750 million years of vitamin D

750 million years of vitamin D

A little history - without hysteria

In the beginning there was fat.

750-500 million years ago, the "vitamin D" system evolved in organisms. Vitamin D3 is actually not a vitamin, but a secosteroid. Steroids are lipids, and they are often derived from the first of all steroids: Cholesterol, an essential basic building block of our cell walls. Well-known steroids include estrogen, testosterone, and cortisone, to name a few.

With the help of the "vitamin" D3, calcium could be utilized for the first time, and from then on, rigid skeletons became possible at all. Since then, virtually all animals use D3. Deep-sea fish take it in through their food, but ultimately it comes from the algae on which krill feed.

Later, some fish swimming closer to the water surface evolved to convert 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholecalciferol (D3) using high-energy UV (B) sunlight. When these creatures, our primordial ancestors, became land dwellers, it got to us.

The value that comes from the depths ...

Our liver then synthesizes calcefediol 25(OH)D3 from this cholecalciferol. The kidneys and many body cells convert the calcefediol into the active form, calcitriol, (1,25(OH)2D3).

Calcitriol is short-lived but important for the biochemical function of all cells with a vitamin D receptor (VDR) - and most of our cells have this receptor. The various forms are generally referred to simply as D3, but what is meant when talking about blood levels is always calcefediol (25(OH)D3.)

Without fur, it gets hairy...

The cradle of mankind is known to be in Africa, more precisely: in northern Tanzania. Our ancestors, the hominids, had amazingly light skin and above it a dark coat, just like chimpanzees, our genetically closest relatives, still have both today.

When there were fewer and fewer trees due to a climate change many millions of years ago, and thus the rainforest gradually became savannah, these hominids left the tree as their habitat, descended and developed the upright gait.

In the savannah, the upright gait was helpful. For one thing, it made it possible to peer over the tall grasses. For another, the upright gait not only proved to be much more effective than the quadrupedal gait, but bipedal walking even proved to be by far the most efficient way of locomotion.

The upright gait keeps the center of mass almost unchanged at the same height, which saves a lot of energy. Because of it, humans evolved into the best endurance runners under the sun. Over a distance of a hundred kilometers, humans can even triumph over horses.

This simplified the hunt immensely, for example when killing a gazelle, an animal with a flight reaction like the horse, but which has to digest constantly and therefore collapses after 2-3 hours of "running away" from the hunter trotting patiently behind it.

However, when you run, you have to be able to cool your body down with sweat much more than usual. So our species had to lose its fur. But this brought with it a considerable disadvantage: the light skin was unprotected in the blazing equatorial sun. This threatened sunburn and, above all, skin cancer.

Man survives because he sees himself black.

A pigment helps against these consequences, which in vertebrates, like us humans, is formed in corresponding cells in the skin, but also in the choroid and iris of the eye: Melanin (from the ancient Greek μέλας mélas "black").

Most likely at the same time as the loss of fur, humans developed more and more sweat glands, more and more melanocytes (pigment cells) that produced more and more melanin, and ultimately jet black skin.

Melanin blocks UV(A) radiation quite reliably to prevent the species from skin cancer, but it still lets through enough UV(B) to achieve a blood D3 level of about 46-50 ng/ml D3 if you live at the equator and also mostly outdoors.

Apparently this is considered sufficient by nature even in a highly infectious environment, because this is the value found in traditional hunter-gatherers (Hadza and Maasai) in northern Tanzania, the cradle of humanity, as with our cousins in the equatorial rainforest, the chimpanzees, who have a good 48 ng/ml in their natural environment despite the leafy canopy and fur, also because of the light skin under the fur.

And chimpanzees are known to bask in the sun by lying on their backs and presenting their less hairy bellies and inner thighs to the sunlight.
In zoos in the western world, they only have 24 ng/ml, even though they spend most of their time in outdoor enclosures, due to the high latitude with its lower sun angle, which allows much less UV(B) to reach the surface.

The 50 ng/ml is to be understood as a trade-off optimum of evolution, since with it about 95% of the people are well protected against severe infections like flu etc.

Against invincible viruses like Ebola and Marburg, Mother Nature had another, unfortunately cruel, but efficient defense: before the whole tribe died of it, the bush drum had already passed on that without any physical violence sudden deaths occured. This then led to the isolation of the group or tribe, which efficiently prevented the spread to other groups and stopped the virus.

The so-called vitamin D low responders, who are genetically disadvantaged in the processing of D3 (beyond and outside the two-sigma range of the bell curve), would have against the everyday infections, so flu & Co with much more D3, about 100-120 ng/ml an equally good protection as the "Normalos" (D3 becomes toxic only far, far above), but ...

Fat first

... so to save, say, 99% of the population instead of just 95%, evolution would have to maintain such a high level for all.

