Vitamin D3 and Autophagy

Vitamin D3, a fat-soluble vitamin, is one of the most important micronutrients. I won’t describe all of its health benefits. But the effect on the body can be more like a hormone in how powerful it influences numerous physiological processes and systems.

Here is what I’ll emphasize for the moment, as an example of how to think about health in a more complex way. Unless you live near the equator and are near naked outside in the sun for most of the day, you are guaranteed to not be getting enough vitamin D3 through your body’s own production of it. The only other natural source is from animal foods. So, be sure to eat plenty of fatty animal foods from pasture-raised animals, especially organ meats, eggs, and dairy.

Let me throw out the issue of autophagy. Eating protein, as with eating carbs or really anything, shuts down autophagy. And we want some autophagy (i.e., cellular repair and regrowth) as it is essential to health and longevity. Some people blame protein for lack of autophagy, but that is nonsense. It is no more to blame than anything else. Sure, you should fast from protein on occasion. Then again, you should fast from everything on occasion. But fasting won’t give you the benefits of autophagy if you don’t have all that is required to make this possible. Guess which nutrient enhances autophagy? Yep, vitamin D3.

Someone severely restricting their protein consumption is unintentionally also restricting their vitamin D3 intake. They’ll have a harder time getting into full autophagy with all of its benefits. This is even more true for those, in avoiding fatty meats, eat a high-carb/low-fat diet instead. Not only are they not getting healthy amounts of vitamin D3 for they also aren’t regularly in ketosis. And one has to first be in ketosis before one can be in autophagy. On a high-fat ketogenic diet, all that it will take to get autophagy is a relatively shorter fast because the body is already fully primed for it.

It is true that eating protein shuts down autophagy in up-regulating what causes biological growth by way of mTOR and IFG1. That isn’t a bad thing. We want our bodies to grow, just as we also want our bodies to repair. The optimal condition is to cycle back and forth between these two states. Vitamin D3 from fatty animal foods is key for both, as it promotes bone growth and promotes autophagy, among much else. Don’t deny yourself. Enjoy those delicious fats from high quality sources. Feast until satiation and, to balance it out, fast on occasion.

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As a side note, deficiency in vitamin D3 is associated with such things as Alzheimer’s.

It makes me wonder if that is related to the role of vitamin D3 in autophagy. Alzheimer’s is accumulated damage involving (among other factors) insulin resistance and inflammation, both of which would relate to low-carb/high fat diets along with ketosis and autophagy.

But vitamin D3 out of balance can also be a problem, as it works closely with the fat-soluble vitamin A (as beta-carotene). Vitamins A and D3 form a fat-soluble trio with vitamin K2. You can learn more about this from Kate Rheaume-Bleue, although credit must be given to Weston A. Price.

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7 thoughts on “Vitamin D3 and Autophagy

  1. I guess I heard about D3’s importance some time ago, don’t remember where. I take almost daily a capsule containing 75 micrograms D3 ; 60 micrograms vitamin K2 (apparently important in assimiating the D3): 500 micrograms astaxanthin (a carotinoid) in coconut oil. Since I can’t do a controlled study on myself, I’ll assume it’s OK. I’m 82 and in good general health, other than creeping arthritis (“normal wear and tear”). I walk normally, just not rapidly for more than a few minutes.

    • I purposely didn’t mention supplementation. Anyone, even on the crappiest diet, can supplement. Nutrient-dense foods are most optimal because, specifically with animal foods, they are in the form the human body can absorb and use. But unfortunately, nutrient-density isn’t as available as it once was because of low quality foods that are cheaper and because farmland itself has become depleted. So, probably everyone should be supplementing these days.

      Pasture-raised animal foods do form the foundation of my diet (ghee is one of my favorites, something that can be added to almost anything). Plus, I take cod liver oil and krill oil for good measure. But I also take a balanced multivitamin to catch any other potential deficiencies. My multivitamin does have minimal levels of all the fat-soluble vitamins, including K2. The main other thing I’ve started to supplement in addition is MK7, a specific subtype of K2 that has a longer lasting effect because it remains in the body longer, compared to other subytpes that only remain for a few hours.

      As for your fat-soluble vitamin supplementation, it sounds like you have your bases covered. I’d only want to make sure you’re taking them with a fat source since they are called fat-soluble for a reason.

    • Just dropping back in for a perusal of old posts on diet, nutrition, and health. I wanted to note that I’ve become personally more reluctant to supplement nutrients like vitamin D3. It’s so easy to obtain from diet, simply by eating fatty animal foods, even from the lowest quality factory-farmed sources.

      Fat-soluble vitamins need fat to be absorbed, and it’s rather convenient that they are concentrated in animal fat. So, known or potential deficiencies can usually be resolved by simply cooking with animal fats, slathering food with butter, emphasizing fatty cuts of meat, including plenty of dairy, and eating eggs on a regular basis. This makes food more delicious and satiating as well. Those fatty animal foods will also provide all of the other fat-soluble vitamins, along dozens of other essential and semi-essential nutrients.

      Besides, most people probably don’t need to supplement vitamin D3, unless they have some serious health condition that is interfering with absorption, metabolism, transport, etc. Sometimes heavy dosing of specific nutrients can force a needed shift in the body in regaining healthy functioning. But, as long as people are unwilling to eat a healthy animal-based diet, I suppose supplementation will be required. That is what we get for more than a century of an anti-fat, anti-cholesterol, and anti-meat crusade.

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