Vitamin D: Think Outside the Tupperware


All your vitamins don’t necessarily come from a balanced meal plan

From Fitness Trainer January/February

Sometimes in life we get surprised when we least expect it. About a year ago, I went in for a physical. The doctor was going over my results and told me everything was fine … except for one thing— my Vitamin D levels. They were extremely low. This surprised me, as I am meticulous in my eating regimen.

It raised the question, “what was I doing wrong in my health and fitness program that caused this deficiency?” Upon further discussion with my doctor, he informed that most people are severely deficient and don’t even know it! This really got me interested.

How did the population become so deficient in Vitamin D3?

Well, it turns out that it may not entirely be the result of what we’re meal prepping, as the vitamin isn’t naturally present in many foods. Studies actually show that the most common reason for Vitamin D3 deficiency is lack of exposure to natural sunlight.


When I was a child in the 1950’s, my activities were centered in being outside playing sports in the open air and getting some sun. I was always warned don’t abuse the sun, but don’t fear it either.

The big change happened in the early 1990’s. The same suntan lotion companies’ that sold suntan lotion that helped burn your skin, changed its marketing strategy. Research had shown that excessive sun exposure over time caused skin cancer. Dermatologists were lobbed heavily, as well as the general public, the following message was sent: Any exposure to the sun was harmful. The rise of a plethora of sunscreen products became part of a person’s daily routine. The public heed this advice, and the amount of  sun exposure dropped dramatically. I will be the first to warn anyone of excessive sun exposure. But to avoid sun completely is a mistake, as sun exposure in moderation has a multitude of health benefits.

Understanding Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is in the category that’s classified as fat-soluble vitamins. Also in this group are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in organic solvents whereas the B vitamins and vitamin C dissolve in water.

Before we can reap the benefits, and risks, of this vitamin it must first undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation.

  1. In the liver converting to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH) D], also known as calcidiol.
  2. In the kidney converting to the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also known as calcitriol.

How much Sun is needed to produce Vitamin D3?

This can vary greatly and depends on what area you live in.

The closer you live to the equator the easier it is to synthesize vitamin D3. If you live in northern latitudes UVB rays are weaker, so less vitamin D3 is produced. For example, if you’re in a cold climate and wear clothing that covers most of your skin this could lead to a deficiency.

Skin type is very important to how you synthesize vitamin D3. A good benchmark is to have the arms and legs exposed or the trunk area. In the midday sun, get a total of 12-15 minutes. This produces about 10,000 International Units of D3. While excessive

sun exposure doesn’t lead to vitamin D toxicity, at no time allow yourself to experience your skin getting pink or sunburned. It’s important to remember that the Sun exposure creation of vitamin D3 is being stored in your body, and will be used when needed. Toxicity is much more likely to occur from high intakes of dietary supplements containing vitamin D.

Instead of giving out specific dosages, I strongly urge my clients to get a blood test. Your doctor, based on this test, can then recommend the specific amount of D3 you will need in supplement form.

Get Out and Workout

Sure it may be cold out there this time of year, but the sun’s still shining. With a quick bundle up, you can easefully sweat your way through this HIIT outdoor circuit. Feel free to perform on its own or tack onto the end of a run.


Bulgarian Split Squat

Recommended 12 reps for 2-3 sets


Triceps Dips

Recommended 12 reps for 2-3 sets



Lateral Box Hop

Recommended 12 reps for 2-3 sets


Jump Squats

Recommended 12 reps for 2-3 sets


High Knees

Recommended 12 reps for 2-3 sets


Cooldown Stretches

Recommended 12 reps for 2-3 sets



You can suggest to clients the sensible guideline’s I have recommended. When I started my own Sun Therapy program, I noticed many positive changes in my mental state, overall health, and an even better feeling of well being.



Don Cestone

Has been involved in health, fitness and bodybuilding for more than four decades. In his twenties Don launched one of the first one-on-one personal training businesses in Los Angeles. He authored and produced several training manuals as well as an audiotape series called a New Tone with Cestone. These manuals and tapes were a distillation of Don’s training, nutritional, and motivation principles.

For more information, email
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