Vitamin D - Your Daily Dose of Sunshine

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Vitamin D is well-known for the role it plays in the absorption and metabolism of calcium in the body. Lately people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of vitamin D. Vitamin D3 in supplementation form could be a well-needed addition to your life at any age. [1]

Vitamin D Explained

Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins. The two forms of vitamin D that most likely play a part in our health are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Ergocalciferol comes from a plant source while cholecalciferol is found in sources like cod liver oil and oily fish and it is also made in our skins. Vitamin D3 has superior biological actions when compared to vitamin D2. It is more potent in increasing blood levels of vitamin D and it is stored more effectively in the body.

The possible functions of vitamin D include maintaining skeletal bones and teeth, supporting growth, assisting muscle function and emerging research also suggests that vitamin D may have other “extra-skeletal” benefits for the body. It has been suggested that Vitamin D might play a role in the prevention and management of atherosclerosis which is one of the main contributors to Coronary Heart Disease and CHD is a dangerous cause of mortality in the world today.

Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread issue that is currently receiving increasing attention. It is widely suggested that vitamin D supplementation could be highly advantageous for the improvement of health, especially in groups who are at a higher risk for deficiencies of this vitamin. [2][3]

Sources of Vitamin D3

The most popular source of vitamin D3 is of course the sun. When our skins are exposed to direct sunlight, a certain reaction converts a form of cholesterol (pro-vitamin D3) in the skin into pre-vitamin D3. The temperature of the skin then furthermore converts pre-vitamin D3 to vitamin D3. However, the fact remains that excessive exposure to the sun could have some possible drawbacks for skin health. People are becoming more aware of the possible damaging effects that UV-rays can have on their health and therefore try to limit their exposure to sunlight. Another concern that may aggravate vitamin D deficiencies is the fact that the sun is either not always shining or not shining at a strong enough intensity to aid the process of vitamin D3 production. People living in certain countries have a profound disadvantage when it comes to sun exposure.

Luckily vitamin D can also be taken in through the diet and through supplements. Foods like fish oils, oily fish and egg yolks contain some vitamin D. Other foods like milk and cereals are also occasionally fortified with vitamin D. Supplements containing vitamin D3 are available to support the battle against deficiency. Such supplements may benefit anyone at any stage in their life.

Vitamin D3 and the Stages of Life

Vitamin D3 has many potential benefits during all stages of life. Its role in the maintenance of bones and teeth and muscle strength (through mineral metabolism) could benefit young and old.

Pre-natal and post-natal advantages

Vitamin D is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding for mother and child. Seeing as bone development of the child is quite rapid during both these stages a deficiency of vitamin D could hamper the whole process and this may be a cause of deformities, stunted growth, biochemical disturbances, a greater risk for bone fractures and even rickets. Sufficient maternal levels of vitamin D could possibly prevent such adversities and studies have even shown that adequate vitamin D levels may decrease the risk for type 1 diabetes. Furthermore sufficient levels of this vitamin could reduce the risk of the child for the development of certain mental disturbances later in life. [1]

Support during youth and adolescence

During these stages of life, the main function of vitamin D is to optimize bone mineral density. Dramatic increases in bone mineral density are normally seen at this stage in life and this is also the time during which bone development is at its greatest pace and bone development also comes to an end in early adolescence. Meaning that sufficient vitamin D levels could be extremely beneficial for the young and growing. Additionally, studies have suggested that vitamin D could be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis from an early age. [1][5]

Adulthood and Vitamin D

During adulthood it is very important to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D. The main risk factors for osteoporosis and related conditions are insufficient calcium intake, too little exercise, some dietary factors and lastly insufficient vitamin D. Therefore it is clear that vitamin D is most likely essential for keeping bone mineral density at an optimal level. Vitamin D is also necessary for maintaining and optimizing muscle strength during adulthood. [1]

Vitamin D and menopause

Calcium and vitamin D are commonly used by post-menopausal women. The combination may be beneficial for the prevention and management of osteoporosis that is prevalent amongst post-menopausal women.

Benefits for the elderly

Older people may have a disadvantage when it comes to the production of vitamin D by the body. They most likely spend much less time in the sun than young people do and furthermore their bodies produce less vitamin D from sun exposure. Osteoporosis and the accompanying bone fractures prevail among the elderly. Therefore there is an unmistakable need for vitamin D supplementation by older people. [1][2]

I’ve got sunshine

Imagine what vitamin D3 could mean for your health. No matter what your age vitamin D3 could bring some light into your life and some minerals into your bones.

  1. Grant WB, Holick MF. Benefits and requirements of vitamin D for optimal health: a review. Altern Med Rev. June 2005; 10(2): 94-111.
  2. Holick MF. High prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy and implications for health. Mayo Clin Proc. March 2006; vol. 81(3): 353–373.
  3. Heaney RP, Recker RR, Grote J, Horst RL, Armas LAG. Vitamin D3 is more potent than vitamin D2 in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. March 2011; vol. 96(3): E447–E45.
  4. Holick MF. Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. Am J Clin Nutr December 2004 vol. 80(6): 1678S-1688S.
  5. Sabatier JP, Guaydier-Souqui`eres G, Laroche D, Benmalek A, Fournier L,  Guillon-Metz F et al. Bone mineral acquisition during adolescence and early adulthood: A study in 574 healthy females 10–24 years of age. Osteoporosis International. March 1996; vol. 6(2): 141-148.

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