I began looking at Vitamin D differently about two years ago, when I started learning from Dr. Stephanie Seneff. See Dr. Stephanie Seneff, D3 and Cholesterol Sulfate. I occasionally email chat with Dr. Seneff when I trip across something new and seemingly along the lines of her hypothesis that researchers really don’t understand Vitamin D. According to Dr. Seneff cholesterol sulfate likely causes the health benefits that are currently attributed to D.
Huh? Pretty brainy stretching when you read about and listen to Dr. Seneff’s ideas (see the Mercola link here for more details: Dr. Stephanie Seneff, D3 and Cholesterol Sulfate). It is so brainy that I am able to pull out the main threads of her thinking but not understand all of the details. I wish that Google had a medical translator in addition to its language translator. I remain intrigued with Vitamin D because neither Colson nor I have adequate D levels and we require supplementation from emulsified D (fermented cod liver oil doesn’t do the trick for us) even though we seemingly do everything right as far as sun exposure.
I have recently learned about a few new ideas concerning D, its importance and what are the appropriate levels. Robb Wolf was the first to come across my radar. Here is the email that I sent to Dr. Seneff regarding Robb’s discussion:
Thought you both might be interested in Robb Wolf's podcast. From the link go to Episode 157 and start at minute 38:03 and extend into the question at 43:02.
Apparently there is new thinking that it is ok for people of northern descent to have lower levels of D. Stephan Guyenet is apparently writing an article about this and there is some discussion between Stephan and Chris Kresser about D. Here is Stephan's blog: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/ and here is Chris's website if you are interested: http://chriskresser.com/.
Here are Dr. Seneff’s thoughts:
sounds very interesting -- my guess is that there's a great deal of
confusion between two distinct factors -- sunlight exposure to the skin
and vitamin D3 status in the blood. They would ordinarily be highly
correlated unless someone was taking a lot of vitamin D3 supplements. I
personally think that supplements will not help with heart disease --
they would likely even do harm. And I also think that sun exposure to
the skin is beneficial even if it doesn't raise vitamin D3 levels (some
people seem to be unable to boost vitamin D3 levels through sun
exposure). I attach a news article about a recent study that showed a
worsening of markers for heart disease with mega vitamin D3 supplements.
Article is at this web site:
Here are a few added thoughts from my Dr. of Oriental medicine, whom I need to question further about skin oils and D conversion:
I've had several patients find that if they:
1) don't shower within a few hours after sun
2) when they DO shower that they do so in cold water and,
3) that they use a minimum of soap (crotch, arm pits and that's it),
that THEN they find substantive increases in D with sun exposure. Otherwise, my assumption is that they've washed off the oils in their skin and won't be able to convert to D from sun exposure. I've noticed this on blood tests in several cases.
A week later I came across a fascinating blog post from Getting Stronger regarding hormesis, its possible relationship to low D levels and how supplementation with D can cause problems. Difficult reading, but the theme is that if the body is low on D it is because it using the D to battle some sort of stressor. By supplementing we are throwing off the body’s natural function and possibly damaging it.
The main message for me is: “This is the key point: Low vitamin D levels may be a biomarker for other problems. It may be the consequence, rather than the cause, of certain conditions such as heart disease or obesity. For the same reason, high vitamin D levels may be a biomarker for good health.”
What doesn’t make sense from my perspective is that my son has low D levels even though he is very healthy, he receives plenty of sun exposure and he eats a highly healthy diet from Dr. Seneff’s perspective, the Getting Stronger author’s perspective and the paleo perspective. Could that mean that his northern European genetics from me cause both of us to have lower D, which could be natural and healthy, as alluded to by Robb Wolf?
Here are Dr. Seneff’s thoughts on the hormesis article:
article! They're starting to think the same way I think about vitamin D3.
It's interesting that the foods they list as "healthy": brightly colored and bitter foods and herbs, such as broccoli, blueberries, red peppers, curcumin, green tea and even chocolate.
All either contain lots of sulfur and/or are able to bind and transport sulfate (the polyphenols in tea and chocolate).
Prostate cancer -- whose risk levels went up with vitamin D3 supplements -- is known to produce cholesterol sulfate (they're developing an assay that can detect excess cholesterol sulfate as a marker for prostate cancer). I believe that it comes about due to a deficiency in cholesterol sulfate supply (due to inadequate sun exposure to the skin), which it then helps to overcome (positive effect of cancer!)
I find it fascinating that all these studies are showing detrimental effects of vitamin D3 supplements, yet it's very clear that people whose serum level of vitamin D3 is high are healthier. It rarely seems to occur to anybody except me that vitamin D3 could be a marker for something else that's beneficial that comes about following sun exposure to the skin -- namely, cholesterol sulfate synthesis!
Thanks -- I thought the article was quite good and refreshingly willing to take a hard look at vitamin D3 supplements.
I am also fortunate to have struck up a bit of email conversation with Robb Wolf thanks to my GMO battle with North Carolina Musuem of Natural Sciences (he is opposed to the Museum’s efforts to promote GMO technology, as is Chris Kresser), and I am trying to pull Robb into this D/cholesterol sulfate discussion. Maybe I will get his thoughts via a podcast somewhere down the road. And Chris’ too for that matter.
Finally, I need to slow down and really parse all of this information, as I have probably incompletely or incorrectly linked some ideas and missed some other important connections. It is a pain to research almost every word in some of the medical-related sentences, but I will in order to better understand the messages and hopefully reach a Vitamin D comfort level for Colson and me.