Vitamin D: We Can Barely Live Without It
Following our recent posts about the power of vitamins, vitamin C and why you should prefer organic food, today’s article is dedicated to vitamin D, which is of extreme importance for your health and actually isn’t a vitamin per se, as we’ll explain.
What is vitamin D and what is it good for?
Actually, vitamin D is not a “real” vitamin at all. As already mentioned in our article The Power of Vitamins, vitamins are by definition essential organic compounds that the body has to take in regularly with food because it cannot produce them or cannot produce them in sufficient quantities. However, this does not apply to vitamin D — the proportion it obtained from food is relatively small at around 10 to 20 percent.
This includes above all foods such as:
- High fat fish
- Sweet potatoes
- Porcini and shiitake mushrooms
The main part, 80 to 90 percent, is synthesized by our own body with sunlight. Since the body converts vitamin D into a hormone (calcitriol), the term hormone precursor (prohormone) would be a better name for it.
The production of vitamin D in the body
Vitamin D is a group of fat-soluble vitamins produced in the body in two steps. Provitamin D3, which the liver produces from cholesterol, turns into vitamin D3 in the skin with the help of sunlight.
When the sun’s rays are insufficient, the body needs help to supply vitamin D, so it resorts to a reserve of stored vitamin D3 (in the form of calcifedol), usually stored in muscle and fat tissue.
Among other things, there is also vitamin D2 (also called ergocalciferol), which also belongs to this vitamin group. The body can convert this into vitamin D3, which is a much more effective form.
What do you need it for?
The main function of this vitamin in the body is the maintenance of the bones. As the name suggests, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is mainly responsible for calcium metabolism. Calcitriol promotes the formation and maturation of bone stem cells, as well as the incorporation of calcium and phosphate into the bones (making them stronger and harder). It also regulates the absorption of calcium in the intestines and has the following effects too:
- Strengthening of the musculature and immune system
- Protection of the brain’s nerve cells
- Positive effect on the psyche
- Supporting the cardiovascular system
- Reduction of vascular diseases
- Protection against rickets
- Protective effect against cancer
Vitamin D deficiency and its symptoms
Since this vitamin is involved in about 3000 metabolic processes, science no longer speaks of a vitamin D deficiency but of a insufficiency. The first indications of insufficiency are, among others, fatigue, sleep disorders, headaches and concentration problems. Long-term deficiencies can lead to heart rhythm disturbances, epileptic seizures, depression, asthma, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
As always, treat your body with care and stay healthy!
RECOMMENDED: Computer vision syndrome