When it comes to vitamins and their impact on health, it can sometimes be an alphabet soup trying to figure out what each one does. While vitamin C has been rated as the choice for immune support and E is considered for its skin-healing properties, there are a few other keys that are just as important to understand, such as vitamin D3.
THE BASICS OF VITAMIN D
Vitamin D is a unique type of vitamin because it actually acts more like a steroid hormone than a dietary aid and is not readily available in most foods as other vitamins often are; Because of this, it is estimated that almost 75 percent of people have some kind of deficiency.
In contrast, vitamin D is derived primarily from the sun, which is why it is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” When the skin absorbs sunlight, it synthesizes UVB rays into vitamin D.
Although you should always limit prolonged exposure to the sun, getting adequate amounts of rays is the first step in ensuring that your body has good reserves, which is important as vitamin D has a tremendous effect on your mood and, with it, time, it can help relieve symptoms. of depression. It is also a type of fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in how the body absorbs other nutrients.
But not everyone is as sunny as California or Florida, which limits access, and because the synthesis process varies from person to person, not everyone has the same ability to ingest the adequate amounts necessary for optimal well-being. This is where supplements come into play.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VITAMIN D, VITAMIN D2 AND VITAMIN D3
Vitamin D is available in two forms: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, and the main difference really is just the source. While D2 is made from plants and fungi (and often the type found in fortified milk, bread, and cereals), D3 is made from animal products and is the type most similar to that produced. the body naturally through exposure to sunlight. Because of this familiarity, most doctors and nutritionists recommend supplementing with vitamin D3.
THE MANY BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D3
Vitamin D3 can impact up to 2,000 different genes within the body and has a direct role in many more aspects of health than many might imagine.
Receptors for vitamin D are found in almost every cell, and as soon as D binds to a receptor, it turns genes on or off, causing changes at the cellular level. Studies over the past two decades have shown that this process turns off cancer-causing genes, turns on immunoprotective genes, and even tells cells which vitamins and minerals to absorb. All of this has a great effect on many important bodily processes, including:
• Bone health
Strong bones are the result of a good intake of vitamin D3 because it helps regulate and control the body’s ability to absorb phosphorus and calcium, two compounds that provide density and strength to the skeletal system and teeth.
• Insulin control
Vitamin D3 stimulates the pancreas and triggers the process to produce insulin. This is key to controlling blood sugar levels more effectively and can help diabetics better control the disease.
• Low blood pressure
A Boston University study found that people with high blood pressure experienced a decrease in numbers when vitamin D levels increased. D3 actively reduces the concentration of renin, an enzyme secreted by the kidney that affects blood vessels.
• Possible cancer prevention
Some evidence supports the idea that increased vitamin D3 can help slow the progression of prostate tumors, while other reports promise that combining the nutrient with more fiber may reduce the risk of developing polyps that could lead to cancer of the prostate. colon.
Another helpful combination is vitamin D and calcium: A four-year trial found that when postmenopausal women supplemented with both, their chance of developing cancer was reduced by 60 percent.
Vitamin D has also been frequently studied for its apparent link to breast cancer: In a study of 166 women undergoing treatment, nearly 70 percent had low levels of vitamin D, leading many scientists to theorize that there could be a link.
• Home health
Heart function can also be affected by the presence of vitamin D. In two studies, low levels of vitamin D were correlated with an increased chance of a heart attack. Although there is no clear reason why, some researchers believe that vitamin D acts as a “heart tranquilizer”, improving cardiovascular endurance and preventing heart muscle cells from overgrowing. This, in turn, prevents thickening of the ventricular walls, which can block blood flow and lead to a heart attack.
However, one of the most important benefits of vitamin D3 is its impact on mood. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder and are generally happier when the sun is shining due to the synthesis of the vitamin that occurs with direct exposure to UVB rays. Increasing vitamin D levels is not only a boost, it could effectively help reduce symptoms of clinical depression. Other treatments may also be necessary, but first it is essential to ensure adequate absorption of the vitamin.
VITAMIN D DEFICIENCIES
In recent years, doctors have begun to pay more attention to the very real problem of vitamin D deficiency and the problems it can cause. Some of the most common include:
- Severe bone pain, sometimes leading to stress fractures; a deficiency is also one of the main causes of the development of osteoporosis
- Muscle aches and general weakness.
- Fatigue and malaise
- Dificulty to walk
It is estimated that about 32 percent of children and adults have a deficiency, and that approximately 50 percent of the population is at risk of developing a deficiency. This is due to many factors, most of which revolve around the sun.
- Wearing a lot of sunscreen – While it may seem dangerous to go out in the sun without sunscreen, you will need to absorb some of the direct rays to increase your vitamin D; Most doctors agree that 15 minutes is long enough and carries little risk.
- Living in areas where pollution can filter ultraviolet rays.
- Spending more time indoors than outdoors
- Having a darker skin tone that reduces the amount of sunlight that can be absorbed.
- Living in areas with little sunlight or in areas with tall buildings that reduce direct sunlight.
- Working a ‘graveyard’ shift that makes it harder to get out in the sun regularly
- Taking some medications that can lower vitamin D3 levels, including barbiturates and statins.
GET MORE VITAMIN D3
Besides the general rule of sunbathing, there are other ways to get more vitamin D3 every day. While it is not a common nutrient in food (in fact, most plant sources have no trace of it), you can find it in:
- Fortified milk, bread, and cereals (check food label)
- Eggs, particularly yolks
- Cheese, particularly cheddar
- Fatty fish like sardines or salmon
Supplemental vitamins can also help. The recommended intake is 1000 IU per day and it is important that you always receive your doctor’s authorization first. Although vitamin D3 is an over-the-counter option, it is a hormone and should be administered only with professional guidance. A simple blood test can determine if you are indeed deficient and need higher than normal concentrations on a daily basis.