 10 minutes of exposure, enough to manufacture Vitamin D. After 10 am, exposure to sunlight is harmful to the body.
There are vitamin D receptors (VDR) located in almost every tissue in our body and in all the major organs – and a little exposure is all we need.
That old meat sack of yours is capable of photosynthesis, just like the noble phytoplankton.
We "photosynthesize" vitamin D so the body can metabolize Calcium to help "mineralize the skeleton" throughout our lifetimes. It isn't the same process by which plants create food from sunlight, but it literally is a form of photosynthesis — the use of light to synthesize a chemical.
It's long been known that Vitamin D functions with Calcium to keep bones healthy and avoid deformities such as rickets in children and Osteomalacia (softening of the bones) in adults.*
But it is becoming increasingly clear that it also plays a vital role in our immune system, helping to fight off bacterial, viral, and fungal invaders.
Vitamins D3 and K2 work together in perfect harmony
Vitamin K is a natural vitamin that promotes blood clotting. It is mainly found in green leafy vegetables. A deficiency is quite rare. Vitamin K is essential, but certain conditions may develop if you suffer from a lack of it. A healthy and balanced diet is recommended to cover daily needs.
And what of vitamins Z, J, and Y?
Vitamin Z was an English band formed in 1982 whose biggest hit was "Burning Flame."
Vitamin J is not only a thing but also a good thing! - commonly-known as choline, but not your concern unless you are into nootropics.
And vitamin Y, well, you've probably never heard of it. It is not a vitamin you can get from seeds, nuts, or meat. It is simply 'me time.' So, take out time for yourself every day. It must be a 60s thing …
There are numerous interactions between vitamin K supplements and various medications. Talk to your doctor if you need to take medication regularly and want to use vitamin K.
* Osteomalacia is a condition in adults in which bones become soft and deformed because they don't have enough Calcium and phosphorus. It is usually caused by not having enough vitamin D in the diet or not getting enough sunlight.
© 2005 - 2022, Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing, LLC. All rights reserved