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Vitamin D is a key element to our health. So far the benefits of vitamin D are known to strengthen bones. However it has now been discovered that almost all organs and tissues are receptors of vitamin D, this being the only vitamin with long-term effects on the metabolic processes of the intestine, brain, heart, pancreas, skin, lymphocytes, etc.
Therefore, the contribution of vitamin D is not only essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, but it is also crucial to prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases.
A lack of this vitamin in children could lead to rickets by symptoms such as poor growth, delayed development of teeth, weakness, softened skull in infants and bone deformities that are irreversible.
In fact, this vitamin is so important that several studies have shown that vitamin D appears to also meet anti-aging functions: people with high levels of this vitamin have longer telomeres than people with less amount of it at the same age.
Which are vitamin D functions in the organism?
Vitamin D is involved in multiple functions and metabolic processes of the organism, among which include:
- The formation of bones, teeth and joints
- The supply control intestinal calcium
- Maintain a healthy immune system and prevent infections
- The synthesis of endogenous antibiotics
- Keep the muscles in optimum performance
- Normal cell division
- Reducing inflammation in the body
- Hormonal balance
- Reducing oxidative stress
- Optimal signal transmission
- Inner serenity and sleep quality
- Better adaptation to stressful situations
- Better mental performance
- Greater vitality and level of care
Vitamin D, the shield
According to a study by the University of Oxford, the genes of any part of the body need to receive the proper amount of vitamin D to prevent the onset of disease. Our genes need vitamin D to function normally.
Lack of vitamin D can cause serious illness. The reason that vitamin D is the key to our health is because it is part of our genetic information.
Clinical studies show that lack of vitamin D3 is linked to many serious disorders.
Por ese motivo, la vitamina D se considera como un escudo de prevención natural contra:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Bone diseases (including rickets)
- Bone pain and back
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic inflammation
- Immune system disorders
- Muscular weakness
- Joint diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurological disorders and Alzheimer
Vitamin D against colds
Low levels of vitamin D increase more than 40% the risk of colds in the airways. This data was verified with the evaluation of 19,000 people, on average, it had vitamin 25 (OH) vitamin D3 value of 10 to 29 ng / ml.
The relationship was particularly evident in patients with asthma. However, the researchers could not conclude precisely on the concrete mechanism of this action, so it could not automatically ensure that the reduction of colds obey to taking supplements of vitamin D.
Vitamin D reduces the risk of suffering diabetes
Vitamin D protects producing beta cells in the pancreas insulin. Also increases sensitivity to insulin. With the help of vitamin D sugar it can be transported much more quickly from the blood into cells. So, in general, the risk of developing diabetes is reduced.
Vitamin D strengthens the bones
Vitamin D is responsible for ensuring that calcium absorption by the body through the intestine. Vitamin D, along with calcium and vitamin K2 plays a key role in bone metabolism, particularly in the formation of new bone and the formation of a solid bone structure. Consequently, the lack of vitamin D may increase the risk of osteoporosis or have broken bones.
Vitamin D activates brain functioning
People with high levels of vitamin D can concentrate better, they have a higher level of care and greater speed in processing information versus patients deficient in vitamin D. This finding by researchers at Britain's University of Manchester was reached in a European study of 3,000 men aged between 40-79 years of age.
Vitamin D guarantees stronger muscles
The lack of vitamin D can lead to reduced muscle weakness or muscle function. Vitamin D deficiency also cause an increased risk of fractures due to increased risk of further falls.
Studies show that older people with low levels of vitamin D have a higher risk of falling than those who have an adequate level of vitamin D in the blood. Taking a dietary supplement of vitamin D decreases to 22% the risk of suffering a bone fracture due to a fall.
Vitamin D deficiency also has a negative effect on the weakness of the quadriceps and thigh muscles as well as a decrease in muscle performance, response time and poor posture, all due to muscle weakness.
Vitamin D against cancer
Vitamin D regulates a variety of genetic functions that help reduce cell proliferation. In fact, many studies indicate that high levels of vitamin D in the blood can reduce the risk of developing various cancers, such as colorectal cancer or breast cancer, up to 40 or 50 percent.
It is thought that vitamin D acts against the degeneration of cells and tumor formation. Even taking small amounts of vitamin D (400 IU) can reduce the risk of breast cancer by up to 24 percent.
