Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually an umbrella term for a group of vitamins. When we talk about vitamin D, we refer to the for us important Vitamin D3, cholecalciferol. 

Vitamin D is incredibly diverse and has many important roles in our body:

  • it enhances the absorption of calcium and phosphate from our food in the intestines
  • is involved with the production and integration of calcium and phosphate into our body
  • controls more than 200 genes in our human genome, many of which influence our predisposition for certain diseases. 
  • needed by our immune system. While more research is necessary to understand its role better, we know that it plays a role in our immune response. 

Vitamin D is vital for our body and overall health. 

  • Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis,  a demineralisation of our bones due to a lack of calcium. The uptakes of calcium is enhanced by vitamin D. 
  • Vitamin D supports muscle development and protects (within limits) against age-related muscle wasting.
  • Vitamin D may play an important role in the prevention of diseases of the brain and nervous system, including types of dementia or Morbus Parkinson.
  • Newer research shows a correlation between severe vitamin D deficiency and severe depression.
  • A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2019 showed that vitamin D reduces the mortality in cancer patients.
  • Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. 80-90% of our requirement is produced in our body when sunlight gets on our skin and triggers vitamin D synthesis. 

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. 80-90% of our requirement is produced in our body when sunlight gets on our skin and triggers vitamin D synthesis. 

The remaining 10-20% are taken up through nutrition. Vitamin D, in very small quantities, can be found in fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, including dairy products, cereals, and even flour.

Risk groups can be separated by the way of vitamin D uptake.

Lack of nutrition or absorption of vitamin D

  • Diets that exclude fish 
  • Vegan diet
  • Disturbances in absorption (for example inflammation or diseases of the digestive tract).
  • Disease with reduced fat-uptake (for example pancreas diseases)

Lack of sun-related vitamin D

As the majority of our Vitamin D comes from exposure to sunlight, risk groups include

  • people working in enclosed spaces (office workers, factory workers, students)
  • dark-skinned people living in North and Central Europe
  • older people
  • people confined to bed rest
  • people with chronic conditions
  • veiled women 
  • excessive use of sunscreen 

Recent research has revealed important data on vitamin D deficiency: the average European 40% have a lack of vitamin D, a further 13% suffer from a severe lack of vitamin D. Older people in geriatric homes are pretty much guaranteed to be Vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D supplements – yes or no?

With it being highly likely that over the winter months Vitamin D levels are too low, a blood check is not necessary before starting supplemental Vitamin D (unless you are in one of the risk groups)

No harm can be done taking vitamin D supplements in a dosage of between 800-4000 units/day during the winter months. Any higher dosages should be discussed with a medical professional before starting treatment. 

Buy your Vitamin D supplement as a medicine rather than as a nutritional supplement: medicines are much tighter controlled and you are guaranteed to get the units that are supposed to be in the package according to the label.

Posted on October 02, 2019 by Luitgard Holzleg

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