Also known as the “sunshine vitamin” Vitamin D is produced in our skin due to response of sunlight. It is a fat soluble vitamin with 3 different chemical structures, those being D, D2, D3, and D4. The 2 main forms are D2 and D3 both which are commonly found in our diet. Manufactures also add these into products such as milk, breakfast cereal and butter. This makes sense because a fat soluble vitamin it is best absorbed with fat. Those who are inside more often and at higher altitudes should consider taking it in supplement form to avoid deficiency.
Vitamin D2 is more commonly found in plant and fortified foods while D3 is found in animal scorched foods and created in your skin when exposed to sunlight, specifically UV-B radiation. Getting time outside without sun screen will likely get you the adequate levels you need. Also it doesn’t matter how far from the equator you are. Taking supplement form of vitamins is a great but there is a small possibility you can over due it. Luckily when it comes to skin absorption there’s no way you can overdose the vitamin D there.
Vitamin D plays a very important role in our hormonal responses and activate a huge number of human genes. This is only recently being discovered and scientist are doing vast research on vitamin D and its impacts or effects on Cancer, Dementia, and memory loss. There is also a common trend in diabetes and metabolic syndrome showing low levels of vitamin D. This is showing us Vitamin D is a huge immune booster! We have 2 types of immune systems that fight off infections. One being the innate system which is a quick response fighter and the other being the adaptive system which is highly specialized and produces antibodies but is a slower response time. Both systems are impacted by Vitamin D. The way vitamin D works when it comes down to it is by stimulating naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides. These peptides protect the body by destroying invading microbes. The antimicrobial peptides live in our immune cells throughout the body including the cells that line our respiratory tract and are able to fight off viruses and bacteria that cause immune infections. There is so much research on this, please do some of your own- as it is important we all understand how our bodies work so we can prevent disease.
When you are researching you may have notice there is a lot of conflicting information around vitamin D. This steams from thoughts on vitamin D not being a vitamin but a hormone. If you think about it, it does make sense because of how it is created naturally and how it acts with so many various receptor sites in our bodies. Doctors have been taught that vitamin D is toxic at high levels. Groundbreaking research at Boston University Medical Center revealed there is zero evidence high vitamin D doses exceeding 10,000 IU’s daily for 6 months causes toxicity. This was quickly vilified and Dr. Holick who was running this research was forced to step down from his position. Interesting right?
Supplementing Vitamin D can be confusing and you can always consult your doctor. Here is what we consistently found as recommended amounts for dosing. Vitamin D levels below 50 can be alarming and you should supplement immediately. Keep in mind you may have to consume higher numbers until your levels get where they should be.
Recommendations by the FDA
Infants (0-12months) 400 IU
Children (1-18) 600-800 IU
Adults (19+) 800 IU
Pregnancy and Lactation 600 IU
So what are the benefits of vitamin D?
- Fighting Disease. It will reduce your risk of MS (multiple sclerosis), developing heart disease and in a 2010 research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it will decrease your chances of developing the Flu.
- Reduces Depression. Remember the hormone reference? Research shows vitamin D plays and important role in regulating mood. Who doesn’t feel better after getting some sunshine in? Right!
- Aid in Weight Loss. Scientist say adding in supplements such as Calcium and vitamin D have an appetite suppressing effect. Not sure if we agree here but worth a try. How bad can it be to get your nutrients and loos weight.
So folks there you have it. Some simple information that you can take away and consider. Why not go for that walk or get that supplement, it could be just the thing you need to derail that flu season coming up or boost your mood!