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6 Best Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels During the Winter

November 15, 2023 10 min read

Get Vitamin D naturally without taking the supplemental form!

Topics in this article Include:

A Few Surprising Facts about Vitamin D 

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Testing for Vitamin D3

How Vitamin D3 Forms in the Body Naturally 

The Importance of Cholesterol in the Making of Vitamin D 

The Importance of Bile in the Making of Vitamin D

The Importance of Mushrooms in the Making of Vitamin D

The Importance of Pancreatic Enzymes in the Assimilation of Fats and Fat-Soluble Vitamin D

The Importance of Sea Vegetables in Providing Vitamin D

Best Ways to Obtain Vitamin D, Vitamin D Support Nutrients, Digestive Enzymes, Bile, and Sunlight?

6 Best Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels During the Winter (without taking supplements)

A Few Surprising Facts about Vitamin D

  • Vitamin D is technically not a vitamin. It is a hormone, specifically a secosteroid (slightly different from typical steroidal hormones like cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone).

  • There are actually 5 distinct forms of vitamin D—vitamin D1-D5:

    • D1—ergocalciferol mixed with lumisterol, a plant-based combination formed by exposure to sunlight (D1 is a precursor to D2)

    • D2—ergocalciferol (made from ergosterol).  Mushrooms are a primary source of D2.  D2 presence in mushrooms can be increased by exposure to sunlight. 

    • D3—cholecalciferol (made from 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin via sunlight, and is made by the liver and kidneys from D2.  D3 is also found in some mushrooms)

    • D4—22-dihydroergocalciferol (produced from 22,23-dihydroergosterol and sunlight).  Vitamin D4 is also found in certain mushrooms.

    • D5—sitocalciferol (made from 7-dehydrositosterol) currently being studied for its role in mitigating many kinds of cancer and is also found in some mushrooms

  • Many studies have now shown that vitamin D plays a role in preventing hospitalizations and deaths from SARS-Cov-2.

  • A recent study documented that simple UVB sunlight exposure can protect against the severity of SARS-Cov-2 symptoms.

  • A functioning liver can store several months of sunshine and plant-based Vitamin D for wintertime use.

  • Natural Vitamin D (easily derived from sunlight and food) is necessary for regulating the balance between Vitamin A, Zinc, and Iron, all of which play a role in reducing risk of cold and flu symptoms, along with numerous other health conditions.

  • If you are going to use supplements, use un-patented plant-based sources (mushrooms and sea vegetables) of Vitamin D2 or D3 (natural sources cannot be patented). The pharmaceutical industry has produced a patented chemical synthetic version of Vitamin D2 and sold it to the public unaware of its ineffectiveness and dangerous side-effects.

  • Sun tea (especially pine needle tea) provides a concentrated amount of sunlight with numerous health benefits to the body, including enhanced synthesis of Vitamin D3.

Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Vitamin D receptors (VDRs) exist in most tissues and organs of the body, including the brain, heart, kidneys, skin, nervous system, vascular system, skeletal system, reproductive organs, endocrine system, respiratory system, intestines, and breast tissue, making it possible for Vitamin D to produce its valuable effects in those areas.

Vitamin D plays a beneficial role in numerous areas of human physiology including:

Testing for Vitamin D3

  • There are two kinds of Vitamin D tests—  -25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)D.

  • 25(OH)D (also called 25-hydroxy vitamin D) is the best indicator to test for.

  • To raise blood levels of Vitamin D anytime of year, increased exposure to sunshine and daily consumption of mushrooms, sea vegetables, superfoods, and sun tea will typically provide sufficient Vitamin D levels. 

  • Average blood levels of 25(OH)D should be around 50-75 ng/ml.

  • Test or no test, does it really matter whether you know what your Vitamin D levels are at? Hey, it's winter! Do everything you can to maximize your Vitamin D levels naturally.

