Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine Vitamin”. Its scientific name is Calciferol and it is used by our entire body, a fat soluble vitamin. That is stored in the liver and fatty tissues. The skin, liver, kidney and bloodstream all help form the fully active form of Vitamin D. When our skin comes in contact with Ultraviolet Rays it creates this vitamin. The sun hits our skin then the cholesterol in our skin creates the Vitamin D. After, its send to the liver where its converted to its usable form. Other sources of Vitamin D are in supplements, fish liver oil and fortified foods.
Rickets, The First Air Pollution Disease
Vitamin D became essential after the Industrial Evolution. Rickets, found mostly in children, is a disease that affects the skeleton. Children who played in dark, narrow streets or who worked inside were commonly affected. It showed up as underdeveloped bone densities causing crippling characteristics. In North American and Northern Europe four out of five children developed it in the 1900. Bowed legs, knock knees, and misshapen skeletons were common. This was the first air pollution disease of the modern age. In 1925 scientist realized the need for sunshine and vitamins from fish oil helped treat this problem. By the 1930’s all cows milk mandatorily fortified with Vitamin D. Its said that the character Tiny Tim suffered from Rickets.
Why Do We Need Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is essential for the proper formation of our bones. It regulates the calcium levels in our bloodstream. It controls three different movements. The absorption in the intestines. Loss through urine. And the storage in our bones. If we don’t have the proper amount of Vitamin D our body can not properly utilize calcium. And if we cant utilized calcium properly our bones cannot reach a strong density. Vitamin D is also involved in cell devision. It help our cells to divide in a proper healthy way. Vitamin D and cell division has been studied for its role in helping Cancer from growing.
The Sunshine Effect
The sun is one of the most effective ways we can get the needed Vitamin D. But there are a few things we need to know to optimize our intakes safely. Glass blocks the Ultraviolet rays. We need to be outside enjoying those rays to benefit from them. Any sunscreens over 8 SPF will block our skin cells from creating it.
The older we get the less our skin cells can create it. Its absorption drops 25 – 50% as compared to younger ages. Also people with darker pigmented skin absorb less than those who have lighter pigmentation. This may be the reason people further from the equator have lighter pigmentation. Like the Scandinavian, they don’t get as much exposure to sun as someone in Central America. Therefore their ability to absorb what little rays they can is important.
Vitamin D production in the skin is also related to the latitude and season where an individual lives. The potential for Vitamin D synthesis on a sunny day in the winter is still 16 times less compared to the summer. “Vitamin D Winter” is a time where bodies produce little or no Vitamin D. It can last three to four moths. It can be longer or shorter in relation to your location to the north or south pole. Los Angeles, which is 34 degrees north of the equator has no Vitamin D winter. But Boston, 42 degrees north of the equator has a Vitamin D winter from November to February. And here in Canada, Edmonton 52 degrees north. Its Vitamin D winter is October to March. Our bodies know how and when to optimize storage of Vitamin D to get us through these “dark: times.
Sources Besides The Sun
Supplements and fortified foods are our second best choice of Vitamin D. When we age, live in darker places, work inside, live in smoggy cities or are unable to maximize conversion from the sun. We need to use these other sources to keep our storage at healthy levels.
Supplements typically come in to forms, D2 and D3. The form D2 is made from yeast that has been treated with ultraviolet rays. This the form that would be a Vegan option. It has an absorption rate of 60% when compared to D3. D3 comes from the skin and wool of animals like sheep, cows and pigs. Because of this deference of absorption D2 levels should be increased. D2 for people fifty and under should be 8.5 micrograms daily, fifty-one to seventy 17 micrograms and seventy-one and up 25.5 micrograms daily. Intakes of D3, fifty and under 5micrograms daily, fifty-one to seventy 10 micrograms, and seventy-one and up 15 micrograms.
We can also incorporate fortified foods into our everyday diet. Milks such as cows, soy, oat, rice and almond can all come fortifies with vitamin D. Cereals and vegetable based spreads like Margarine are also available. These products can help individuals meet their daily intake on Vitamin D. Look for products that say “Enriched” or “Fortified”. They will also state how much Vitamin D is in each serving on the Nutrition Label. Other sources are eggs. As long as the chicken was given good sources of the vitamin. Cod Liver Oil, mostly in capsule form now. Was a very commonly way to consume Vitamin D. Its present in few plants but in low levels.
Too Much Is Toxic
Vitamin D, when consumed at higher doses can be toxic. If you exceed the recommended intake by three to five times it causes Hypercalcemia. This is when our blood levels of calcium are too high. It causes our body to store calcium in soft tissue. And that is not good. It may lead to heart and kidney damage. For this reason we need to make sure that we are not taking too much of a supplement combined with fortified foods. The suns rays will not cause this issue. But there is risk of sun burn and damage that could lead to cancer. Its important to get out for the early day or late afternoon sun. When we get mid day sun exposure in summer. The rays are at their strongest, sunscreen and sun protection should be worn.
I hope this information on Vitamin D was helpful to you. And it cleared up any confusion on the topic of this Essential Vitamin. If you would like to chat about nutrition please feel free to send me an email at [email protected]
Thank you again for your time and as always healthy regards,