Vitamin D is one of the thirteen essential vitamins that we must consume daily to get our bodies to function and live healthy life. However, it’s been shown that at least half of the population have a deficiency of vitamin D, these rates increase in people with dark skin and over fifty.
There is a very low amount of women that consume the required amount of 400-800 UI daily. “The National Osteoporosis Foundation” recommends between 800 to 1000 UI daily for adults over fifty. However, a very interesting fact about vitamin D is that this often-misunderstood "vitamin" is not a vitamin but it is a prohormone.
Prohormones are substances that the body converts to a hormone. In fact, unlike other vitamins, only about 10 percent of the vitamin D the body needs comes from food (such as dairy products and oily fish), and the rest the body makes for itself. Understanding this hormone and the role it plays in the body will help you make informed health decisions.
Vitamin D is a hormone that the kidneys produce to control blood calcium concentration and impacts the immune system. It is also known as calcitriol, ergocalciferol, calcidiol and cholecalciferol. The body makes vitamin D in a chemical reaction that occurs when the sunlight hits the skin. This reaction produces cholecalciferol, and the liver converts it to calcidiol. The kidneys then convert the substance to calcitriol, which is the active form of the hormone in the body.
WHY DO WE NEED VITAMIN D?
Vitamin D is considered an essential vitamin even though it is also produced by the skin as a prohormone, which can be converted into an active hormone in the liver and kidneys, and then communicates with other tissues.
Vitamin D improves the absorption of calcium from the small intestine. Vitamin D supports and maintains bone health by promoting bone growth and remodeling. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorous, nutrients essential for the growth and straight of bones. Vitamin D is also involved with cell differentiation and growth, neurological functions, lowering inflammation, and boosting the immune system to fight off illness and teeth.
It can also help prevent breast, prostate, or any other colorectal cancer. Researches also show it may aid in preventing certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension. The deficiency of vitamin D is related to osteoporosis and hip fractures. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin; this means that this vitamin is stored in the liver and fat cells of fatty tissue and it’s not easily flushed away.
TYPES OF VITAMIN D AND HOW TO OBTAIN IT
There are two forms of vitamin D, ergocalciferol or Vitamin D2, and cholecalciferol, Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is derived from plant and yeast dietary sources. Vitamin D3 is the form that is made by the body when exposed to the sun’s UV rays. It is recommended to take sunlight for 10-15 minutes at least twice a week. This is basically the most important and cheap way to get vitamin D.
It is very important to know that the sunlight must be taken without any sunscreen on or otherwise the body won’t be able to absorb this vitamin. Vitamin D is also found in lichen which is cyanobacteria or algae. Other sources to obtain vitamin D are by consuming mushrooms.
Vitamin D3 is found in salmon, tuna, egg yolks, beef liver, and cheese, but we vegans have to take it from supplements. Since Vitamin D is absent from most food sources, certain products such as breakfast cereals and dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D, Both Vitamin D2 and D3 are used in nutrition supplements. When consuming fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin D, it is best to accompany these nutrients with dietary fat for optimal absorption.