Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin, as your body naturally makes this vitamin when your skin is exposed to the sun’s rays. This specific vitamin is essential to helping your body be able to absorb other vitamins and minerals to keep your body healthy. During the summer months, many of us spend plenty of time outside, and therefore get enough sunlight for our bodies to convert into this nutrient. However, in the winter, especially in northern areas with lots of precipitation, we usually spend our time indoors, away from the cold. This means we are not getting enough sunlight for our body to make enough Vitamin D. For these months, some people take supplements to keep their vitamin levels in check. Authority Reports is a great site to help you find the right supplement for you. But what exactly is Vitamin D, and what do our bodies use it for?
How Does Vitamin D Work?
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption and regulation of both calcium and phosphorus in the body. Most people know how important calcium is in the building and protection of strong bones and teeth, however the importance of phosphorus is less known. Phosphorus makes up 1% of our body’s weight, being the mineral with the second highest concentration in our body. 80% of the body’s phosphorus is stored in the bones and teeth and aid in their protection. The other 20% is stored in your body’s soft tissues. In addition to helping with the creation of new amino acids and the creation of ATP, the body’s energy source, phosphorus also helps with nerve signaling and muscle contractions. Being one of the most important muscles in the body, phosphorus is essential to proper heart health.
Vitamin D works to help ensure that your body can absorb phosphates from food, like meat and milk. Additionally, this vitamin also helps your body regulate the phosphorus to ensure that it is going to the parts of the body that need this mineral the most. Without proper Vitamin D levels, it could set off a chain reaction in your body, decreasing both calcium and phosphorus in your body, and disrupting your entire body’s balance.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D Deficiency, or VDD, is common in more than 50% of the entire world’s population. As many people do not spend enough time outdoors or have darker skin that can lower the Vitamin D conversion rates in your skin, this is one of the biggest health epidemics our population faces. We need the ultraviolet-B rays from the sun for our skin to be able to convert that energy into the vitamin we need. However, things like sunscreen, clouds, or long sleeves, cut off the amount of UVB rays our body receives, which in turn diminish our Vitamin D stores. As very few foods actually contain an absorbable version of Vitamin D, we must expose ourselves to sunlight or find other ways to get this vitamin.
Luckily, body fat can act like a sponge for this vitamin, taking in extra vitamin D when it is available, and using up its stores when sunlight is unavailable. For normal maintenance, it is recommended to sit in the sun 2-3 times per week, for about ¼ of the time it would take for your skin to burn. If that is not a possibility, simply sitting in the sun 6 days in a row can make up for more than a month and a half of no sun exposure. For those with darker skin, it is important to get even more sun exposure than this, as your skin does not take in UVB rays as efficiently.
Older people also tend to lose UVB receptors as they age, so they are also more susceptible to VDD. Taking a daily Vitamin D supplement can help make up for this deficiency. Even people living in northern areas could use to take a supplement, at least during the winter months when sunlight is sparse.
Overall, Vitamin D is essential for your body’s normal functioning. In addition to the help it offers in growing stronger bones, vitamin D also helps with simple muscle movements. Making sure you are getting enough Vitamin D can be extremely difficult, especially if you do not spend enough time outdoors. As food is not a typical form of Vitamin D, if you do notice signs of a deficiency, it may be time to think about taking a supplement.