Did you know that there are five different types of Vitamin D? There's D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5, but D2 and D3 are the only types that our bodies can use. So, when something just says "vitamin D" it is generally referring to D2 or D3 (or a combination of the two).
Even more impressive, 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.
Don't worry if you're unable to catch those rays, you can get plenty of vitamin D through foods or supplementation. Check out this article to find the best foods that contain Vitamin D.
Benefits of Vitamin D
The number one way Vitamin D supports the body is through bone development because it enables calcium uptake in your body. It is also important for healthy immune system function and may help lower your risk of contracting colds.[2, 3] Vitamin D is such a powerhouse for the immune system that it may even protect your body from the influenza virus.
Vitamin D has had a positive effect on many different diseases, including multiple sclerosis, arthritis and even certain cancers [5, 6, 7]. While keeping healthy vitamin D levels is crucial for adults, it also benefits children. It's been shown that 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 discomfort.
There is even evidence suggesting that Vitamin D may play an important role in weight loss! 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. The biggest risk for having low levels of vitamin D are lifestyle factors including time spent indoors, 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.
- Bogh MK, Schmedes AV, Philipsen PA, Thieden E, Wulf HC. Vitamin D production after UVB exposure depends on baseline vitamin D and total cholesterol but not on skin pigmentation. J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Feb;130(2):546-53. doi: 10.1038/jid.2009.323. Epub 2009 Oct 8. Erratum in: J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Jun;130(6):1751.
- Rucević I, Barisić-Drusko V, Glavas-Obrovac L, Stefanić M. Vitamin D endocrine system and psoriasis vulgaris--review of the literature. Acta Dermatovenerol Croat. 2009;17(3):187-92. Review.
- Sue McGreevey. Risk Of Colds And Flu May Be Increased By Vitamin D Deficiency. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2009 February 24.
- Cannell JJ, Zasloff M, Garland CF, Scragg R, Giovannucci E. On the epidemiology of influenza. Virol J. 2008 Feb 25;5:29. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-5-29. Review.
- Kathleen Wets. Link Between Vitamin D And Reduction In Multiple Sclerosis Risk. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2009 May 28.
- n.p. High vitamin D intake linked to reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2004 January 12.
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Study Suggests Vitamin D Screening And Appropriate Supplementation Indicated For All Cancer Patients. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2009 June 16.
- American Thoracic Society. Vitamin D Levels Linked To Asthma Severity. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2009 April 24.
- Journal Of Neurology Neurosurgery And Psychiatry. Vitamin D May Have Key Role In Helping Brain Work Well In Later Life. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2009 May 21.
- Aaron Lohr. Link Between Successful Weight Loss And Vitamin D Levels. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2009 June 13.
- Hayes, Daniel. Vitamin D As Radiation Protection. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2008 November 10.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.