Vitamin D: Sometimes a Healthy Diet and Sunshine Isn’t Enough

Being aware of your specific genes can help you make more informed decisions about the foods and exercises that are right (or wrong!) for your body—all of which can help prevent health problems later down the road.*

Written by: Jamie December 12, 2019

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Surprisingly, an estimated one billion people worldwide are low in vitamin D. A vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of viral infections and autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowl and Crohn’s disease for example,.[1,2] Additionally, bone problems like rickets or osteoporosis can occur.

Who is at risk for a Vitamin D deficiency?

Many people are at risk for low vitamin D, for instance:

  • Dark skinned individuals
  • The elderly
  • Being overweight or obese as a result of a body mass index of 30 or greater
  • Vegetarians and people that don’t eat much fatty fish or dairy
  • If you stay indoors or live in an area where you don’t get much sun
  • If you always use sunscreen when going out

How do I get Vitamin D?

As you probably know, your body makes vitamin D from sunlight exposure.

The foods below are also good sources of vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish: tuna, mackerel, sardines, and salmon
  • Foods fortified with vitamin D, like some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals
  • Beef liver
  • Cheese
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms grown in the sun

What are the symptoms of low Vitamin D?

  • Getting viruses like the cold or flu often
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Depression- low vitamin D has been linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD)[3]
  • Slow wound healing
  • Bone or hair loss

How do genes play a role?

The genes CYP2R1 and GC are the most studied for their influence of vitamin D levels.

  • The A variant of the rs12794714 genotype is believed to reduce your body’s ability to create vitamin D.
    • Blood serum levels can decrease by 1.8ng/mL as a result of each copy of the A variant.[4]
  • Similarly, the A variant of the rs2060793 genotype is also believed to reduce your body’s ability to create vitamin D.
    •  Consequently, D serum levels can decrease with each copy of the A variant.[5]
  • On the other hand, the GC gene helps vitamin D move through the body and organs.
    • The T variant of the genotype rs7041 therefore, can lower vitamin D levels. [6]
    • The C variant of the rs2282679 genotype can also lower vitamin D levels.[7]

What can you do about it?

  • Above all, review your genetic predispositions. If you have not done testing, test your genes with Secret Sequence!
  • Ask your doctor for a 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test to help monitor your levels.
    • Levels below 20 ng/ml are considered deficient and less than 30 ng/ml is low. Individuals with levels between 30-60 ng/ml are in healthy range.[8]
  • Eat foods high in vitamin D to get your recommended daily amounts.
  • If you have certain risk factors like being a vegetarian, are elderly, or have certain genes, it is particularly important to mindful of your D levels.
  • Be aware of the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and talk to your doctor if you have any concernsand remember to discuss if you have genes that can affect your levels!

What comes next?

New research on the topic is being done all the time. You have the ability to learn more about your DNA, so why wouldn’t you want to learn what changes can make you a healthier you?

One more important reminder: you need to be in control of who you share that information with. Secret Sequence will never sell your data—we never even ask for your name! Safely learn more about yourself and your health: order our Nutrition report today to learn more about your body’s vitamin responses!

*Disclaimer: All information, content, and material of this website is for information purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.


[1] Beard, J. A., Bearden, A., & Striker, R. (2011). Vitamin D and the anti-viral state. Journal of clinical virology : the official publication of the Pan American Society for Clinical Virology50(3), 194–200. doi:10.1016/j.jcv.2010.12.006

[2] Del Pinto, R., Pietropaoli, D., Chandar, A. K., Ferri, C., & Cominelli, F. (2015). Association Between Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Vitamin D Deficiency: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Inflammatory bowel diseases21(11), 2708–2717. doi:10.1097/MIB.0000000000000546

[3] Penckofer, S., Kouba, J., Byrn, M., & Estwing Ferrans, C. (2010). Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues in mental health nursing31(6), 385–393. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657

[4] O’Brien, K. M., Sandler, D. P., Shi, M., Harmon, Q. E., Taylor, J. A., & Weinberg, C. R. (2018). Genome-Wide Association Study of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D in US Women. Frontiers in genetics9, 67. doi:10.3389/fgene.2018.00067




[8] Michael F. Holick, Neil C. Binkley, Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, Catherine M. Gordon, David A. Hanley, Robert P. Heaney, M. Hassan Murad, Connie M. Weaver, Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 96, Issue 7, 1 July 2011, Pages 1911–1930,