I am often asked what are my thoughts on Vitamin D. There certainly has been a lot published recently about the subject and many healthcare professionals are saying that we all don’t have enough of it. So far I am listening….I do know this more and more folks are not getting adequate sunshine and fresh air and I also know that you must address the basics first. In other words if your digestion is not functioning you will not adequately absorb any of nutrients you take into the body, whether that is a supplement or a food. Below is my article on Vitamin D that will help answer some of your questions. Have a happy easter and watch the sugar!
Dr Pia Martin DC CCN
Vitamin D is produced in the body when the UV radiation in sunlight strikes the skin, triggering its synthesis. It is metabolized into the active form of the vitamin (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D) in a two-step process that occurs first in the liver and finally in the kidneys.
What is vitamin D?
Early in the 20th century scientists discovered that rickets, a childhood disease characterized by improper bone development, could be prevented by a compound isolated from cod liver oil referred to as “fat-soluble factor D,” now known as vitamin D. The vitamin was also called “calciferol,” since it was found to boost calcium deposits in bone. Because vitamin D is so important in skeletal growth and strong bones, many foods are fortified with this vitamin to ensure that children obtain adequate amounts.
There are two basic types of vitamin D. Ergosterol is the basic building block of vitamin D in plants. Cholesterol is the basic building block of vitamin D in humans. In the past, these two forms of vitamin D (calcitriol originating in animals, and ercalcitriol originating in plants)
What is the function of vitamin D?
Maintaining proper calcium levels in the blood
Although typically categorized as a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin D actually functions more like a hormone. Calcitriol, the most metabolically active form of vitamin D, works with parathyroid hormone (PTH) to maintain proper levels of calcium in the blood.
Maintaining proper phosphorus levels in the blood
When vitamin D levels remain problematically low, the parathyroid gland becomes overactive, a condition known as hyperparathyroidism. PTH levels rise, and blood levels of phosphorus drop. Without adequate phosphorus, bone cannot be properly mineralized, which contributes to the defects seen in osteomalacia.
Maintaining healthy immune function and preventing excessive inflammation
Vitamin D also helps regulate immune system activity, preventing an excessive or prolonged inflammatory response. Our immune cells, specifically our active T-cells, have receptors for vitamin D. This is important because autoimmune diseases-including multiple sclerosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel diseases (such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis-all have a T-cell component of inflammation.
Foods Rich In Vitamin D
WILD Sockeye salmon is an exceptionally rich source of vitamin D: a 4-ounce serving of baked or broiled sockeye salmon provides 739.37 IU of vitamin D. The same 4-ounce serving of Chinook salmon, another excellent source of vitamin D, supplies 411 IU.
Why are sockeye salmon even more richly endowed with vitamin D than other salmon species? Because zooplankton constitute so much of there diet, and zooplankton-along with phytoplankton-are the key sources of vitamin D in the marine food chain
Also rich in Vitamin D are Sardines, Cod, Eggs and Milk.
Always choose organic sources and check with your health care professional if you are lactose intolerant.
Vitamin D supplementation
Please be clear however that you have to start with the basics. That means that if you take any food or supplementation into your body your digestion needs to be functioning well in order to absorb the available nutrients. Second, in the case of Vitamin D, the Liver and Kidneys play a vital role in the conversion of Vitamin D into it’s useable form. So these organs also need to be functioning well. Vitamin D also requires co-factors to function and the most important of these is Magnesium. Please talk to your healthcare professional before you begin supplementing with Vitamin D.
What are deficiency symptoms for vitamin D?
Vitamin D deficiency results in decreased absorption of calcium and phosphorus. As a result, prolonged vitamin D deficiency has a negative impact on bone mineralization.
The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight. It is particularly important for individuals with limited sun exposure to include good sources of vitamin D in their diets. Homebound individuals, people living in northern latitudes, individuals who wear clothing that completely covers the body, and individuals working in occupations that prevent exposure to sunlight are at risk for vitamin D deficiency.