Vitamin D is a big deal for our immunity especially during this COVID-19 crisis.
After attending a weekend class with Dr. Stasha Gominak, a neurologist from Texas who has done years of research and treated over 7,000 patients with Vitamin D3 and B, I quickly started testing vitamin D3 and B12 levels on patients in our practice. We tested the levels over 50 adults and children, the month before COVID-19 required us to stay home.
I was not surprised to see that the test results showed my patients were deficient in vitamin D3 with a level under 30 ng/ml and had a B12 level under 500 ng/ml. Dr. Gominak’s research shows that ideally our levels should be between 60-80 ng/ml of vitamin D3 and over 500 of B12. We each have our vitamin D “sweet spot,” so we need to find what level is right for us. At the end of this blog, I have added her website where one can find a workbook that can be purchased if one would like to use it as an assistant coach or let us know and we can help guide our patients in raising vitamin D3 levels.
I have noticed many physicians have provided medicine instead of working preventatively and looking for the origins of the problem. Over the past 2 years, I no longer wanted to provide bandaids for my patients. I began to focus my time on getting to the root of the problem and looked at whole body health. Research in the last decade has proven that much of our bodies inflammation, sleep, and heart issues are discovered in the mouth. Most physicians do not check the amount of vitamin D in your blood, and if they did decide to check your D levels they would order a total D blood test and not check the D3 level. We need our blood tested with a liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), which is a much more reliable and predictable test. In medical/dental school we were not taught the serious role vitamin D plays in our health.
My personal story has increased my passion about vitamin D because every time I had a blood test in the past 25 years, I would ask for them to check my vitamin D and every time they told me I had low vitamin D, but they never really worried about it. They would just tell me to take some vitamin D, as if it was not a big deal. No one ever checked to see if the level was normal again. I would just wait till a future blood test was needed and ask for it to be tested and again it would say my vitamin D was low. A few years ago, a physician gave me a RX for a green capsule of Vitamin D2 and I thought, “finally someone is going to track my vitamin D and I am going to get it where it needs to be.” At the time, I did not know that there was a difference between vitamin D3 (small gold capsules) and vitamin D2 (green capsules 1:50,000). The standard of care for low vitamin D, still recommends one D2 capsule a week, but research has proven this should not be the standard of care. The one piece that I was missing over the years was adding B50 initially to get my D levels higher. My kids and I have had a lifetime of stomach problems starting with my son’s colic as a baby. Sadly I passed my low D to my kids since I was pregnant with low D levels and their levels have also been low for years. Gominak and many other researchers have proven that only D3 matters and only D3 should be taken as a supplement, not D2. After her class, I had my vitamin D3 levels tested with the correct lab testing protocol. My total D was 60 ng/ml, my vitamin D levels would have been considered normal. I ignored the word “normal” and followed the protocol in her workbook. The results of my blood test showed a total D of 60 ng/ml. Although my total D was 60 ng/ml, it was factoring in my D2 level which was 45 ng/ml (since I was taking a Rx D2 green capsule, once a week), and the test revealed that my D3 was ONLY 15 ng/ml.
After the first month of her workbook protocol, I am happy to report that my D3 went from 15 ng/ml to 37 ng/ml in a month. I have noticed many changes in my health but one in particular happened super quick. About a week after I started to take her protocol I cut my hypothyroid medicine in half because I was feeling dizzy in the morning and it would last throughout the day. A month later, even with my medicine cut in half , my TSH blood test had never been so low, it went from an average of 2.5 to 1.3. My son’s D3 was 24 ng/ml and in a month his D3 was 47 ng/ml, also his TSH went from and average of 2.5 to .44. We are looking at both coming off of our thyroid medicine completely. The bottom line is when your D3 is working your body has what it needs to get healthy and does what it knows how to do, we need to have the right amount of vitamin D in our bodies to get our Thyroid working correctly.
Have you ever noticed that we tend to get fat in the winter? The bacteria that live in our intestines run that weight gain. They send out signals that make us hungry for certain kinds of foods in winter. When the D is high, we have bacteria that help us lose weight. When the D is low our bacteria make us gain weight. ( I am hoping that the D is what has made my metabolism so slow and the correct level D can help kick start my weight loss :))
I urge you to check your last blood test and see what the blood test number was for your vitamin D, ignore the word normal even if it is not flagged, check the actual number of your test. If it was below 40 ng/ml you need to read this information.
If you have EVEN ONE of the following diagnosis or symptoms; sleep apnea, sleep disordered breathing, snore, wake with fatigue, need coffee, daily headaches, don’t sleep as well as you would like, body aches ( like you feel old when you get up) have diabetes, autism, rest less legs, ADHD, grind your teeth, memory issues, brain fog, colitis, celiac, hypothyroid, insomnia, depression, autoimmune illness or cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure,……. you are MOST LIKELY deficient in vitamin D and possibly B12 as well.
