Load Up On Vitamin D!
Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure; it can also be consumed in food or supplements. Having enough vitamin D is important for a number of reasons, including maintaining healthy bones and teeth; it may also protect against a range of conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D has multiple roles in the body, helping to:
- Maintain the health of bones and teeth.
- Support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system.
- Regulate insulin levels and aid diabetes management.
- Support lung function and cardiovascular health.
- Influence the expression of genes involved in cancer development.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin. Despite the name, vitamin D is considered a pro-hormone and not actually a vitamin. Vitamins are nutrients that cannot be created by the body and therefore must be taken in through our diet. However, vitamin D can be synthesized by our body when sunlight hits our skin. It is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows most people to produce sufficient vitamin D, but vitamin D breaks down quite quickly, meaning that stores can run low, especially in winter.
Vitamin D deficiency
Although the body can create vitamin D, there are many reasons deficiency can occur. For instance, darker skin color and the use of sunscreen reduce the body’s ability to absorb the ultraviolet radiation B (UVB) rays from the sun needed to produce vitamin D. Sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 30 can reduce the body’s ability to synthesize the vitamin by 95 percent. To start vitamin D production, the skin has to be directly exposed to sunlight, not covered by clothing. Although vitamin D supplements are can be taken, it is best to obtain any vitamin or mineral through natural sources wherever possible.
Health benefits of vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a substantial role in the regulation of calcium and maintenance of phosphorus levels in the blood, two factors that are extremely important for maintaining healthy bones. We need vitamin D to absorb calcium in the intestines and to reclaim calcium that would otherwise be excreted through the kidneys. Vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, a disease characterized by a severely bow-legged appearance due to softening of the bones. Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. It is best to get your required Vitamin D from natural sources. It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on one individual nutrient as the key to good health.