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Vitamin D & TCM: What’s the connection?

Vitamin D might just be the most important vitamin for your health. For decades, most people have known that vitamin D is crucial for healthy bone formation and calcium absorption.

More recently, vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to several negative outcomes, including chronic fatigue; autoimmune disease; high blood pressure; muscle weakness and digestive disorders.

The higher your serum levels of vitamin D is, the lower your risk of cancer.

In fact, of 63 observational studies of vitamin D status in relation to cancer risk, a majority of studies found a protective relationship between sufficient vitamin D status and lower risk of cancer. (1)

There’s also increasing evidence that vitamin D insufficiency can lead to depression. (2)

TCM And Vitamin D: What’s the Connection?

So what does ancient Chinese medicine have to say about “the sunshine vitamin?”


Sorry, it’s kind of a trick question.

Qi pertains just as much to how the heavens work as does our internal organs

You see, in ancient Chinese medicine (or traditional Chinese medicine; TCM), there was no mention of specific vitamins and minerals.

However, TCM has plenty to say about the connection between people and the universe.

In fact, Qi pertains just as much to how the heavens work as does our internal organs.

There is no mention in classic Chinese medicine texts about vitamin D or how it’s synthesized in the human body. But there is plenty of theory that describes how our health depends on our interaction with the heavenly bodies.

To an ancient Chinese medicine healer, the sun provides the body not with vitamin D, but Qi.

The sun nourishes our Kidney Yang, which gives our body warmth and helps keep the organs and tissues functioning properly.

And when you don’t get enough sun, one reason you might feel cold much of the time and appear pale is that you’re lacking Yang Qi to warm your inner core.

When Sunshine Isn’t Enough

In the summer, it’s very easy to get enough vitamin D. Just expose some skin to sunlight without sunscreen for a little while.

But for some people, even spending time outdoors isn’t a guarantee of having adequate serum levels of active vitamin D3.

The synthesis of vitamin D requires harmony of your organs. Especially, the paired TCM organ systems of Liver and Kidneys. They play a key role in activating vitamin D.

Unfortunately, because of chronic stress and poor diet, people have underperforming Liver and Kidneys.

Consequently, somebody with poor Kidney/Liver function may very well have suboptimal levels of serum D3.

Boosting Serum Vitamin D3 By Nourishing Yang


Can Chinese medicine solve vitamin D deficiency?

Yes. And to do so, let’s look at the most obvious symptom of inadequate vitamin D synthesis: bone malformation.

According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, the Kidney organ system dominates the bone.

Without doubt, the only way to know for sure if you’re deficient in vitamin D is to have a blood test.

However, if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms such as feeling weak and cold much of the time, there’s a good chance you have vitamin D insufficiency.

Formulas that tonify the Kidney can help. Our formula, YanVive, is referenced in China Pharmacopoeia for Yang insufficiency of Kidney.

Herbal Support For Healthy Bones

Bone Vigor™

Our formula Bone Vigor may support bone mass density. The namesake herb of the formula, Bu Gu Zhi, tonifies the kidneys, strengthens Yang energy, and reserves the essence.

Bones are governed by the Kidney organ system, in TCM. Moreover, Kidneys are the primary source of life essence and of Yin and Yang energy. Strong Kidney function provides ample nutrients, which promotes robust formation of bones. But when Kidney function is weakened, bone loss outpaces bone formation.

Are You Getting Enough Heavenly Qi?

Getting enough vitamin D is tricky.

It’s hard to get enough of it from diet alone.

The other obvious choice is getting it from sunlight exposure. However, UV rays from the sun can cause skin problems and even skin cancer.

On the flip side, most people are deficient in vitamin D simply because they don’t spend enough time outdoors.

And in wintertime, the UV index is low. Unless you live in a warm climate, there’s not enough UVB light that converts cholesterol into the building blocks for Vitamin D.

The lesson here for optimal health is to get outdoors and expose some skin to sunlight before applying sunscreen.

And if you live in a colder climate in the winter, you may want to think about taking a vitamin D supplement.

From a TCM perspective, you’ll also want to tonify your Liver and Kidney organ system to activate vitamin D in your body.


1: American Journal of Public HealthThe Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention

2: Journal of Affective DisordersVitamin D and Depression