What Is Vitamin D? Vitamin D Benefits
Vitamin D Benefits
What is vitamin D? Vitamin D is not technically a vitamin. Vitamins are classified as organic chemical compounds that cannot be synthesized sufficiently by the body and must be acquired from the diet.
However, vitamin D can be synthesized from cholesterol in sufficient amounts with adequate exposure to sunlight. It is estimated that ten to fifteen minutes in direct sunlight a day is a sufficient amount of time to synthesize the required amounts of vitamin D.
External Sources Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D can be ingested as cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), which is attained from animals and supplements, or ergocalciferol (vitamin D2), which is attained from plant based diet and vegan supplements.
At one time you would more easily find vitamin D2 as a supplement, but now since you will find vitamin D3 more easily because research now indicates that it is the better form to use.
Vitamin D Benefits: Sunlight Derived Vitamin D Vs. Food And Supplements
The concern with generating vitamin D from exposure to the sun is the risk of getting getting skin cancer, because the depletion of the ozone layer minimizes the protection we get from the greater amount ultraviolet radiation is allowed to reach the earth.
Vitamin D Interaction In the Body
The liver converts D2 and D3 into calcidiol, which is also known as 25-hydroxycholecalciferol, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D, and is abbreviated 25(OH)D). 25(OH)D) is measured in serum to determine a person’s vitamin D level.
The kidneys convert part of the calcidiol into calcitriol, which is the biologically active form of vitamin D. Calcitriol circulates as a hormone in the blood, and regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream, to promote the healthy growth and repair of bones.
Calcitriol also affects neuromuscular function and inflammation. Calcidiol is also converted to calcitriol outside of the kidneys for purposes such as the growing of new cells and destruction old of cells.
Amount Of 25(OH) Needed In The Body
More recent studies show that the minimal level of 25(OH)D in the blood for optimal health should be between 50-70 ng/ml. Some even feel that 70 ng/ml should be the minimal level for optimal health. Anything greater than 100 ng/ml is excessive or toxic.
The present sufficiency level is between 30 ng/ml and 15 ng/ml, and anything under 15ng/ml would indicate deficiency. The number of people with vitamin D deficiency would sky rocket if the 50-70 ng/ml scale was used.
I had my vitamin D levels tested and the lab listed the acceptable range to be between 30-100 ng/ml. My previous test showed I was vitamin D insufficient, and after I adopted a vegan diet my level did drop.
Vegans and vegetarians need to watch their vitamin D level because these diets lack vitamin D. I now take vitamin D supplements in the winter, and I get out in the sun as much as possible in the summer. (My latest blood work indicated my level was 75 ng/ml.)(Update: I haven’t taken vitamin D supplements in many years. I make sure to spend time in the sun. I am outside a lot cycling, jogging, walking, or just sitting in the sun. So as a vegan it is very possible to get the needed amount of vitamin D only by getting sun exposure.)
Many people who eat meat are also vitamin D sufficient and deficient, so we all have to be concerned with our levels. The simple solution is to get out in the sun more.
Vitamin D Health Benefits
Vitamin D was primarily regarded as an important nutrient for bone health due to its ability to regulate calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream.
New and ongoing research supports that vitamin D receptors are present in the majority of tissue cells in the body, and that vitamin D is involved in many more processes in the body than previously thought. Ongoing research supports that vitamin D insufficiency (<30 ng/mL) is linked to a higher risk of developing:
Type 2 Diabetes
Support your healthy living by making sure you get enough vitamin D to get all the life supporting vitamin D benefits.