Vitamin D : A fat soluble vitamin that is require for absorption and use of calcium and phosphate for healthy bones and teeth.

Vitamin D  otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D, a fat soluble vitamin that has properties of both a vitamin and a hormone, is required for absorption and utilization of Calcium and Phosphorus; required for bone and teeth normal development and formation; maintains a stable nervous system and normal heart action. It is synthesized in the skin by sunlight.

Fat-soluble, which means it needs to be taken with fats to be absorbed in the digestive system.  It is stored by the body in the liver. There are several forms of vitamin D.  The two most important to humans are ergocalciferol or vitamin D2 from plants, and cholecalciferol or vitamin D3 that is made from a type of cholesterol in skin, when sunlight acts on it.  Both types need further metabolism in our liver and kidneys before they can become the active forms (ercalcitriol and calcitriol respectively) that the body uses.

Function of Vitamin D

  • promotes adequate levels and use of calcium and phosphorus, which is especially vital for development of bones and teeth, and for ensuring normal bone mineralization, growth and remodeling
  • increases calcium deposition into bones and builds bone density to prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures
  • prevents and treats rickets and osteomalacia
  • may be needed for normal cell growth (especially those of the brain and immune system)
  •  may reduce age-related decline in mental agility (according to a study by the University of Manchester reported in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry)
  •  stimulates production of insulin which is needed to handle blood sugars
  • protects against hypertension (high blood pressure)
  •  recent research suggests vitamin D may protect against diseases like cancer (particularly breast, prostate, colon cancers) and heart disease
  • may also help regulate immune system function to control inflammatory response, which is important for preventing auto-immune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriaris, and irritable bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
  •  preliminary studies suggest that long-term supplementation decreases the risk of multiple sclerosis (an autoimmune disease)

Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin D

  • osteomalacia (adult rickets) due to inadequate calcium in bones, and characterized by weak soft bones, muscular weakness, even bow legs
  •  muscle or bone pain (including low back pain)
  • frequent bone fractures
  •  osteoporosis where bones become porous, weak and brittle
  • higher risk in those aged 50 and over of periodontal disease (a chronic inflammatory gum disease)
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  •  increased risk of diabetes due to insufficient insulin produced
  • increased risk of high blood pressure (hypertension)
  •  hypocalcemia (low blood calcium level) characterized by muscle cramps, twitching nerves or muscles, numbness and tingling of fingers and toes, irregular heart contractions, and irritability

The best source of vitamin D is from sunlight, which is made in the skin when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.  As little as 10 or 15 minutes a day of bright sunlight might be enough.

Best food sources of vitamin D

Sprouted seeds, alfalfa, dandelion greens, horsetail, mushrooms, nettle, nuts, parsley,  seeds, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, wheat germ. Smaller amounts are also present in dark leafy vegetables.

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