Holistic Health – Nutrients A to Z: Vitamin D
Vitamin D or sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin” is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, it is added to other foods through fortification, and is available as a dietary supplement. It is called the sunshine vitamin because it is produced when ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the skin which triggers vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D is biologically inert and must undergo two transformations in the body for activation. The first occurs in the liver. The second occurs in the kidneys. It helps the body fight infection, promotes weight loss, reduces depression and some studies show it has relevance in combating certain types of cancer.
Here are three major benefits of vitamin D:
Vitamin D fights disease
In addition to its primary benefits, research suggests that vitamin D may also play a role in reducing your risk of multiple sclerosis and your chance of developing heart disease. It can also help you reduce your likelihood of developing the flu, something that everyone needs a little extra help with this time of the year.
Vitamin D boosts weight loss
Consider adding vitamin D supplements to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. Studies have shown that people taking a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement were able to lose more weight than subjects taking a placebo supplement as the extra calcium and vitamin D had an appetite-suppressing effect. Studies have also shown that overweight people who took a daily vitamin D supplement improved their heart disease risk markers.
Vitamin D reduces depression
Research has also shown that vitamin D might play an important role in regulating mood and warding off depression. Studies have found that people with depression who received vitamin D supplements noticed an improvement in their symptoms.
In addition to helping the body fight infection, promoting weight loss and reducing depression, so some studies
have shown it has relevance in combating certain types of cancer.
People living in higher latitudes like northern US, Canada and Europe, for example, do not get enough natural vitamin D from the sun in the fall and winter months.
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling.
Vitamin D3, together with vitamin K2 ensure that calcium is absorbed easily and reaches the bone mass, while preventing arterial calcification which helps keep your heart and bones healthy.
There are two forms of supplemental vitamin D: vitamin D2 (pre-vitamin D) and vitamin D3 (which is biochemically identical to that which is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight).
Without enough vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.
Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include:
- Burning in mouth and throat
- Poor bone development
- Abnormal number of dental cavities, cracking teeth
- Osteoporosis (demineralized bone)
- Osteomalacia (softening of bone)
- Rickets (bowlegs or knock-knees)
- Joint pain, bone pain
- Muscular cramps
- Nearsightedness, myopia
Sources of vitamin D include sunlight, cod liver oil, egg yolks, liver, herring, sardines, salmon, tuna, and organ meats.
Recommendations for supplementation vary widely from 400 – 2000 IU/day and much higher.
by Janice Buckler