How to Maximise Your Absorption of Vitamin D

By Julie Dargan | Blog Posting

Feb 26
When UVB rays strike the surface of your skin, your skin converts a cholesterol derivative in your skin into vitamin D3. However, the vitamin D3 that is formed  on the surface of your skin does not immediately penetrate into your bloodstream. It actually needs to be absorbed from the surface of your skin into your bloodstream.
This fat-soluble vitamin is actually more like a hormone, as it is synthesized by the body itself. The action of sunlight on a cholesterol derivative in the skin oils prompts the formation of a precursor, provitamin D, which then is absorbed through the skin back into the body, and goes to the liver for initial processing, and then to the kidneys which produce the active Vitamin D3, also called cholecalciferol, it in its final form, a process that takes about 36 hours.
The oils on the skin are easily destroyed by soap. A good analogy of this is when we wash dirty clothes or dishes with high oil content we need soap break down the oils.
This is what happens if we jump into a shower straight after a run in the sun, day out in the sun etc. We then go crazy and get a good lather up, thus removing all natural body oils and much of the vitamin D3 your skin generated.
There is little evidence to back up this theory but it does make sense. Why are there so many people in Australia with very low levels of Vitamin D? Many people are now washing twice a day and lathering up each time. I receive a lot of scepticism on this theory but what I say to people is what do you have to lose?
Do you really need soap all over your body every time you wash?  In reality, you only need to use soap underneath your arms and your groin area. You just want to avoid soaping up the larger areas of your body that were exposed to the sun. Try this out this summer and see for yourself the change in your Vitamin D levels.
One of the precursors for vitamin D is cholesterol. Vitamin D is actually formed by exposing cholesterol found in the skin to sunlight. Cholesterol is the basic building block of vitamin D in the human body. Therefore, low levels of cholesterol can lead to vitamin D deficiency.
So if you’re taking drugs to decrease cholesterol or statin drugs, you’ll lower your cholesterol levels. This in turn will decrease your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D. This is yet another potential reason why so many people’s vitamin D levels may be low, or have trouble optimizing vitamin D levels.
Since cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, inhibiting the synthesis of cholesterol will also inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D. Since sunlight is required to turn cholesterol into vitamin D, avoiding the sun will likewise undermine our ability to synthesize vitamin D. And since vitamin D-rich foods are also rich in cholesterol, low-cholesterol diets are inherently deficient in vitamin D.
Cholesterol-containing body oils are critical to this absorption process. Because the body needs 30-60 minutes to absorb these vitamin-D-containing oils (once it is absorbed from the suns UVB rays), it is best to delay showering or bathing for one hour after exposure. The skin oils in which vitamin D is produced can also be removed by chlorine in swimming pools.
Vitamin D is not produced by the skin, but by the interaction of sunlight with natural oils produced by the skin: the same oils that soap and detergent destroy. Vitamin D will be formed if sufficient oils are present on the skin.
What tips would you recommend to assist anyone in need of boosting their Vitamin D levels? I would love to hear from you and will respond to any queries you may have on this subject.

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About the Author

Julie Dargan RN, ND, BHSc works with Successful, Busy, Menopausal Women find relief from hot flushes and night sweats, & lose weight gained in their middle years, through diet and lifestyle changes.

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