Jan 4th 2019
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is produced by the body as a response to sun exposure. It can also be found in food and supplements. Vitamin D is not a vitamin, but a pro-hormone. Vitamins are not created by the body and must be consumed. In contrast, vitamin D is synthesized in our body when sunlight hits our skin.
Getting vitamin D though sun exposure is unreliable due the many variables such as skin color, regional sun variations, length of sun exposure, time of day, and more. That may be why studies have shown that a high percentage of the population is vitamin D deficient.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
1) Vitamin D for healthy bones - 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.
Vitamin D deficiency in children can soften of the bones and cause rickets, a disease characterized by a severely bow-legged appearance.
In adults, vitamin D deficiency commonly manifests as osteoporosis, the most common bone disease among post-menopausal women and older men.
2) Reduced risk of flu - In one study, increasing Vitamin D intake in winter reduced the risk of Influenza by over 40%.
3) Diabetes - Studies have shown an inverse relationship between vitamin D levels and risk of diabetes. Insufficient vitamin D levels may negatively effect insulin secretion and glucose tolerance.
4) Healthy Children - Low vitamin D status has been associated with a higher risk and severity of atopic childhood diseases and allergic diseases, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, and eczema. Vitamin D may enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids, making it potentially useful as a supportive therapy for people with steroid-resistant asthma.
5) Cancer - Vitamin D is extremely important for regulating cell growth and for cell-to-cell communication. Some studies have suggested that calcitriol (the hormonally active form of vitamin D) can reduce cancer progression by slowing the growth and development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissue, increasing cancer cell death, and reducing cell proliferation and metastases. Vitamin D influences more than 200 human genes, which could be impaired when we do not have enough vitamin D.
6) Other possible benefits - Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, autism, Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma severity, and swine flu. Further studies are needed before these associations can be proven. Many of these benefits are thought to occur through Vitamin D's positive effect on the immune system.