Sunny Vitamin D
Nutrition Tidbits By Lisa Metzgar, PhD Eating your ABC’s Vitamin D- The sunshine vitamin
With the onset of summer this month is the perfect month to talk about the sunshine vitamin,Vitamin D.
Although not really a vitamin (Vitamin D is really a secosteroid), it plays a major role in our health. Vitamin D comes from two sources,the sun and our food. There are two forms of Vitamin D, Vitamin D2 called ergocalciferol and Vitamin D3 called cholecaldiferol. It is made in our skin cells with exposure of UVB light from the sun and is found in a some foods.
Vitamin D is carried in the blood to the liver in the prohormone form calcidiol. There it is transformed into the active form calatriol where it is then synthesized in either the kidneys or by monocyte macrophages in the immune system. If used in the immune system it acts as a cytokine to defend the body against microbial invaders. If synthesized in the kidneys it acts as a hormone in various functions in the body.
Vitamin D helps balance the content of calcium and phosphate in blood and promotes healthy mineralization and growth of bones. A deficiency results in malformed bones which is called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. In adults vitamin D also works with calcium to prevent osteoporosis.
Vitamin D also plays a role in neuromuscular function. A deficiency can lead to muscle weakness, chronic pain and even periodontal disease. It helps keep inflammation down in the body. Chronic inflammation and periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease.
It is a good idea to see a doctor before you start taking any Vitamin D supplements. They are finding that the older you get, the less efficient you are at making vitamin D,even if you get a lot of sunshine. Also the marketplace has made better and better sunblocks that help guard against skin cancer but blocks the UVB rays that your body so needs. Your doctor can test your blood levels and make recommendations for supplementation. Too much vitamin D can be toxic because it is a fat based steroidal compound.
There are some great natural sources of vitamin D:
Fatty fishes like salmon, catfish, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and eel
Eggs (the whole egg)
Fish liver oils
Mushrooms (those that have been exposed to sunlight)
Getting your daily requirement of Vitamin D will help increase your immunity, decrease risk of breast cancer and colon cancer, decrease stroke, diabetes, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. It can also help with depression.
So get out in the sun!