Why are we worried about our level of Vitamin D now? Dr. Gominak graduated from medical school in the 1980’s before sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue ….. to name a few were recognized as an epidemic. She has never been a vitamin pusher but after noticing a lot of changes in patients and listening to her patients with sleep apnea describe their whole body symptoms she started to make the connection. She knew we get our vitamin D from the sun and realized that in the 1800s an entire population moved indoors for their entire lives to work in factories. They developed heart failure, non-healing ulcers, rickets, diabetes and renal failure. Now these diseases are also epidemic. In the 20th century, Americans dealt with the hot weather as many still do around the world: They sweated and fanned themselves. Later, in the United States, things started to change and in the late 1900s, the first electric fans appeared in homes and shortly after the population preferred the inside due to air-conditioning. Right around the same time TV was invented and everyone wanted to stay inside not to mention the addition of video games and computers. The population is not spending as much time as they use to outside. Also, due to the rise in skin cancer, few parents are sending their kids outside without lathering them up in suntan lotion. The medical community knows daily exercise is a component for good sleep, and we know that certain diets around the globe are extremely deficient in nutrients, but people can thrive because they live outdoors. We don’t see such a health epidemic in other countries. Scientists are pouring a lot of research on the topic of vitamin D to prove how important this chemical is for our whole body health.
Did you ever wonder why some days our hair is a mess and our covers are on the floor and other times it looks like we did not even sleep in our bed? Or why some people get up to use the bathroom and others stay asleep all night but never dream nor feel rested when they wake up? We are normally paralyzed in deep sleep. If we are moving a lot between 3 am and 6 am we are not getting normal REM sleep. Our bodies were designed to be able to be paralyzed in deep sleep so that we can’t cry out while sleeping or act out our dreams yet we need to still swallow and keep our airway open. This is where the vitamin D plays a large role because without the correct Vitamin D level the neurotransmitters that affect our sleep switches are not working correctly and some of us are not getting paralyzed enough and others are getting too paralyzed. When you are in deep sleep your mouth should be closed, your body should not be moving and your breathing should be silent. If our vitamin D3 is low our bodies are not able to get paralyzed correctly during deep sleep. There are certain cells that are assigned to paralyzing the oral airway: the throat and the tongue. Imagine a set of switches that makes our throat and tongue weak and paralyzed while we are sleeping, another set of cells responsible for paralyzing the diaphragm and the chest wall, and another set of cells responsible for paralyzing our limbs.
We are not able to get “perfectly paralyzed” if our switches are mis-firing instead of firing at the correct rate. Several missed nights of normal sleep cause many health issues that will take a long time to correct. It really depends how long you have not been getting deep sleep. The bottom line is that our bodies will not begin to “repair” in our sleep if our vitamin D is not at the correct level.
These switches need to fire at a perfect rate, so you’re perfectly paralyzed. So for example if you have obstructive apnea most likely the tongue/ throat get too paralyzed. Yes, it’s true that many of us have very small airways that cause sleep disordered breathing and eventually obstructive sleep apnea but that is just one piece of the puzzle. A large airway does not guarantee we will have great sleep and health. We need our vitamin D to be at an ideal level for us to get to the “perfect paralysis” our bodies need. Since the topic of this blog is not about small airways, I added a link below that explains why such a large percentage of the population has a small airway.
What does our mouth have to do with our sleep? A brief summary is necessary for me to explain the connection of a small airway with our sleep health. The shape of the upper part of the mouth and jaw are 95% determined by our lip position, our sleeping position, deep sleep, the correct swallow, and the tongues ability to send sensory messages to the brain. If we take away the tongue’s ability to do this because of an open mouth at any time during sleep, we end up with health issues and crooked teeth and a narrow palate, which affects the nasal airway since the roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose (narrow palate =narrow nose=narrow airway for breathing). If children are vitamin D/B deficient, they will get a runny nose, increased allergies, and they are not able to breathe through their nose. This will most definitely cause an unfavorable formation of their lower face over time, and their teeth will be crooked. If we see children with no space between their baby teeth or if we see children with crooked teeth, a deep bite or overbite and or a gummy smile, please understand this NEVER gets better. It does not miraculously correct itself. Watching it or waiting till they are older is not the answer, the earlier we fix the alignment of their teeth, the easier it is for them because their bone is still malleable. Research has proven that we only inherit 5% of crooked teeth genes. 95% of crooked teeth and small jaws is environmental not genetic, which means if we do not correct the habits that are causing negative alignment of their dentition at a young age the affect on their oral health will have a domino effect.
The short summary of the effects of small airways above explains that Vitamin D is NOT the cure for all sleep problems, but it is a large piece of the puzzle. For this blog, I want to get across the importance of knowing what our vitamin D3 level is and realize if we can prevent low vitamin D3 levels, we will prevent many illnesses from becoming a reality in our lives. It is important to understand once you have an illness the body needs to “repair” for a long time, so it is not a quick fix. You need to be patient and keep track of your symptoms along with your D3 levels and overtime you will repair if you are able to get into “Deep Sleep”. My hope is that each one of us will spread the word to help reduce this epidemic of low level Vitamin D3 that we are seeing in most adults and children during this twenty first century, it has greatly affected so many of our friends and family that are not feeling 100 percent.
