Nature’s Hormone Hack: The Power of Vitamin D

Do you have chronic fatigue (the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep)? Are you an emotional roller coaster (feeling up, down and all over the place)? Do you have a sickness you just can’t seem to shake (poor functioning immune system)? Do you have a hormonal imbalance (thyroid dysfunction, irregular cycle or adrenal fatigue)? Do you have weak bones (osteoporosis or osteopenia)? Do you have an inability to put on muscle or lose weight (given your efforts!)?

One of the most common findings in my functional diagnostic medicine practice is a Vitamin D deficiency. All of these can relate back to a sub-optimal level of Vitamin D (lab values less than 20).

Vitamin D is Actually a Prohormone

This means it’s required to carry out a ton of hormonal reactions in the body. And it’s made in the liver, so if your liver isn’t healthy this isn’t helping the situation! Get your Vitamin D level tested in the beginning of winter months and again at the start of warmer months (twice/year) so you can supplement accordingly when that time of the year rolls around. The right amount of Vitamin D can be a game changer! Let’s learn more: 

  • Vitamin D is actually a hormone the kidneys produce that controls blood calcium concentration and impacts the immune system
  • Vitamin D is also known as calcitriol, ergocalciferol, calcidiol and cholecalciferol
  • Vitamin D is made in your skin. It’s a response from the sunlight. You can also get it from foods you eat. 

The Power of Vitamin D

In a 2016 study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, we learned that ongoing exposure to sunlight reduced weight gain in mice. The mice ate a high fat diet. So what exactly does it do? Vitamin D is, in part, responsible for regulating mood, boosting immunity, supporting bone health, regulating hormonal balance, and preventing chronic diseases. Specifically, it: 

  1. Regulates mood: Research shows that Vitamin D can play a significant role in regulating mood. If you have low levels of Vitamin D, it’s likely you also have depression and anxiety. Women who experience hormonal imbalances and suffer from mood swings can benefit from an optimum level of Vitamin D. Sun exposure, together with a healthy diet and supplements, can improve symptoms of PMS, depression, and anxiety. 
  2. Boosts immune system: Vitamin D is a key player in keeping our immune system strong. It can help our bodies fight off infections and reduce inflammation. Women with hormone imbalances tend to have weakened immune systems, which means they are more vulnerable to infections and diseases. Don’t be afraid to supplement. It can help with contracting respiratory infections, such as the flu and colds.
  3. Supports bone health: Vitamin D and calcium work hand in hand to keep our bones strong. The sunshine vitamin is essential in absorbing calcium and phosphorus. Women with hormonal imbalances and low levels of Vitamin D are at risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. 
  4. Regulates hormonal balance: Vitamin D acts as a hormone in our body, and it plays a vital role in regulating hormone levels. It is especially important for women who experience hormonal imbalances, such as PCOS, endometriosis, and irregular periods. When you get more Vitamin D, you can improve hormonal imbalances and symptoms such as acne, hirsutism, and infertility.
  5. Prevents chronic diseases: Studies have linked low levels of Vitamin D to all sorts of chronic diseases. Think cancer and diabetes, and even heart disease. Women who suffer from hormonal imbalances and low levels of Vitamin D are at risk.

How to Get More Vitamin D 

The sun is an easy way to get your daily dose of Vitamin D. However, women who have hormone issues may find it difficult to get outside when their health is suffering. Besides, you might live in an area where it is not sunny year round. If you struggle with feelings of sadness or depression during certain times of the year I know it’s hard to make that happen. Remember, there is evidence that shows lack of the fat soluble Vitamin-D can lead to insulin resistance and estrogen imbalance. Which means if you aren’t supplementing the exact dosage right for you, you can expect anything from depression to hot flashes, mood swings and so much more. 

If this is you, you’ll want to get tested multiple times/year and meet your body where you are at! You’ll produce enough Vitamin D in just thirty minutes of sun exposure a day or a few times a week for happy hormones that will boost your metabolism. 

Wait – I Spend so Much Time Outside! Could it Still be a Vitamin D Deficiency? 

Unfortunately, yes. Underlying gastrointestinal (hello, leaky-gut!) and liver dysfunction greatly impacts Vitamin D’s upregulation, integration and assimilation making it possible to be Vitamin D deficient while residing in a sunny state. Adequate Vitamin D slows the activity of the HPA-Axis, thereby reducing cortisol and decreasing your stress response. I’m a huge proponent of getting OUTSIDE but I’m also realistic and check my own Vit-D levels when the seasons change to ensure I’m getting enough because I have to continually support my adrenal glands to keep my own stress response in check. 

Find a functional medicine practitioner in your area to work with locally or we can work together virtually to ensure you get back on track.