“Food is medicine.” – Randy Jirtle
Vitamin D3 is naturally made in our skin by exposure to sunshine. The practice of prescribing vitamin D2 should be stopped.
Into the new understanding of epigenetics, troubled by the ever menacing difference in the two primary types of vitamin D, leaves me somewhat in a state of great questioning. The confusion over nomenclature of vitamin D is troubling but not as troubling as the confusion of what vitamin D does in the body. As you most likely know, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 have long been considered as equals in the world of biological research, more importantly for you, in the practice of medicine. These two compounds were treated as equals basically because they were considered to have an equal effect on stopping rickets and the ability to ‘move calcium.’ Rickets, a bone disease, was the first disease that was identified as a result of vitamin D deficiency. This was the most important function identified and the only important function of our connection to the sun that was considered by medicine. Things then got spicier as it was discovered in the sixties and seventies the importance of calcium signaling in biological processes. The importance of this signaling included calcium gates opening to allow calcium into the cell to start the RNA/DNA cellular processes, but also important neurological functioning as the opening of a calcium gate on the end of a neuron results in the release of neurotransmitters.
In the last five years, the spice has become an exotic blend of calcium signaling and the control of our genome by vitamin D. Vitamin D has now been recognized as an important ‘switch’ for the action of our genes. The way to think about this epigenetic action is to consider our genes as the hardware of a computer and the epigenetic switches as the software. It has been discovered that there are over 2700 genes, about ten percent of the total genome, with vitamin D ‘pathways’. There have been over 200 genes that are directly related to chronic disease that are controlled by vitamin D. So the question that brings confusion is what happens when we substitute a compound with an extra methyl group for one that occurs naturally in our body as an important ‘switch.’
Here is the troubling factor. Randy Jirtle has discovered at Duke University that methyl donors have significant impact on whether genes are activated in our biology. He calls this epigenetic action methylation of genes. He shows that methylation will blind receptor sites on the genes to have an effect on cellular differentiation. The troubling part about vitamin D2; it has one more methyl group and an extra double bond than vitamin D3. So the question then becomes, does vitamin D2 act as a methyl donor to impact the epigenetic action of vitamin D?
This question of biological action of D2 versus D3 needs to be answered. Until this question is answered, we should stop the practice of treating vitamin D2 as equal of vitamin D3. This includes specifically that vitamin D2 should no longer be allowed as a prescription drug or as an additive to food products. The IOM has already raised the alarm by stating that our 25(OH)D level should be no higher than 50ng/ml as a higher level may increase the opportunity for disease. I believe this finding is directly related to the lack of separation in published papers about the difference in D2 and D3 biological results. There was no problem with toxicity in the 1930’s until vitamin D2 was introduced into the research. After vitamin D2 was introduced, the reports of toxicity started coming every month.
As a consumer of medicine, your response should be to not consume or take any prescription of vitamin D that is not vitamin D3. In other words, vitamin D3 will make you feel great and heal disease; vitamin D2 may make you feel awful and even cause disease. – Pandemic Survivor