When our vitamin D is very low, (<40 ng/ml) over time, our brain actually forgets how to sleep. We repair our bodies during deep sleep: when our D is low, instead of having both “light sleep” and “deep sleep” we spend the night in light sleep. We sleep but we don’t get any work done. We wake tired and age faster.
Chronic illness is related to lack of repair in sleep:
When we can’t repair our bodies every night we get sick.
Our pancreas fails; we get diabetes.
Our blood pressure system fails; we get high blood pressure.
Our immune system fails: we get auto-immune diseases, asthma, allergies, MS, rheumatoid arthritis………
Our heart and blood vessels don’t repair; we get heart disease and stroke. Our brain doesn’t repair: we get dementia.
Where does Vitamin B come into play? Once we replace vitamin D, the body slowly changes from a vitamin D deficient body to a B deficient body. After about 2 years of restoring vitamin D levels, and sleep normalization, patients manifest symptoms of MS. However, this is actually a vitamin B deficiency. We have a “symbiotic relationship’’ with our belly bacteria. In other words, we share and rely on each other. We give them our vitamin D and, in return they give us 8 chemicals called the B vitamins. I could not get my vitamin D to go up without starting the vitamin B regimen she outlines in her work book.
If you have a sleep problem you most likely have both vitamin D deficiency and the wrong belly bacteria! The B vitamins are crucial for normal sleep. When we lost our connection to the sun, we lost vitamin D and the B vitamins and we stopped sleeping normally. B12 deficiency and D deficiency are linked; B12 deficiency makes us tired because B12 is needed for normal sleep. If you’re B12 deficient (B12 < 500 pgm/L) it usually means that you’ve had D deficiency for a long time.
How do we check our D levels? If you feel your Vitamin D may be low we need to get a blood test which I know is impossible to go to a lab NOW but there is a way to do it from the comfort of your own home. I just ordered some vitamin D tests for my family because we were due for our next Vitamin D3 levels to be checked at https://daction.grassrootshealth.net/product/vitamin-d-home-test-kit/. I double checked with Dr. Gominak and this lab uses the correct testing of our D3 blood levels. The blood spot assay is performed using liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), the gold standard in 25(OH)D testing that Dr. Gominak recommends. Neither Dr. Gominak or myself have a vested interest in this company. The link above seems to be too good to be true for a blood test at home, although it is expensive at $65 a test, it really works and uses the correct lab protocol to give you an accurate result from your safe home.
Can we get vitamin D naturally from the Sun? It is ideal to get the D we need from the sun but in the winter it is often impossible to get the D we need so we need to supplement. The rule is that a light skinned person, wearing a bathing suit, will make about 15,000 IU of vitamin D in 15-20 minutes in July at midday. Darker-skinned individuals can do the same, but it will take twice as long. If you are worried about skin cancer they recommend the first 15 minutes without suntan lotion and you will get enough D for a healthy body once your D is at the level it should be for full body health.
Low Vitamin D3 levels effects mood, feelings of self, ability to pay attention. Everyone with a vitamin D deficiency who cannot sleep, cannot be fully educated. Current literature suggests that if you don’t sleep right, it is your fault. It is not your fault. Dr. Gominak would like to dispel some of the dogma surrounding sleep and she wants to educate clinicians to treat this.
Dr. Gominak advises us to get 4 vitamin D3 25OH levels performed in the first year.
Everyone on this regimen should keep a weekly or daily record of how they are feeling.
Slowly, over time we will be able to tell that your sleep is improving.
Eventually one will know when their vitamin D3 blood level is in range (60-80 ng/ml) and when it’s not. Our sleep won’t change much until the vitamin D level is 60-80 ng/ml. Please note that D3 levels above 80 ng/ml can cause terrible sleep too.
Isn’t too much sleep bad for us? When our D3 levels elevate our bodies will want to sleep more. We should not get discouraged if we’re sleepy during the day. We need to listen to our bodies and if it is asking for a nap, take a nap. We are making up for sleep we have lost. If our body will only sleep from 3:00 am to noon then that is when we will need to sleep. Slowly over time our sleep will get better and our internal clock will make us drowsy even earlier. Just be patient, sleeping at the “wrong’’ time is better than no sleep at all. Eventually we will start to feel drowsy at 10:00pm, once that happens don’t fight it. Most people in a healthy normal sleep cycle should get tired by 10 pm and wake up about 6/7 am fully rested without having woken once all night. This time at home is a perfect time to get the “right sleep”
With vitamins D and B ~ remember MORE IS NOT BETTER. JUST RIGHT IS BETTER and TOO MUCH Vitamin B and D, CAN HURT YOUR SLEEP.
Much of this content and information was taken from my class notes with Dr. Stasha Gominak and found on her website, https://drgominak.com/
Below I have attached a few podcasts with her speaking to an ENT physician Dr. Stephen Park, if you want to listen instead of read, I found them really helpful.
Stay Safe and Stay Well,
Lupita M. Roca, DDS