- Dr. Michael
Vitamin D – Not only important for the bones…..
Vitamin D – one of the most important Vitamins for the human body – that important that the body produces it itself – if he has the chance for it. This means, if the body gets exposed to sun, vitamin D is produced, if the body is covered, protected with sun-screen or dressed with layers of clothing this cutaneous transformation and production of Vitamin D is inhibited.
Vitamin D is not only important for strong Bones and Muscle performance. A Deficiency is related to a couple of other Diseases like Dementia and Cancer.
No other Vitamin has a likewise high importance and function to the body. Well known is that Vitamin D protects our body from infections and increases our immune competence. Therefore it is important to get enough sun exposure, as this increases the endogenous production of Vitamin D in the body. Therefore Vitamin D is often known as “Sun Vitamin”.
Many people are not aware that Vitamin D is a variety of different Vitamins, D1 to D5, whereas the most important is Vit D3, Cholecalciferol. Several steps of synthesis are needed to transform it into the biologic active form.
As other Vitamins like B, C and E have to be taken by food, Vitamin D can be produced alone by the own body, provided that UV radiation from sunlight is exposed to the skin surface. Here on the surface of the skin Vit D precursor lipoproteins which contain Cholesterol are transformed in the biological active Vitamin D3. 80-90% of the Vitamin D demand is usually covered this way. This is at about 20 microgram per day. Accumulated excess of Vit D3 will be stored in the body for example in the liver and fat tissue. In low-sunlight season the body can consume these reserves out of its storage. The remaining 20% of Vitamin D demand will usually be supplemented with food rich in Vitamin D. Fat fish like herring and salmon, liver, mushrooms and egg yellow are rich on Vitamin D. Nevertheless a quite enormous amount of these nutrients would have to be consumed to get considerable amount of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is a precursor for various hormons, constantly new functions are scientifically proven. Not only in the hormonal system and in the immune system Vit D has a key role. Meanwhile we know that almost any cell of the body carries a Vitamin D receptor. The action spectrum of this Vitamin could be even bigger than now already know.
Without Vitamin D some immune cells are not able to work. These T cells belong to the group of Lymphocytes. Vitamin D has an important double function. On the one hand it stimulates the production of defense cells, on the other hand it modulates the excessive immune defense to a standard. This is why Vitamin D is so important in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or even multiple sclerosis.
Vitamin D is important to mineralize the bone. It regulates the mechanism of the bone building cells, the osteoclasts. Hence Vitamin D is that important for the bone as calcium. Most popular example for a deficiency in Vitamin D is rickets. Vitamin D Deficiency is still related with axial deformities and overuse problems in children and adults, like bow legs, knock knees, flatfeet and overuse pathologies like Osgood-Schlatter disease and Severs disease.
Vitamin D supports muscle development and growth and protects to a certain extent against age related muscle loss.
Brain and nervous system:
Multiple studies have shown that Vitamin D has a preventive effect in relation to certain diseases of brain and nerves like Alzheimers disease, dementia, Parkinsons disease and even strokes. Additionally it is able to reduce the risk of falling in elderly people, a high risk factor for care dependency due to femoral neck fracture, confinement to bed and immobility.
New studies are showing a relationship in between Depression and significant Vit D Deficiency. Also the so called winter depression caused by lack of sunlight can be treated with Vit D supplementation.
Fact is that in low-sunlight areas the cancer rate is higher than in regions closer to the equator. Reason for that can be that lack of sunlight causes Vit D Deficiency. Studies have shown that Vitamin D can reduce the proliferation rate of cancer cells. This seems to effective in bowel cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer. However, further studies in this field are ongoing.
There are references that Vitamin D can effect the blood sugar positively. The Diabetes metabolism benefits significantly with Vitamin D.
Vitamin D could have protective effect on reducing vascular plaque development, therefore it would help prophylactically to reduce the risk for myocardial infarction and strokes.
During a pregnancy Vit D takes responsibility that the child is developing properly and that the mother is protected against gestational diabetes.
The hormonal regulation is dependent in many ways from Vitamin, which is a hormonal precursor. Here Vitamin D supports the Production of sexual hormones. Good Vitamin D supply is linked to adequate Testosteron production in men and can improve fertility in men and women.
Vit D against overweight:
In a study with overweight children it has been shown that the body mass index BMI is reduced, that body fat reduces and that blood fat parameters improve as soon as children are supplemented with Vitamin D.
A majority of people, not only in Europe but also in sunny countries like the UAE are Vitamin D Deficient. As a reasons for a persistent Vitamin D deficiency in the population can be seen the use of Sunscreen products, which are for logical reasons used to prevent skin cancer and sunburns. The used UV block unfortunately also blocks the Vit D production in the skin.
Fine dust and smog are reducing the amount of sunbeams significantly which reflect on the skin.
Some people rarely go outside. Years ago these have been the elderly people and chronic sick patients. Nowadays the youth belongs to this risk-group as they rarely spend time outside in the fresh air and gardens.
Cultural clothing with covered appearance avoids direct UV exposure.
Signs of Vitamin D Deficiency:
The signs of Vitamin D Deficiency are unfortunately not always clear. Susceptibility for infection, bone pain, skeletal deformities, Tiredness and Depression are just a few examples pointing out to this problem.
Who wants to be sure can make a simple blood test which can diagnose the blood level objectively. Then a treatment program can be adjusted.
General recommendations are daily dosages of 400 units Vit D3 for children up to one year and about 1000 Units for older children.
An overdosage is hardly possible, as liver and kidneys need to transform the Vit D into its active form. This will only be done if there is really need and demand, otherwise it stays inactive.
With Vitamin D supplements a deficiency situation can easily be treated. A variety of Vit D3 products are on the market to make supplementation easy for each group of age.