What Exactly is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is both a nutrient we eat and a hormone our bodies make. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that has long been known to help the body absorb and retain calcium and phosphorus; both critical for building bone. Laboratory studies show that vitamin D can reduce cancer cell growth, help control infections, and reduce inflammation.
How Does the Body Make Vitamin D?
The form of vitamin D that is created naturally by the body needs sunlight to convert a chemical in your skin, a form of cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol), into vitamin D3. This is carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it into active vitamin D.
Why Is Vitamin D So Important?
Vitamin D is critical to the proper functioning of the human body, including bone health, and immunity. It may even prevent cancer and protect against many health conditions including:
- Bone Loss
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Heart Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
Vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining a balance of calcium in your blood and bones. When your body is lacking the amount of vitamin D that it needs, it begins to try to balance the calcium in your blood by taking calcium from your bones. This causes accelerated bone demineralization, which is when a bone breaks down faster than it can reform.
When bones begin to break down through demineralization, you’re most likely to fracture bones and have soft bones, which can lead to pain and an increased risk of osteoporosis. In children, demineralization can lead to bowed or bent bones as their bones are still growing.
5 Surprising Causes of Vitamin D Deficiency
There are several biological and environmental factors that can put you at risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency. There are also some medical conditions that increase the likelihood of a deficiency. Some surprising causes include:
- The pigment of your skin: People with darker skin pigmentation (the amount of melanin in the skin), are at a higher risk for developing a vitamin D deficiency. The melanin absorbs the UVR (ultraviolet rays) and begins the vitamin D conversion process and skin that is darker absorbs less light, thus less vitamin D is produced.
- Being overweight or obese: Since vitamin D is fat-soluble, people with higher amounts of body fat will ‘sequester’ vitamin D in fat cells, leading to lower amounts circulating in the blood.
- Living in regions with little year-round sunlight: If you live north of the 37th parallel in the United States — this border runs from around central California to the southern borders of Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia — in the winter months, you are not getting enough sunlight from being outdoors. Not only is there not enough sunlight to sustain the amount of vitamin D you need, but the UVR is also significantly weaker, as well.
- Aging: Older adults are at a higher risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency because they tend to spend more time indoors away from natural sunlight. Also, our skin thins as we age, which makes vitamin D synthesis less efficient. Additionally, reduced appetite and less effective absorption of nutrients compound a vitamin D deficiency for aging adults.
- Having a health condition that affects nutrient absorption: Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, and Cystic Fibrosis all prevent your intestines from adequately absorbing enough vitamin D, thus leading to a deficiency.
What Can You Do About a Vitamin D Deficiency?
There are a few things you can do to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D, and also increase the amount of vitamin D you are getting to ward off a deficiency.
- Sun: Moderate exposure to natural sunlight each day is essential for adequate vitamin D production; however, it is still important to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, so this can be tricky. Red light therapy may be an option to increase the production of vitamin D in your body. Red light therapy is part of 10X Health’s Superhuman Protocol, which gives your body the power to heal itself and optimize your wellness using magnetism, oxygen, and red light.
- Diet: Although few foods naturally contain vitamin D, there are some that do. These include fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon), fish liver oils, egg yolks, and cheese. There are also fortified vitamin D foods available.
- Supplements: Most people need a vitamin D supplement in their diet to guarantee that they are meeting the minimum requirement for vitamin D daily. Supplements are a great choice because they are easy to take and provide a convenient adjustment to your lifestyle. A genetic test will provide the answer as to which nutrients you are deficient in, so you know which supplements to add to your routine to optimize your well-being.
Vitamin D is essential for the proper functioning of your body. It is necessary for the proper development, operation, and maintenance of your bones, as well as providing protection against some serious health conditions. Making sure you are giving your body enough vitamin D is imperative to reaching your ultimate wellness goals.