Vitamin D is a unique essential vitamin. We can produce it within our bodies with exposure to sunlight. It can be consumed through diet, but occurs very rarely in food (certain fatty fish being the main source). Although sunlight can provide most people with their entire vitamin D requirement, deficiency is common. The application of sunscreen with an 8 SPF factor reduces production of vitamin D by 95%; higher SPF essentially eliminates all vitamin D production.
Our immune system is greatly influenced by vitamin D. It also assists with the complex regulation of calcium in the body— supporting calcium absorption and integration into our bones. Also, recent research supports vitamin D’s role in preventing uncontrolled dividing of cells (rapid proliferation) and lack of cellular differentiation, both of which contribute to the formation of cancers in the body. As if those key roles aren’t enough to make vitamin D is an essential component of our well-being, it also plays a role in blood pressure regulation and insulin secretion.
Once consumed or synthesized, vitamin D enters the circulation system and is transported to the liver where it is converted to form 25-hydroxyvitamin D (calcidiol; 25-hydroxyvitamin D). This is the major circulating form of vitamin D and a useful indicator of vitamin D nutritional status. In the kidney it is further metabolized resulting in the formation of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol, 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D). This is the most potent form of vitamin D, and most of the physiological effects of vitamin D in the body are related to the activity of it.
Vitamin D deficiency can result in a host of symptoms, including muscle weakness and pain, fatigue, painful menses, bone malformation, osteoporosis, chronic illness, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and cancer, although too often the vague symptoms of vitamin D deficiency go ignored. To determine your vitamin D levels, contact Woodside’s Wellness Director, Dr. Amanda Chaney. [email_button text=”Dr. Chaney” email=”[email protected]”]