What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a group of secosteroids that are responsible for increasing the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and phosphate in the intestines as well as many other biological effects. These secosteroids are fat-soluble and the most important compounds to consider are vitamin d2 and d3. When one’s skin is exposed to the sun it makes vitamin d from cholesterol. The sun’s ultraviolet (UBV) rays hit cholesterol in the skin cells, providing the energy for vitamin d synthesis to occur. For this reason, vitamin d is often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin.”
The Role Of Vitamin D
The main biological function of vitamin D is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is also useful in the absorption of calcium because it helps to form and maintain strong bones. Studies show that Vitamin D triggers the body’s immune cells to produce antibodies which promotes an overall increase in the strength of the immune system. Results from some studies report that vitamin D assists in the maintenance of joint and muscle comfort, as well as the maintenance of a healthy mood.
Although many of us obtain adequate amounts of vitamin D through exposure to sunlight and dietary sources, some people may be at a greater risk for deficiencies, especially during the winter months. In the UK and Ireland, it is recommended to supplement between the months of November and March as sunlight is particularly low throughout these months.
Bioavailability of Vitamin D
The two main ways to get Vitamin D are by exposing one’s skin to sunlight (ultraviolet b rays) and by taking a good vitamin d supplement. It is very difficult to obtain the vitamin from food because it can only be found in a handful of food groups which often leads to deficiency in many individuals. These foods include egg yolk, beef liver, and fatty fish.
The Benefits of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D has received worldwide attention not only for its importance for bone health in individuals but also for reducing risk for many chronic diseases including autoimmune diseases, type 2 diabetes which is an ever-growing problem globally, heart disease, many cancers, and infectious diseases.
Dangers of Vitamin D Deficiency:
Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem. There are two forms of vitamin D. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D status depends on the production of vitamin D 3 in the skin under the influence of ultraviolet radiation from the sun and vitamin D intake through diet or vitamin D supplements. Usually, up to 90% of vitamin D is produced by sunshine exposure of skin and the remainder comes from the food we consume. Vitamin D3 deficiency can result in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.
Dangers of Overconsumption:
Vitamin D toxicity, also called hypervitaminosis D, although rare, can be a potentially serious condition that occurs when you have excessive amounts of vitamin D in your body. Vitamin D toxicity is usually caused by megadoses of vitamin D supplements and not by diet or sun exposure. This is explained by the fact that your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced by sun exposure and fortified foods usually do not contain large amounts of vitamin D.
The main issue with having too much vitamin D in your body is the building of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and a constant need to urinate. Symptoms might progress to bone pain and kidney problems, such as the formation of calcium stones (Kidney stones).
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 600 IU of vitamin D a day. Doses higher than the RDA are sometimes used to treat medical problems such as vitamin D deficiency, but these are given only under the care of a doctor for a specified time frame.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for many health reasons including absorption of calcium, it is showing deficiency globally and the dangers of this include obesity, diabetes, etc. I would highly recommend taking a vitamin d supplement, especially during the winter months.