... the body must be exposed to direct sunlight before it can produce Vitamin D, which is often referred to as "the sunshine vitamin".
Shaklee Vitmins Review
Fat And Water Soluble Vitamins
Good Daily Multivitamin
Senior Vitamin Needs
Vitamins and the Body
Vitamina y Nuestro Cuerpo
Health Benefits of Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol - D3)
With all the fears that we now hear about going out in sunlight because of it possibly causing cancer, it's nice to find that a little sunshine in our lives can put...well...a little sunshine in our lives! That's because a few minutes of sunlight a day can help provide us with a very important vitamin that is hard to get elsewhere.
Vitamin D, or Cholecalciferol, is a vitamin that the body is capable of producing on its own.
One problem is that the body must be exposed to direct sunlight before it can produce Vitamin D, which is often referred to as "the sunshine vitamin".
It is not necessary to be a sun worshipper or tan our bodies for an hour a day to reap the vitamin-making benefits of sunlight. In fact, an hour a week is generally enough! This is unlike other vitamins where all of the body's daily requirement must come from the diet and/or by means of supplementation. For those unable, or unwilling to spend time in the sun, however, or during those times of the year when sunlight, or exposure to sunlight, may be minimal, a vitamin D supplement is available to make up for the lack of sunlight.
My Wife's Vitamin D Deficiency. Helped by Supplementation
By the way, in case you were wondering, the benefit of a vitamin D supplement is the same as if the compound were produced by the body due to interaction with sunlight. In fact, my wife was suffering a vitamin D deficiency and was able to reverse the effects of this by taking vitamin D supplements.
More on this subject under sources of vitamin D farther down the page.
It Is A Fat Soluble Vitamin
Vitamin D, or Cholecalciferol, is a very stable fat soluble vitamin. Like the other fat soluble vitamins, your body can store Vitamin D for later use. Because it has such a stable chemical structure, it is not normally broken down during food preparation or through exposure to heat (Such as in storage, cooking and other food preparation.) as other vitamins and nutritional compounds sometimes are.
Health Benefits of Vitamin D
One of the most important functions of Vitamin D is that it helps your body absorb calcium. This ability to make use of this vital mineral, in turn, helps keep your bones strong and less prone to breaks and brittleness. Important for bone and spine health, sufficient amounts of Vitamin D, whether from exposure to sunlight or from a vitamin D supplement, greatly reduce the risks of developing conditions such as osteoporosis and joint damage. It has also been shown to slow down the effects of arthritis and keep back pain under control.
Vitamin D is also necessary for proper absorption of phosphorus as well.
Vitamin D is currently being studied as an effective way to protect the body against colorectal cancer and the development of certain types of autoimmune diseases. Early results are promising.
Recent research has also shown that this important nutrient in some as yet unknown way seems to help protect not only against heart disease to some way. In fact, one study yielded results in which individuals with a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to die from a range of illnesses and conditions than those with normal levels. A vitamin D deficiency can also contribute to a sense of fatigue. In fact, more and more research has shown that in addition to osteoporosis, a deficienty in vitamin D can be linked to depression, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, parathyroid problems, immune function, and weight loss.
You will notice even more health benefits of vitamin D in the paragraphs on vitamin D deficiency.
However, a great deal of this research is still in its infancy, but more and more health care professionals, including my wife's endocrinologist, are becoming convinced that a lack of this nutritional element can account for a great many ills suffered by our overweight, indoor society...or at least for their intensity and increasing appearance.
Anyway, after going to several doctors and having various blood tests, MRI's, and a thyroid evaluation, all of which came back normal, my wife's condition (dizziness, mini-blackouts, frequent infections, depression, and general fatigue) improved when she began taking a vitamin D supplement.
Let me also point out that my wife has had the Roux-en-Y stomach bypass, and her doctor also pointed out that her symptoms were common in women who had undergone bariatric surgery, but often did not show for years afterwards.
Sources of Vitamin D
As mentioned earlier, the most common source of this important nutrient is by contact with direct sunlight on your skin. However, north of about 40 degrees latitude, and this is the latitude of Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Denver, winter sunlight is too weak to produce significant amounts of vitamin D with any normal exposure...even if you went skinny-dipping in Denver in the winter!
