Are you getting enough sun to avoid common colds – and cancer?
There are five different types of Vitamin D (D1, D2, D3, D4 & D5), but D2 and D3 are the only types that our bodies can use...
When something just says “vitamin D” it is generally referring to D2 or D3 (or a combination of the two).
Vitamin D is a prohormone, which is the precursor to a hormone. In its raw form (sun exposure, foods, supplements), Vitamin D is inert and has to go through a series of complex biochemical reactions before your body can use it. These reactions produce calcitriol, which is the form of Vitamin D that is used by your body (D2 and D3).
Vitamin D is one of the only vitamins that your body can produce by itself. What is the catalyst that gets your D production going? Good old fashioned sunshine! It’s the ultraviolet-B radiation (UVB) that enables vitamin D production to occur in the skin.
Vitamin D is produced in equal amounts in both people with fairly pigmented and darkly pigmented skin after exposure to UVB radiation (sunlight). Sunlight is important for Vitamin D production, but the strength of sunlight and the intensity of UVB exposure can be affected by season, distance from the equator, and even personal habits. If you have a job that keeps you indoors during daylight hours, or you work nights, you don’t produce as much Vitamin D as someone who is outside for at least ten to fifteen minutes each day.
Vitamin D can be supplemented by eating the right foods. See my previous blogpost about foods containing Vitamin D.
Benefits of Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays an important role in bone building by enabling calcium uptake by your body. It is also very important for healthy immune system function and may help lower your risk of contracting colds. Vitamin D also helps confer innate immunity which may protect your body from the influenza virus.
Vitamin D has been linked to the prevention of many different diseases, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis and even cancer. Children with higher vitamin D levels are less likely to suffer from asthma and allergies than those who are vitamin D deficient. Mental agility might be maintained by adequate levels of the vitamin, especially in the elderly.
Because Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, it is important for bone mineralization (hardening), which keeps your bones strong and supple. A sufficient amount of Vitamin D helps prevent joint pain and osteoporosis. There is also evidence suggesting that Vitamin D may play an important role in weight loss, both in adults and in children.
Some researchers are exploring whether vitamin D may act as a natural protector from low levels of radiation, such as the background radiation we receive from sunlight and other sources.
Symptoms & Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
There are no clearly defined causes of vitamin D deficiency, however the obvious culprits are not eating right and a lack of activity in general, but especially outdoor activity. Adults and children who have poor diets are especially at risk. Risk factors for being vitamin D deficient include race, gender, and lifestyle, including time spent watching TV, playing video games or sitting in front of the computer.
People at high risk of having Vitamin D Deficiency Syndrome (VDDS) are often those who suffer from other disorders, such as autoimmune diseases, heart disease, osteoporosis, chronic pain and fatigue, and certain cancers. Symptoms for some of these disorders can be lessened by taking a Vitamin D supplement or eating more foods with vitamin d.
Other diseases and disorders, such as rickets, rheumatism, and osteoporosis (bone disease) can be exascerbated by a lack of vitamin D in the body. Hypocalcemic tetany, a condition in which the body is low in calcium due to vitamin D deficiency, casues overactive neurological reflexes, spasms of the extremeties (hands and feet) and larynx, and muscle cramps. Calcitriol, the form of vitamin D your body uses, plays a key role in the maintenance of many organ systems.
Vitamin D Side Effects
While essential to organ, bone and immune system health, it is not advisable to exceed the recommended dosage of vitamin D unless you are under the care of a medical doctor.
Taking too much vitamin D (more than 5000 IU per day) over a long period of time may cause excess calcium levels in the blood, which can worsen conditions like atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), kidney stones, histoplasmosis (a fungus that is breathed in and grows in the lungs, possibly spreading to other organs), hyperparathyroidism, and lymphoma.
About the author
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!