An extraordinary vitamin that’s even not exactly a vitamin!

The most beneficial vitamin for our health is called the “sunshine vitamin”. I can not even tell all of its benefits in one article! That’s why we have hundreds of books about Vitamin D, which is a fat-soluble vitamin that regulates calcium homeostasis, is vital for bone health, and much more.

Vitamin D is a nutrient, in fact it’s not truly a vitamin at all, but rather it is a kind of precursor of a hormone, with little hormonal effect of its own until it is converted into the hormonal form of vitamin D and amplifies its effect.

It plays an important role in our immune function. It helps with the absorption of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, thus helping to promote bone health.

And it’s called the “sunshine vitamin” because it is manufactured in the skin during exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light, which converts a form of cholesterol under the skin into vitamin D. Cholecalciferol (D3) and ergocalciferol (D2) are biologically inactive precursors of vitamin D and must be converted to biologically active forms in the liver and kidneys. For this reason, even you have exposure to sunlight everyday, it doesn’t mean you have getting enough.

The recommended daily dosage for vitamin D is 600 IU. However, that may not be enough for supporting the immune system. People with a dark skin synthesize less vitamin D on exposure to sunlight than those with light-colored skin. And as we age, we have a reduced capacity to synthesize vitamin D exposed to UVB radiation, and are also more likely to stay indoors or use sunscreen, which prevents vitamin D synthesis.

If you find it difficult to absorb fat, then you may most likely be Vitamin D deficient. Chronic kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn’s disease have all been linked to vitamin D deficiency. And being overweight or obese (with a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2) may increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. Once vitamin D is synthesized in the skin or ingested, it can be sequestered in body fat stores, making it less bioavailable to people with higher body fat mass. Magnesium deficiency may increase the risk of vitamin D insufficiency too, because magnesium regulates the activity of critical enzymes in vitamin D metabolism. Genetic variations can affect too.

A wide range of studies have shown evidence that intake or synthesis of vitamin D plays an important role in the prevention of colon, breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers. Actually, more than 1000 scientific studies have been published looking at the association between vitamin D and its metabolites and cancer. And many other conditions, including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, other forms of cancer, diabetes, depression, anxiety, arthritis, autoimmune disorder, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism and asthma have all been linked to Vitamin D deficiencies.

It’s so easy to test your vitamin D level in the blood, via a simple blood test for another hormonal precursor called 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. According to the National Institutes of Health, this value should be greater than 30 nanomoles per liter for a healthy vitamin D status. Just make sure that you check your vitamin D status before changing anything.

Food sources for Vitamin D include some fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, sardines), fish liver oils, eggs, and mushrooms.

Dr. Michael F. Holick, author of “The Vitamin D solution”, says “I recommend to all of my patients that they should take 2000–3000 IU of vitamin D a day from dietary sources, sensible sun exposure and supplements. I believe that it is important for women to take at least 2000 IU of vitamin D a day.”

There is a downside, however, with excessive vitamin D intake sometimes leading to elevated calcium levels in the blood, a condition that has been associated with heart disease.

So it is important not to jump to the conclusion that more is better, first it is important that you know your vitamin D level.

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