Vitamin D is making the headlines more and more – barely a week goes by without another study linking to a reduced risk. Research has linked the vitamin to a reduced risk of depression, breast cancer and colds and chest infections.
But what is it, how much do we need, and why is it so vital to our health?
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, both needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Vitamin D is involved in the activation of macrophages – the hunter-killer cells that engulf and destroy invading viruses, bacteria and even fungi. Vitamin D receptors are also present on other immune cells which fight infection and regulate our allergic responses and inflammation.
The nutrient is also involved in the production of antibiotic-like proteins in the cells lining the respiratory tract. Known as defensins, these proteins stick to bacterial walls and open up holes so bacteria become leaky and implode. Defensins are also active against viruses. It’s therefore not surprising people who have low vitamin D levels – especially in winter – are more prone to colds, influenza, bronchitis and even pneumonia.
And it doesn’t stop there. There are so many more health benefits to making sure you get your vitamin D in daily.
Vitamin D is Actually a Hormone: Here’s Why You Need It
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (technically a hormone) that is generally produced by special cells in our skin, in conjunction with cholesterol. When the sun hits your skin, it sets off a series of chemical reactions that produce each of the phases of Vitamin D.
This Vitamin D3 is then transported to your liver where it is converted into the usable form of vitamin D, and then goes about doing all the wonderful things vitamin D does for us. Did you know that one of the roles of vitamin D is helping us to better absorb and utilize calcium & phosphorus? That is one of the reasons why many calcium supplements come with vitamin D included.
Boost your body’s ability to utilize these bone, teeth and nail building minerals by getting your daily dose of vitamin D through 15-30 minutes of bare skin sun exposure 3-5 times per week (longer exposure needed the darker tone your skin is and where you live in relation to the equator), beating foods high in naturally occurring vitamin D2 (Ergocalciferol), and
supplementing with very effective and inexpensive vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) oils which can be readily found in a health food store near you.
If you can only afford one supplement for your health, the wide array of health enhancing and disease preventative benefits that healthy levels of Vitamin D3 provides makes this the one.