  • If health is compromised in some way, or Vitamin D-rich foods are unavailable, Vitamin D supplements can help raise blood levels. 3,000-5,000 IU per day is considered safe and sufficient for the average healthy person. More if health is compromised. Yet megadosing of Vitamin D comes with some cautions (see below).

  • Getting your Vitamin D naturally from foods and sunshine is the preferable way to go, yet it is understood that in some cases supplementation is necessary in the short term, or in combination with food sources. 

  • It is possible to overdose on bottled versions of vitamin D, which can .  So it is recommended to be taking blood tests regularly and keep the daily dose at 5,000 IU or less, or megadose once a week rather than daily. 

  • An excess of supplemental vitamin D can result in the inhibition of stem cell activity in the body.  Not what you want if regeneration and healing is your goal.

  • Northern climates that do not have as much sunshine during the winter generally have an abundance of wild mushrooms and sea vegetables that can be dried (or bought) for a steady winter supply of Vitamin D.

  • CAUTION: Both extensive hours of sunlight and/or megadoses of Vitamin D supplementation plus additional calcium from meat and dairy, or calcium supplements, can increase muscle cramps, and in extreme cases trigger a heart attack, stroke, kidney stones, bone fractures and other undesirable conditions including arteriosclerosis.

  • The reason is because sunlight increases Vitamin D in the blood and Vitamin D improves calcium bioavailability. Calcium triggers muscle contraction. Magnesium relaxes the muscles. But when calcium overwhelms the calcium/magnesium ratio in the body, muscles contract but cannot sufficiently relax.

  • A daily overdose of a vitamin D supplement, especially in combination with high calcium foods, can result in serious health problems from hypercalcemia: Over-calcification of soft tissues, heart, and bones, kidney stones, kidney failure, hypertension, nausea, vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite, apathy, headache, thirst, itching, sweating, and/or frequent urination (Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy).

    High calcium foods like cheese, milk, cream, meat, eggs, etc. consumed around days of being out in the sun for several hours can cause muscle cramping and restless leg syndrome due to an excess of calcium in the blood. 

  • An excess of calcium from calcium or Vitamin D supplements and diet, especially when hours of sunlight exposure are added to the mix, can trigger a heart attack due to a cramping of the heart muscle. (BTW a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a cup of hot water is a well known remedy for stopping a heart attack within seconds.)

  • Weekly dosing (rather than daily dosing) of high therapeutic levels of Vitamin D tends to reduce the potential threat of hypercalcemia.

  • Ancient Mineral Blend generally contains enough magnesium to relax muscles from a high calcium muscle contraction. Pine Needle Tea consumed regularly also helps maintain improved magnesium levels.

  • Otherwise a clay bath or liquid spray on the skin of Ocean Magnesium (in Black Beauty) will infuse magnesium through the skin to offset an excess of calcium.

How Vitamin D3 Forms in the Body Naturally

Synthesis of Vitamin D
  • The formation of the active version of Vitamin D (D3) begins as 7-Dehydrocholesterol (note: "cholesterol") stored in the skin which is converted by UVB sunlight exposure into a form of D3 (cholecalciferol) known as previtamin D3, and takes little over a day in the body to complete. (Illustration provided by "Vitamin D for COVID-19: real-time meta analysis of 110 studies" linked above.)

  • Window glass blocks most of the UVB sunlight, so exposure to direct sunlight is important to maximize the synthesis of previtamin D3.  

  • 20-30 minutes a day of exposure to direct sunlight is generally sufficient to provide all that the body is able to manufacture of previtamin D3, unless the body is under greater levels of immune stress or toxicity that is depleting Vitamin D reserves. 

  • This is why an animal that is sick will fast and lie in the sun for hours until recovered.

  • Cholecalciferol (D3) and ergocalciferol (D2) are also the two common forms ingested from the diet and from supplements. Both forms are found naturally in plants, especially those exposed more to the sun.

