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Stuff You’ve Gotta Know About Vitamin D

Robyn Openshaw - Jul 06, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links


Did you know that Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin? It’s more like a hormone.

(It’s a precursor for the mineral calcium, which has more functions for human beings than any other mineral.)

Did you know that after you go in the sun, your body needs a few hours to convert the substances collected on your skin to Vitamin D in the body?

(Hardly anyone knows this. That’s why I’m writing this blog. It’s a tip that could actually be lifesaving.)

If you’re going to get Vita D from the sun, get regular exposure during daylight hours, and then don’t take a shower for several hours!

Tank up on it during the spring, summer, and fall. Then, during the winter, take 5,000 to 10,000 IU of D3. You got that? D3, not D2!

The most assimilable forms will be in olive oil capsules, rather than hard pills.

Too many of us get very little of it, because we’re office workers who never get outside, or we live in climates with intemperate weather much of the year.

Next post, I’m writing a little about THYROID hormone, which affects many if not most American women—and some men, too.

Posted in: Health Concerns, Holistic Care, Natural Remedies, Supplements, Whole Food

42 thoughts on “Stuff You’ve Gotta Know About Vitamin D”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why D2 vs. D3, and how do we know which our supplement has? I don’t think I’ve seen anything more specific than “Vitamin D” on most labels…(but then, maybe I wasn’t looking?)

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Sandy, it virtually always says D3 (or D2).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn, I had a quick question about traveling with a BlendTec blender. My husband and I are moving out of the country soon and I want to take mine with me, and I wondered what your experience was when flying with one of the blenders. In particular I’m worried about whether to pack the jars in my carry on or my checked baggage, and I can’t seem to find any info on the tsa website. Any help would be appreciated so we can continue our smoothies wherever we end up, thanks!

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      I think the blendtec is not under warranty if you use it out of the country, but you’ll need a converter I think? You can fly with your blender—I just pack it in lots of soft clothes in my suitcase, on the rare occasion I take it with me. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:


    I was wondering if there was a specific brand of vitamin D supplement you recommended? I am a stay at home mom so my boys and I spend endless hours outside when the weather permits, but I’ve been trying to decide what type of vitamin D supplement we needed to take during the winter months. I heard that most Vit D supplements are bad and that you should only take excellent quality cod liver oil….thoughts??

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Not a fan of cod liver oil, but an oil-based D3 is likely the best choice (olive oil base, for instance).

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have read somewhere that if you’re going to take calcium supplements, that you must also take magnesium, otherwise the Vita D can actually be bad for you (taken by itself). I couldn’t tolerate magnesium supplements because they made me feel too drowsy, all day long, along with another annoying side-effect. So now I just take emulsified Vitamin D3 by itself but wonder if it’s actually bad since I am not pairing it with magnesium…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh, and here’s another one of my comments/questions on an older blog post that Robyn may not have seen or had the time to spare, which is completely understandable given the number of comments and questions she gets daily:

    Hi Robyn, I’ve long been convinced now that green smoothies can really turn people’s lives around with it’s being so easy to make and it’s palatability but at the same time, it seems contradicting when I read things such as that greens and even too much plant protein isn’t good for people with failing kidneys and the power of healing foods is very limited when it comes to kidneys. It was an article by Dr. McDougall on his website. I was wondering what your general thoughts were off the top of your head about his perspective?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Too much plant protein, Kyung? That would be hard to do. Even if you eat nuts and seeds, your protein would be about 10% eating a plant-based, whole-foods diet with reasonable variety. And the proteins from plants are just 18 different amino acids that the body uses as building blocks to assemble muscle, etc., whereas “perfect proteins” or animal flesh matches our own, nearly, and converts quickly to muscle mass, but breaks down more quickly. The power of healing foods is limited when it comes to kidneys…..??? No, the kidneys desperately need healing foods, and lots of fluids, to function optimally.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Great post! Just wondering, what is the reasoning behind not showering?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      You literally wash the Vitamin D off….the body must manufacture it from the substances left by the sun exposure, so not washing allows that. Kinda makes sense, right? Since throughout history people worked outside, so I can imagine God created a method that utilized a naturalistic lifestyle (agrarian economies were the norm until the past 100 years of history)…..

  7. Anonymous says:

    Great info. Thanks! I’m learning so much from you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think what you are doing is good and the way you are doing it is brilliant.Enjoyed the presentation today.

  9. Anonymous says:

    What happened to my comments?

  10. So how much sun exposure do we need each day on average?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      15-20 mins. mid-day should do it, as I understand it, if you’re getting sun on a regular basis, several times a week, throughout the sunny months.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good to know! What percentage of one’s skin needs to be exposed to the sun in order to start producing Vitamin D? I have heard differing opinions on this, just wanted to get your take on it. Thanks in advance!

  12. Anonymous says:

    I read somewhere on your blog about the website original fast foods site about how a free starter is offered for bread. I can’t seem to find where to request the starter. Can you help me? Maybe i could start my own starter instead? Any helpful hints? I am really interested in this whole soaking grains and making our own bread….my husband and I have two small children and hoping for more.

    Any helpful links to sites and book recommendations for doing this would be awesome!

    Blessings & thank you!


  13. Anonymous says:

    Robin, I had a melanoma removed 3 years ago and the dermatologist and other physicians have told me absolutely NO sun exposure due to the chance of melanoma recurrence. What are your thoughts on this?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Laura, I don’t know about that. I know that high Vitamin D level is THE most correlated factor to low cancer risk! Consult a knowledgeable, experienced holistic doc about this? One M.D. telling you something isn’t the final word, IMO.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for your article! I have NOT been very faithful taking my 50,000 IU prescription of Vitamin D, 3x’s a week. I never knew Vitamin D correlated with cancer risk. SCARY! I’m in the sun a bit but don’t know why my vitamin D has been really low for over 1 yr, of which I’ve been on vit D rx the whole time, but it’s still not enough. Maybe cuz I don’t take the pill like I should… 🙁 Any idea why my body wouldn’t store the vitamin D?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Not sure why but my comments are not being posted? Is there something wrong with this function?

