What is vitamin D?
The majority of people correlate vitamin D with cow’s milk or the sun, but many don’t know exactly what it does. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that can be obtained from either food or supplementation, and is synthesized in the skin when one is exposed to the sun. Technically, its classification is a vitamin, but acts more like a hormone in the body.
What Does Vitamin D Do?
Vitamin D is responsible for helping maintain many cellular and metabolic processes in the body. It helps regulate our sex hormones and is important for bone health and helping maintain correct levels of certain minerals in the body. It helps with immune function, cellular production, and helps with therapy of chronic illness, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease.
What Conditions are Associated with Vitamin D Deficiency?
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to osteoporosis, bone fractures, hypertension, hypothyroidism, diabetes, hormone deficiencies such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, joint pain, muscle aches, and depression. Deficiencies in this crucial vitamin are linked to neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Childhood disorders like rickets, also known as osteomalacia is a direct result of vitamin D deficiency.
How Can Vitamin D Supplementation Benefit Me?
Studies have shown that vitamin D3 supplementation has beneficial effects on bone mineral density, fractures and falls without evidence of harm. It can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast, prostate, colon, ovarian and pancreatic cancer. It protects brain cells through detoxification, and helps the synthesis of proteins that help aging brain cells survive and fight neurological degeneration. It can help increase testosterone levels in men and regulate estrogen and progesterone levels in women. It also may lower blood pressure, improve blood pressure control, and regress heart enlargement. Studies have shown that it can reduce inflammation in certain GI disorders, like Celiac and IBD.
How Do I Test My Vitamin D Levels?
Vitamin D levels can be evaluated through a simple blood test done by your physician. Your physician can test your 25 (OH)D levels, which can determine if you are deficient. Optimum vitamin D levels are 50-80 ng/mL, and need to be monitored regularly with supplementation, as vitamin D overdosing and toxicity can be very harmful to the body and organs.