  • Dietary and supplemental Vitamin D, as well as Vitamin D from skin synthesis, is biologically inactive. They are activated by two stages of conversion via protein enzymes that add an oxygen molecule between a CH bond (hydroxylation), first in the liver, and then in the kidneys in this manner:

    • Hydroxylation makes cholesterol lipids more water soluble, therefore more usable in various locations throughout the body. 

    • Cholecalciferol is first hydroxylated in the liver to become calcidiol (25-dihydroxyvitamin D, or 25 (OH)D). This is the form that is normally tested for when getting a D3 blood test. 

    • A kidney enzyme is then used to hydroxylate the compound again into the most active hormone form of D3 - calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3).

    • Calcidiol D3 is also synthesized into calcitriol D3 by the immune system. Monocyte-macrophages function to stimulate body defenses against microbial pathogens (bacteria, mold, parasites, etc.).

  • As can be seen from this sequence of events, a well functioning liver, kidneys, and immune system are critical to the synthesis of Vitamin D's most usable form. 

  • This fact drives home the importance of detoxification and the daily strengthening of these body systems. (Digestive Bitters, Immune Power, Purify, and Kidney & Adrenal Builder are utilized for these purposes). 

  • In nature, fungi (mushrooms) assist in the synthesis of cholesterol-containing compounds (which is one reason why mushrooms contain so much Vitamin D). 

  • Fat-soluble vitamins D, E, K and A are all cholesterol-containing compounds.

  • Mushrooms commonly contain both D2 and D3, which can be increased significantly by drying mushrooms in the sunlight.

  • Drinking sun tea (like pine needle tea) is also an excellent way to increase Vitamin D synthesis in your body due to the additional UVB exposure held within the sunned tea. 

Other Nutrients Required to Improve Vitamin D Synthesis and Utilization

Taking a Vitamin D supplement will be ineffective unless a broad spectrum of other nutrients are consumed in the food and herbs of your daily diet. Here are a few known to impact the bioavailability of Vitamin D, yet there are quite likely other nutrients that have not been discovered that play roles as well: 
  • Magnesium: Required for every stage of Vitamin D metabolism. Magnesium is essential for the proper utilization of Vitamin D.

  • Zinc: Receptors of Vitamin D in the body require Zinc to receive vitamin D, without which, absorption is not possible.

  • Boron: Every cell of the body requires Boron to facilitate the utilization of Vitamin D at the cell wall. A deficiency of Boron can result in a deficiency of Vitamin D.

  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C works cooperatively with Vitamin D to enhance the body’s immune response. They are both involved in the production of antioxidants (like glutathione). Vitamin C from whole herbs are superior to the typical ascorbic acid and liposomal versions of ascorbic acid.

  • Vitamin K2: K2 works cooperatively with Vitamin D to store calcium in the bones and teeth, rather than the arterial walls.

  • Sea Vegetables provide a broad spectrum of such nutrients in a balance of ratios created by Nature, thus insuring Vitamin D's most efficient utilization in the body. Sea vegetables also contain Vitamin D due to their constant daytime contact with the sun.

  • Earth & Sea Greens and Vital Cleanse & Nutrify are two superfood blends with hundreds of plant-based nutritional compounds, beyond just the basic vitamins and minerals most commonly focused on. 

The Importance of Cholesterol in the Making of Vitamin D

  • Cholesterol is an important component for the manufacture of bile acids, steroid hormones, and several fat-soluble vitamins – D, E, K and A.

  • Cholesterol is also required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity at the cellular level.

  • Cholesterol is recycled. It is excreted by the liver via the bile into the digestive tract. Typically about 50% of the excreted cholesterol is reabsorbed by the small bowel back into the bloodstream for further use in the construction of fat-soluble vitamins.

  • Cholesterol is also an important precursor molecule for the synthesis of steroidal hormones (like Vitamin D), including the adrenal gland hormones cortisol and aldosterone, as well as the sex hormones progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, and their derivatives.

The Importance of Bile in the Making of Vitamin D

  • Bile aids in the emulsification, and therefore the assimilation, of fats.