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Robyn, it definitely feels overwhelming when there seems to be so many different perspectives from respected health professionals (such as Dr. McDougall on kidneys). I’m glad to know it would be difficult to “over dose” on plant protein and come to think of it, I probably get way too much protein, easily, from the chicken and beef I am eat almost everyday (which I am trying to decrease little by little). Thanks again.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. My oncologist said nearly ALL her cancer patients have severely low vitamin D. Mine was low as well. I have been hesitant to take synthetic supplements through my healing phase, so I have been sitting in the sun a minimum of 20 min. per day. I have been able to bring my level up to 35 which is on the low end of normal. Unfortuantely, I subjected my body to chemo, radiation and surgery, so that may have compromised my ability to bring the D level up more (naturally). I may add a supplement and see what happens.Thanks for all you do Robyn. I met you last year when you were in San Antonio. I have many friends drinking green smoothies 🙂

  18. Anonymous says:

    This might be a dumb question— does sunblock block Vit.D absorption ?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Toni, not a dumb question, and yes sunblock does block Vita D absorption.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, curious about your thoughts on sun exposure and melanoma. My doc says stay out of the sun, I disagree totally and believe it has more to do with my diet than sun exposure.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, did your grandmother who recovered from melanoma, continue to get sun exposure? If yes, did she limit it to early morning and just small amounts? Did she wear sunscreen? Just curious 🙂

  21. Anonymous says:

    Robyn, did you mean 5,000 to 10,000 IU of D3 per day in the winter months?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Wendy, yes.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Gosh, everybody. So easy. Stay out of the sun except for normal day to day coming and going. When you need to be exposed, wear sunscreen, big hats, good sun glasses, and resistant clothing. It’s so easy to take a D3 supplement. Cheap too, considering the alternative. Please take care.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I love this post! I take 5000 IU of liquid vitamin D everyday, the brand I use and love is Trace Minerals Research. Tastes great!

  24. Anonymous says:

    I prefer to stay away from animal products in all shapes and forms. It is my understnading that most D3 comes primarily from animal sources, but I’ve heard that it can be found in vegan format. Where do you get reliable vegan D3, and how do how do you know if a source is selling a reliable vegan D3 that will actually help, and not a substitute that will do no good?

  25. Anonymous says:

    Many times I have read stories about people who are taking Vitamin D that was prescribed to them by their PCP. They are taking huge doses once or twice a week due to a severe deficiency. Unfortunately, many physicians prescribe D2 instead of D3 – which is basically a waste of the patients time and money. Beware and check your Rx if you are taking Vitamin D (that was prescribed by your doctor) to see if you are taking D2 or D3. AS FOR WHAT BRAND??? – many people rave about Carlson’s but I’m not impressed with the list of ingredients on theirs. Check around and look at different brands – look over the list of ingredients very carefully – just my 2¢ worth. I brought my levels up from 32 to 54 using supplements.

  26. I was taking the dry form of Vit d 3 which did nothing to elevate my D level until I did my research I found Country Life Brand 5,000 IU has no additives

    a non fish source as Cholecalciferol and my D level is starting to rise, it does take quite some time to evevate to the level needed, I go in the sun but it is never enough to bring your level up to where it should be I don’t sell Country Life nor a spoke person do your research I did and found that Country Life so far is the best you want the product to be the VitaminD 3 at least 5000 IU soft gels Cholecalciferol – from lanolin

  27. Anonymous says:

    I truly believe that the correlation between vit. D is connected to cancer. My own personal belief was that my osteoporisis was connected to my breast cancer. I go to the Women’s Clinic in Alpine, Ut and they did a series of blood test on me and my vit. D was below normal. I was prescribed 10,000 IU for 6 months and will return to get tested again in December.

  28. Robyn,

    I appreciate you bringing to everyone’s attention to the lifesaving value of vitamin D. However, I do not agree with everything you stated. I am a registered dietitian and I have done several posts on my blog on vitamin D. Here is a link. Vitamin D does not wash out of our skin. It is made by the cells in our skin. Also, if people get adequate amounts of sun exposure during the spring and summer there is really no need to take supplements during the winter as it is stored in the liver. Depending on your skin type your skin can make adequate amounts in as little as 5 minutes. A wonderful book to read is by Dr. Holick, “The Vitamin D Solution.”

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Julie, I think the jury’s still out about that—some evidence seems to show that you can “tank up” for the winter, and others that it’s not enough and supplements are needed. It’s not that Vitamin D washes off—it’s that the natural chemicals are manufactured, through the skin, for a few hours after exposure, and it helps to not wash for a few hours.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’m lucky I live on Maui where there is plenty of free Vitamin D!

  30. Robyn, Thanks for all you do for women. This is not the right blog site, BUT I was on your hormone site and am confused about whether to buy a progesterone cream or not because I had a total hysterectomy at age 40. I took Premarin for 5 years and went off of it and don’t take anything for the last 12 years. Since I dont’ have ovaries that produce estrogen, would I be estrogen-dominant? Rosalyn

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      Rosalyn, a good practitioner and blood or saliva testing would be needed to answer that. 🙂

  31. Anonymous says:

    Your post should say 400 IU of D, not 400 mg

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