This is how I bio-hacked my Vitamin-D level and why you should do it too.
I burned out twice in two years and felt constantly exhausted, miserable and wilted. I visited multiple doctors in Cape Town who all did a variety of blood tests, but no one reported that any of my bio markers were deficient. Out of frustration and having listened to too many podcasts on bio-hacking, I took matters into my own hands. I went to Pathcare to get the results of the tests that those doctors did. The results? Oh my gosh. To this day, I still can’t grasp how none of those doctors picked up on my bio-markers being that low.
So, that’s how my journey into bio-hacking started - and it’s been a whole year already. I feel stronger, better, and so much healthier. And I hope to publish a series of blogposts on this topic.
WHAT IS VITAMIN D, AND WHY YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH OF IT.
Yes, Vitamin D the one you get from the sun. Correct!
So, Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that controls the expression of over a 1,000 genes in your body.
It’s primarily synthesised by skin after UVB radiation - but there are certain restrictions in our bodies that limit the amount of Vit D that we can produce and use:
Sunscreen blocks UVB radiation
Skin pigmentation - so the melanin content of your skin is a natural “sunscreen”
Age - the older we get the less efficient you become at producing Vit D. Ex: a 70-year old produces 4-times less Vit D than a 20-year old.
Body Fat: Body fat reduces the ability of your body to use Vit D. The fat in your body stores the Vit D, instead of releasing it into the bloodstream to be used.
So, what most people don’t know, is that you need to supplement our Vit D levels.
WHY IS VIT D IMPORTANT?
Vitamin D is vital in regulating the aging process and it has significant associations with key diseases
The screen above shows data compiled from a bunch of studies suggesting that relatively high levels of Vitamin D are protective against a number of diseases. It is very unlikely you will get to these levels without supplementing unless you are a lifeguard on a beach in Barcelona.
And, from an endurance sport performance point of view….
"Higher blood levels of vitamin D were associated with a 2.9-fold increase in cardiorespiratory fitness (VO2max). Each 10nmol/L increase in vitamin D in the blood was associated with a 0.78 mL/kg/min increase in VO2 max." (Source)
This study was published just last week :)
What is VO@max? Cardiorespiratory fitness, a reliable surrogate for physical fitness, is the ability of the heart and lungs to supply oxygen to the muscles during exercise. It is best measured as the maximal oxygen consumption during exercise, referred to as VO2 max. People with higher cardiorespiratory fitness are healthier and live longer.
WHAT IS THE OPTIMUM VIT D LEVEL?
According to Pathcare your Vit D should be higher than 30 ng/ml. That's quite vague. So I did some digging.
Dr Rhonda Patrick from FoundMyFitness did an entire podcast on Vitamin D. According to her, a normal person's Vitamin D is supposed to be in the range of 49 - 60 ng/ml.
Dr Peter Attia, a longevity specialist, thinks the optimal range of vitamin D is 40-60 ng/mL
*Both are much higher than the recommended Pathcare levels
So, with this knowledge crammed into my noggin, I marched into the Pathcare in Sea Point, opened my laptop and showed the lady my spreadsheet of tests I want to do. One of the tests was Vitamin D. She didn’t really understand what or why, and kept asking for my Dr’s recommendation. After some negotiation she reluctantly agreed. We signed the papers and walked to the testing room.
You can get your test results printed out from Pathcare, 24hours after your tests were done. So, I went back the next day. She was once again not happy to see me. Apparently 99.9999% of Pathcare patients don’t come back asking for their results. She printed my results. It was just short of 25 pages. Ha!
So, my Vitamin D reading on 24 July 2017 was…. 24.7 ng/ml !
*take a moment and scroll back up to the graph of illnesses I was susceptible to. That’s crazy. And, I’m a healthy person.
So, here are a couple of things you should know about me:
I spend a LOT of time being outdoors: on the beach, in the mountain.
I spent 3 months as a campaign manager for a running expedition from March - May 2017.
I always put sunscreen on my face.
I exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.
So, I immediately started some serious health-hacking.
Hack what you track
Track what you hack
Here are my subsequent Vitamin D levels:
Test 1: 24 July 2017: 24.7 ng/ml
Test 2: 11 August 2017: 28.8 ng/ml
Test 3: 17 November 2017: 51 ng/ml
One year later, and my Vit D remains above 50ng/ml :)
HERE IS WHAT I DID
Step 1: Take Vitamin D Supplement
How much? You need to take 1,000iu per day to raise your blood levels by 5ng/ml.
So, that meant that I had to take 7,000iu per day to get my 24ng/ml to 60ng/ml. Just to be safe, I decided to take 8,000iu per day.
Normal pills that you buy at Dischem are between 500iu and 1,000iu per tablet. Taking 10 Vit D tablets over and above my other 10 plus supplements is not my idea of fun.
Up until like June 2018 you were able to buy gel Vit D pills over the counter at a pharmacy that were 5,000iu each. Now, they changed the rules and you need a prescription to get ‘em. Urgh.
However….WellnessWarehouse still keeps ‘em. They’re behind the counter. So you need to specifically ask for them.
This is the one I use.
Step 2: Keep testing and keep taking the supplements
Supplements are expensive. Trust me - I know. So, instead of stopping your Vit D supplements all together - rather cycle them, 1 week on, 1 week off. Experiment what works for you.
Also keep testing your biomarkers. It’s quick and easy and doesn’t cost an arm or a leg.
At Pathcare the Vit D test will cost you R263.50.
I don't know the Lancet price - Cape Town only has Pathcare
You don't need a doctor's letter to go do the test
It’s been a game-changer for me.
I have more energy, my head is less foggy, and overall, I feel happier!