  • Bile also aids in the construction of steroidal hormones (Vitamin D is a secosteroid hormone).

  • Since bile increases the absorption of fats, it plays an important role in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins D, E, K and A.

  • Bile is naturally concentrated and stored in the gallbladder between meals. Following a meal bile is discharged into the small intestines where the bile helps to digest lipids through emulsification (this includes fats and fat soluble vitamins).

  • Bile salts are also bactericidal to the invading microbes that enter with food, reducing stress on the immune system, thereby reducing the strain on Vitamin D reserves.

  • Bitter foods and bitter herbs stimulate the production of bile.

The Importance of Mushrooms in the Making of Vitamin D

  • In nature, fungi (mushrooms) help break down fats and cellulose.

  • Fungi also assist in the synthesis of cholesterol-containing compounds.

  • Fat-soluble vitamins D, E, K and A are all cholesterol-containing compounds.

  • Mushrooms synthesize all 5 forms of vitamin D

  • Expose your mushrooms to the sun to further increase their vitamin D content 

The Importance of Pancreatic Enzymes in the Assimilation of Fats and Fat-Soluble Vitamin D

The Importance of Sea Vegetables in Providing Vitamin D

  • Ocean seaweeds, algae, and phytoplankton absorb sunlight unshaded continuously throughout the day and thereby produce Vitamin D readily within their nutrient makeup.

  • Fish oils are a common source of Vitamin D because they consume algae and phytoplankton.

  • The contaminants in fish oils today due to chemical pollution (that tend to concentrate in the fats) make this an undesirable source for obtaining Vitamin D.

  • Seaweeds and algae are natural detoxifiers of the ocean waters through emission of their minerals and nutrients to neutralize toxins in the waters. Unless overwhelmed, they remain clean sources of nutrients. 

  • Therefore, when derived from the more pristine areas, seaweeds, algae, and phytoplankton remain valuable nutrient resources. 

Best Ways to Obtain Vitamin D, Vitamin D Support Nutrients, Digestive Enzymes, Bile, and Sunlight?

  • Eat bitter foods, bitter herbs, digestive spices, medicinal mushrooms, sea vegetables, face the sun with eyes closed any time of day, and make sun tea.

6 Best Ways to Increase Vitamin D Levels During the Winter (without taking supplements)

1. Face the sun, especially on cloudy days (with eyes closed when the sun is too bright) - also provides other health benefits too numerous to mention.

a. Just face the sun until the face gets pink. No need to burn or stress your system. Let the sun shine directly on the eyes with eyes closed.

b. Cannot overdose on D this way. No additional D is gained from sunburns. 

2. Make sun tea by leaving a quart to a gallon of water with herbs of any kind (especially pine needles) out in the sun for an hour or more.

3. Eat bitter foods or bitter herbs with every oil laden meal to stimulate bile. (Digestive Bitters)

4. Eat digestive spices with every meal to stimulate enzymes and proteins in the pancreas and intestines. (Digestive Bitters)

5. Eat Sea Vegetables daily for many reasons (alkalinity, amino acids, minerals, iodine, selenium, hormone support, etc.) including Vitamin D. (Sea Vegetable Blend plus Moringa

6. Eat medicinal (and common edible) mushrooms regularly to assist in the formation and use of Vitamin D in the body (Adaptogen & Mushroom Blend). 

Many blessings of health & success,
Enjoy the simple gifts from Nature!

Michael King
Michael King

Michael King is a Life Enrichment Consultant, a natural intuitive, a researcher of Nature's most powerful healing resources the world over, the author of "Detoxify, Nourish & Build – Three Essentials for Vibrant Health", the Vital Health News Updates – a periodic newsletter documenting the most life-building natural resources on the planet, The Blessing Transformation, and the co-author of Life Chats with Oversoul – an ongoing dialogue designed to gain clarity and direction while navigating the immense changes going into the New Era. Michael is also an advocate of sustainable gardening, environmental responsibility, and an architect of ways to increase global food production.

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