By the way people who are obese are less able to make use of vitamin D effectively, and may actually exhibit symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency despite a normal intake or sunlight exposure. This is due to the fact that it is a fat soluble vitamin and may be "locked up" in the tissues of the body, making it less available.
The average American diet can be lacking in vitamin D, and supplements are how many people deal with their vitamin D deficiency. Since it is so closely linked to calcium use by the body, vitamin D supplements, such as Chewable Cal Mag Plus from Shaklee combine calcium and vitamin D to make the most effective use of this nutrient.
However, it is still possible to add this nutrient to your diet in various ways without taking a vitamin D supplement. Milk that has been fortified with Vitamin D is one of the most common sources. It is a good choice also because it has the added bonus of providing the body with calcium needed for strong bones, and other benefits.
Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are some other good sources. Vitamin D is also found in animal fats including organ meats, butter, egg yolks and full-fat dairy products. Other foods that have been fortified with this vitamin, such as orange juice and cereals, are other reliable sources. One other good natural supplement is cod liver oil.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for most adults is 200 to 400 IU (International Units). People 50 to 70 years old should increase their intake to 400 IU and those older than 70 should get even more, 600 IU/day. It is also recommended that breast fed babies be given a Vitamin D supplement. Obviously, if you, and your doctor feel that you have some special situation, such as my wife had, and still has, you might, with their agreement, want to go up to 800 or 1,000 units a day.
As with most supplements, please note that some secondary health-related problems may result from too much Vitamin D, particularly as a supplement. Excessive amounts of calcium can lead to the development of kidney stones and over-calcification of teeth and bones. Calcium deposits in the arteries can cause hardening of the arteries. However, these are most likely to occur only with extremely large supplemental doses. When the body makes its own Vitamin D, it is self regulating, and the numbers shown for recommended amounts are well within a range where the health benefits of vitamin D can be experienced without the dangers of over-supplementation.
Symptoms of a Vitamin D Deficiency
Not seen for many years, Rickets, a disease long thought to be under control, is beginning to appear
again, especially in children who do not get sufficient quantities of
vitamin D. The primary symptoms of this disease are soft bones and
bones that develop abnormally. Infants that do not get sufficient
amounts of Vitamin D can develop a condition in which bones do not
harden. This commonly results in bowed legs, stunted growth and a lot
In seniors, insufficient levels of Vitamin D can cause, or contribute to, osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak and brittle and fracture
more easily than in our youth. Since vitamin D is absorbed in the small intestine, diseases
in the gall bladder, liver, and the pancreas can also impede
absorption and lead to deficiencies as well. Many weight loss (bariatric) surgeries, such as the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure, remove part of the digestive system which would normally extract vitamin D from food.
As I've mentioned earlier, a vitamin D deficiency is believed to also to be a potential cause of, or contributor to, such symptoms as dizziness, fainting, and fatigue. It may also contribute to depression, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, parathyroid problems, immune function, and difficulties with weight loss.
I will discuss this topic in depth elsewhere, just need to finish
researching and writing the article, but you might want to give this a
thought. If one of the health benefits of vitamin D is that
it aids the body in making use of calcium, then a vitamin D deficiency
may contribute to a calcium deficiency as well.
As I said, I am not going to go into this topic in depth here, but here is a list of symptoms of a calcium deficiency:
I hope this little discussion on the health benefits of vitamin D, or Cholecalciferol, has been of interest and of value to you.
- premenstrual cramps
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- heart palpitations
- generalized muscle aching
- coarse hair
- brittle nails
- tooth decay
- back and leg muscle cramps
- dry and scaly skin
- fungal infections, such as candida
- spasm of facial muscles
- neuromuscular irritability
- laryngospasm (you cannot catch your breath)
- papilledema (swelling of the optic nerve)
- lip, tongue, finger and feet paresthesias ("feeling pins and needles")
- numbness around the mouth
- numbness in arms and legs
- unexplained dementia, depression, or psychosis
"Something so simple, Vitamin D supplementation, could improve the health status of millions and so becomes an eloquent solution to many of our health problems today."
-- Carol L. Wagner, MD