Vitamin D: The most Underrated Vitamin for Health?

By March 8, 2016Nutrition
Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is rarely found in natural food Wine sources and is predominately synthesised by UVB rays from sunlight. Vitamin D obtained from our diets, supplements and from sunlight is the precursor of a steroid hormone that cheap mlb jerseys is involved cheap NBA jerseys in regulating calcium and phosphate homeostasis and must go through two biological wholesale jerseys processes to end up in its active form that the Robins body uses (also known as calcitriol) (Taylor sexy & Introduction Francis, 2003).

What does Vitamin D do?

The vitamin ultimately promotes calcium absorption in the gut via the expression of calbindin (an intracellular protein that transports calcium across intestinal epithelial cells) that regulates calcium and phosphate balance, effectively promoting bone mineralization and strengthening of the bones (Taylor & Francis, 2003).

However in recent years we have become aware that Vitamin D is more than just a bone protector and also plays vital roles in many body functions. It is involved in cell growth regulation, neuromuscular interactions, immune function and also in the reduction of inflammation. This is said to be due to the active role that Vitamin D has in modulating cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis (cell death). (National Institute of Health, 2014 & Close et al, 2016)).

How do we obtain Vitamin D?

For Vitamin D to be adequately synthesised in the body, skin needs to be exposed to direct sun for around 5- 30 minutes, twice a week, free from sunscreen and clothing.

There are very few natural food sources, however flesh from fatty fish, some cheeses, egg yolks and mushrooms all provide some amount of Vitamin D in the form of Vitamin D3.

Many everyday commercial products such as milks, cereals and juice are now fortified in Vitamin D via voluntary fortification and government regulation.

The effects of Vitamin D deficiency

The most severe health complication through a lack of Vitamin D is the formation of Rickets. Rickets is a painful bone disorder that results from a lack of bone mineralisation and has been common in young children in the past (Close et al, 2016).

Until recently we have been unaware that many tissues in our body express the Vitamin D receptor, suggesting that Vitamin D plays an integral physiological role. Meaning a deficiency could have consequences to cardiovascular health, immune function and muscle repair and growth (Close et al, 2016).

Who is at Risk of a Deficiency?

Australia’s sun-shy lifestyle out of a reasoned fear of skin cancer has led to many Australians reaching for the sunscreen and long sleeved shirts. Although this is essential to prevent the development of skin cancers, we are effectively preventing the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body.

This means that many Australians are relying on the very rare sources of Vitamin D (Vitamin D2 and/or D3) found in foods exposing themselves to becoming deficient. Although some groups of people are at greater risk including active people, elderly, those with dark skin complexes (higher melatonin levels) many Australians should consider themselves as potentially lacking in this precious vitamin.

Many Australians should be aware of the need to obtain Vitamin D and should spend more time in the sun, consume more rich food sources and consider taking a supplement. Supplements found as Vitamin D2 and D3 have been a key source of obtaining the adequate amount for the body especially amongst athletes, active people and those with bone health complications.

So is Vitamin D the most underrated vitamin? It is clear that Vitamin D has been left out of our social conversations in recent years, however with a new wealth of research suggesting the many roles that Vitamin D plays in our bodies many will begin to understand its importance. 

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Reference List

Close.GL, Hamilton. L, Philp. A, Burke. L, Morton. JP, 2016 ’New Strategies in Sport Nutrition to Increase Exercise Performance’, Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board,’ Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D’, Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 2010.

Sanders, T. and Emery, P. (2003). Molecular basis of human nutrition. London: Taylor & Francis.

Ben Tripodi

About Ben Tripodi

Ben is a Nutritionist and Health Scientist who has a passion for endurance sports. Coming from an elite triathlon background, he's interested in how nutrition can aid in performance and general health and wellbeing.

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