Vitamin D, Salt Sensitivity, and Morning Routines

Written by Youssef Merhi | Last updated:

A few weeks ago, I said that I started following Andrew Huberman’s morning routine to see how it would improve my health.

I wanted to test some easy changes to my morning routine while seeing how it lines up with what my genetics say I need.

Of course, I’m looking at it through Joe-tinted glasses.

Is this morning routine great for everyone? Is it better if you carry certain genes?

Here’s what I discovered.

Sunlight and Vitamin D

One of the first things Andrew Huberman tells you to do when you wake up is to get sunlight in your eyes for at least 10 minutes.

This is because it triggers the timed release of cortisol – a healthy level of cortisol – into your system, which acts as a wake-up signal and promotes wakefulness and the ability to focus throughout the day.

It also sets up the biological timer for the onset of melatonin, essentially optimizing your circadian rhythm.

But what are some other ways that your body utilizes the sun from the morning exposure?

This is where you can look at your VDR gene.

The VDR gene is responsible for producing a protein called the vitamin D receptor, which binds to the activated form of vitamin D.

They then form a special complex that has a lot of benefits, like regulating metabolic pathways involved in immune response, controlling cell growth and development, and regulating hair loss to name a few.

The negative “A” allele is associated with decreased VDR levels and activity.

This means that your body isn’t utilizing Vitamin D as efficiently as the major “G” variant, which has been associated with all the positive benefits of Vitamin D.

I carry one of each, so while my body is not a Vitamin D connoisseur, it does the job.


What this means is that I’m benefiting greatly from the added morning sunlight because my body needs a greater source of Vitamin D3 to get all these benefits.

For someone with the “GG” genotype, they probably wouldn’t need as much as me to reap the same benefits.

The fact that I know this really reinforces my motivation to continue following part of this routine, because I know my body needs it.

Salt Water and Salt Sensitivity

One of the key components of the morning routine is to have roughly half a teaspoon of salt with 500ml of water.

According to Huberman, this can have several benefits, particularly related to the nervous system and stress response.

Essentially, the salt water will help your body retain fluid more efficiently and can help manage the stress response.

But what if your genes make you extremely sensitive to salt?

The SCNN1G gene is like an instruction manual for making a part of a tiny channel in your kidneys called ENaC. This channel helps control how much salt your body keeps or gets rid of.

The negative variant of this gene holds on to more salt than needed, which can make you more sensitive to salt and increase your blood pressure relatively quickly.

If you look at my Salt Sensitivity Health Report, I have higher salt sensitivity due to my genetics.

Because of this, I stopped drinking salt water as part of my morning routine.

How A Personalized Approach Helps You

Following a personalized approach means shedding any dogmatic attitudes regarding diet, exercise, and supplements, and listening to your body.

It means taking back control of your health by being open to any and all insights you receive, but using your knowledge to make the right decisions.

As an amateur biohacker, SelfDecode helps me make these right decisions by analyzing my genetics to give me the best information that I need to take a step in the right direction.

Join me and start your own health journey by discovering what works best for your morning routine.


This week on SNPits

In this episode of SNPits, I go in-depth on Vitamin D and the VDR gene.

We discuss how your body uses the sunlight to produce Vitamin D3, and how the VDR gene takes advantage of the process (if you carry the good variant!)



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