However, the production of vitamins and hormones is an energy-consuming task, so that evolution would have to refrain from storing every shred of unneeded energy in the form of fat. Because that's what it does. First of all. Because fat is essential for survival in times of food shortage ...

Famines caused by regular annual droughts were not only the most common cause of death back then. Even today, hunger causes many more deaths than all the diseases in the world. Therefore, our so-called "fat pads" are an evolutionary precaution against famines.

... and also the basis for the synthesis and storage of D3, which in turn protects humans - and even from a variety of risks. Thus, it is essential ...

Man is faster than evolution.

The problem is that humanity has interfered so much with both preventative measures over the last 100,000 years that obesity is now our most massive problem, even in poor societies in some cases, despite persistent starvation.

Chocolate instead of bland food

Evolution, unfortunately, has endowed us with an insatiable greed for the mixture of sugar and fat, an extremely nutritious combination that is absolutely rare in this form and practically only found in breast milk. But today, unfortunately, also in chocolate bars, which consist mainly of sugar and fat, and potato chips from fast carbohydrates and again fat, both together the No. 1 cause of diabetes-II.

The sugar causes the blood sugar level to rise far too quickly, triggering a massive release of insulin. Insulin now opens the fat cells to store the fat in them that is in the blood. Meanwhile, the energy-consuming muscles feed on the sugar instead of burning fat. The sugar level in the blood then drops again very quickly because of too much insulin, and the result is hypoglycemia, which triggers a hunger craving for more quick sugar. A vicious circle - and the beginning of obesity.

A long way leads further away ...

Instead of staying at the equator and dark-skinned, mankind has migrated - both further south and especially north, where the sun shines much less. So little, in fact, that as soon as the shadow is longer than a person high, i.e. at less than 45° angle of irradiation, no UV(B) at all reaches the earth's surface at sea level.

Thus, despite having white skin, we cannot synthesize D3 from the end of September to the end of March - and that even though we still tan a little. The reason for this is the long-wave UV(A) that still penetrates the atmosphere and causes tanning through the formation of melanin.

At high altitudes above 1,500 m, things are a little different, as the distance is shorter and the atmosphere is less dense than at sea level.
Perhaps you remember that in the past they used to send tuberculosis patients to Davos and treat them with long sunbaths in winter? Now you know the reason: D3 synthesis.

Mother Nature, of course, knew such times of sun deficiency too, but at the equator it was reserved for the clouds in the rainy seasons to effectively block UV(B). And for those few weeks, evolution provided us with a storehouse: Fat.

As already mentioned: fat binds cholecalciferol, the precursor, and also calcefediol, which is measured in the blood. But this store is not designed for six months of UV(B) deficiency, even if it were filled to the brim. And in the higher latitudes, unfortunately, this reservoir is not full even in summer.

Young people who sunbathe undressed for half an hour every day at noon in Berlin, Paris or London may reach 40 ng/ml at the end of August, but at the age of 70 they have only 1/3 - 1/4 of the synthesis capacity of a 25-year-old, for which the thinning subcutaneous fat layer of cholesterol, among other things, is partly responsible, along with other ageing processes.
Also, and this is another downside of such intense sunbathing, you can get white skin cancer from such high levels of unfiltered UV(A) light. This form of cancer is almost always UV(A)-induced - not to mention the wrinkles on your face.
As a "best ager", I know this because I had both: the just-as-faint 32 ng/ml after three months of excessive 2-3-hour sunbathing in the cloudless summer of 2016 - and later the basal cell carcinoma on my forehead.
So there is a real dilemma here. But it can be solved quite simply today.

The solution lies in the specialist trade.

In the meantime, humans have long since left the savannah and, in addition to the upright gait, have developed above all a "hunting instrument" that is unique in the entire animal world: the cerebrum. unique "hunting instrument" in the entire animal world: the cerebrum. And just as the upright gait helped to survey the vast expanses, the cerebrum helps to understand the large contexts in the smallest. From this developed perhaps the best weapon of mankind: research.

Not only do we have her to thank for the many insights into our evolution, physiology, biology, etc., but also for the knowledge of how we can increase potential, reduce deficits and ward off dangers.

In our specific case, this means that research has succeeded in developing better and also cheaper products and producing them: Vitamin D3 tablets for daily intake (5,000-10,000 IU) and, when we leave the house, sunscreen (factor 50).

On the one hand, these products shield us against skin cancer, making us just as well protected as our jet-black ancestors at the equator; on the other hand, they equip us immunologically just as well as they naturally were with their ~50 ng/ml.

Nutrition as a matter of skin

So how did we survive in the northern hemisphere with dark skin?

On the coasts:eat a lot of (cold-water) fish, which is why the indigenous people of the north (Inuit/Yuppik) get by practically without UV(B).
Inland:Meat (especially liver contains vitamin D) and also nutritious fat (the D3 store). But that only lasted as long as there were few humans. Today's population could not feed on free-ranging herds of mammoth or bison.
The skin that we nowadays call "white" only developed in the course of the last 5-10,000 years. Ötzi", the 5,300-year-old glacier mummy, would be perceived as a "person of colour".

Today people also try to avoid fatty meat, rarely eat beef liver, and cows are kept in stalls and fed corn instead of grass. That is why clever farmers feed them D3 up to a level of 70 ng/ml, so as not to endanger the offspring.

And calves raised without sunlight and fed pasteurized milk do not have more than 15 ng/ml, so farmers supplement them too.

Does your family doctor also give you D3? The difference may be that the farmer loses money if he does not keep his cattle as healthy as possible.
By the way: grazing cattle do not have a D3 problem, because D3 is contained in various grasses and plants in the meadow, which farmers even selectively sow. Classic stable cattle, however, have a D3 deficiency, because in the nowadays so popular fodder corn - as well as in our food* - there is almost no D3 present. - there is virtually no D3 present.
* An exception would be if you ate a large portion of cold water fish every day. However, this would be difficult to get in certain parts of the country and most of us would hardly be able to afford it in this quantity.
With the change of diet to agriculture, mankind lost its animal sources of D3. The development of lighter and lighter skin was a natural consequence. Unfortunately, by cruel selection....

D3? In our latitudes anything but 1A...

In spite of now light skin, in Europe we bob around with an annual average of below 20 ng/ml D3. In the infection-ridden winter, it is often only 12 ng/ml or even less, e.g. in retirement homes, where D3 levels of well below 10 ng/ml in winter are unfortunately not the exception but the rule. Generally, flu viruses feel very welcome at such low levels, whereas they hold back in summer when the average value rises to 23 ng/ml.

Whether there is a connection with the deaths during the Covid 19 pandemic, especially in winter and especially among seniors, is a question everyone can answer for themselves.
The same is true for flu, of course - and when the flu vaccines targeted the wrong viral lines in the winter of 2017/18, we had about 1/3 as many flu deaths in Germany as we did from Corona in the first Covid 19 winter (25,000 vs. 80,000).
In both cases, it could have been just a few thousand if everyone, especially the elderly, had been kept at a D3 level of 50 ng/ml instead of the meager level of 20 ng/ml - a level that a farmer would never accept in his livestock - but which the medical profession in large majority considered and still considers sufficient even for vulnerable humans.

The seasonal effect, i.e. those fluctuations between the highs and lows of influenza are the same worldwide, i.e.: in the southern hemisphere the waves are exactly the opposite of ours - and halfway to the equator, e.g. in North Africa, only half as strong as in England. Consequently, these regular variations do not exist at the equator. The only peaks of flu there show up only in the rainy season.

Better values in harmony with nature

The natural level of 50 ng/ml would also - in combination with modern medicine as well as co-factors such as vitamin K2, vitamin C, A and E, zinc, selenium, magnesium and iodine (which should also be supplemented) - save us from 50% to over 80% of many, many other diseases that plague mankind.

Several of these we refer to as "autoimmune diseases", which are caused by long-lasting, so-called "silent" inflammation and are associated with elevated levels of inflammatory markers (e.g. CRP), such as diabetes I (and II), rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and all types of cancer such as colon, prostate and breast cancer, also lupus erythematosus, allergies, migraine and cluster headaches as well as athero/arteriosclerosis leading to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

And, as I said, good D3 levels can also save us from the severe courses and deaths of corona infections.

The PISA-smart Finns, for example, fortify foods with D3 and between 2005 and 2020 more than doubled the population's calcefediol level from 18 ng/ml - which is about our average today - to 38 ng/ml. Finland has the lowest levels of all Western European countries, after Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands (all of which consume a lot of fish).

And the difference is dramatic: 600 covid deaths per 1 million inhabitants, while, for example, France, England and Belgium record well over 2,000, Poland even over 3,000.

If you don't think it has anything to do with D3, take a look at these studies, for example:

A Basic Review of the Preliminary Evidence that COVID-19 Risk and Severity is Increased in Vitamin D Deficiency (https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00513/full)


COVID-19 mortality risk is inversely correlated with vitamin D3 status, and a near-zero mortality rate could theoretically be achieved at 50 ng/mL 25(OH)D3

(Nutrients 2021, 13(10), 3596; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13103596)

Even more studies, even more on D3 as well as other essential supplements can be found in my book: "Self-Tested Nutritional Supplements" (https://www.genialokal.de/Produkt/Lorenz-Borsche/Nahrungsergaenzung-im-Selbstversuch_lid_44110839.html)

In it you will also find information with the help of which they can best protect themselves. It provides you with plenty of ammunition for your most powerful weapon, your cerebrum. Just make use of it. You usually do.

I wish you still have plenty of history - all without hysteria. Or in one word:

Good Health.

Lorenz Borsche, April 2022