A study focused on the geographical location found a correlation between certain types of cancer and the specific temperature in each zone, based on the lack of sun or sun exposure of those affected.
Vitamin D supplements recommended in the following situations:
- When you have a vitamin D deficiency
- To maintain normal blood Nieles vitamin D: 25 (OH)
- To prevent osteoporosis (loss of bone mass)
- To prevent osteoporosis in the elderly
- For those prone to depression
- To prevent rickets in children
- For people with high blood pressure
- For the prevention of some cancers, such as breast cancer, kidney cancer or colon cancer
- For the prevention and treatment of diseases of the airways
- For the prevention of autoimmune diseases
When are you likely to suffer from Vitamin D deficiency?
Vitamin D is not a typical vitamin. Most of the needs of vitamin D (80-90%) is needed by the body supposed to be delivered through the skin by absorption of sunlight (UVB). A much smaller portion is acquired through food.
Studies have shown that 70 to 90 percent of people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland suffer from vitamin D deficiency The reasons for this lack may be multiple, among the most common causes include:
- Not having enough sun exposure in the winter months: Depending on the latitude, 42a (height Rome), in many areas there is not enough sun during winter, so the body ends up having deficiency of vitamin D.
- Not having enough sun exposure during the summer months: Even a brief exposure to the sun, 15-20 minutes three times a week would be enough to have a normal level of vitamin D, most people do not follow this advice either for lack of time or means to do so, which means that not restocking the vitamin D supply the body needs in summer.
- Staying inside most of the day: There are many reasons that prevent people sunbathing: job duties, diseases, being bedridden or be too old to go out.
- Use sunscreen: A sun protection factor of 8 level and blocks the assimilation of vitamin D through the skin by 95%.
- Take enough vitamin D in the diet: Vegans are particularly at risk, since vitamin D is found mainly in fatty fish, milk and eggs.
- Elderly, sick or bedridden people: Older people are most of the time indoors and do not absorb vitamin D through food that is usually very limited.
- Vitamin D deficiency in their diet and obesity: Overweight people often do not usually sunbathe, and also have a reduced power, so its level of vitamin D decreases.
- Inadequate intake of vitamin D due to drugs and Diseases: For example, with celiac or Crohn's disease, show a reduction of vitamin D in the intestine.
- Dark skinned: Because melanin production of vitamin D in the skin is reduced. People with dark skin have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency if they do not stay in the sun long enough. Basically this means that the closer you live to Ecuador, the darker the skin type. In these cases it should take vitamin D as a dietary supplement for healthy levels of vitamin D, 25 (OH).
How to obtain the necessary amount of Vitamin D3
There are several ways to obtain D3:
- By exposing the skin to sunlight for a sufficient period of time.
- Taking a dietary supplement of vitamin D3.
- Some foods contain vitamin D3 naturally. But usually the amount in food is too low to meet the needs of vitamin D3. People consume only 80 to 160 IU (2-4 mcg) of vitamin D through food. The oil from different fish is one of the food products that contains Vitamin D. Among the most vitamin D rich food, we may find catfish, salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna or eels. We may also find it in eggs, mushrooms or dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk). It is very common to find on the market products that have been enriched with Vitamin D, this is often the case with margarines, pastas, cereals, bread and even buns.
Vitamin D production through sunlight
The sun is the main source of vitamin D. By exposing the skin to UVB rays from the sun, vitamin D is formed in the body. This occurs especially during the summer and very quickly. Usually it takes half the time compared to getting brown skin. During this phase there is still risk of sunburn.
The amount of vitamin D that is formed depends on skin type, place of sun exposure, season, time of day, and the amount of the surface of the skin exposed to the sun. Age also plays an important role, because the older you are, the more difficulty you have to produce vitamin D in the skin.
During the summer months, and direct exposure of the skin to sunlight, swimsuit, without sunscreen and at noon, the body absorbs about 10,000 IU over a period of between 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type of skin. Sunbathing three times a week is usually sufficient to produce optimal amounts of vitamin D the body needs.
Even if it exceeds the time of sun exposure, no excess vitamin D is generated, since the production of vitamin D in the skin stops automatically with the formation of melanin.
People with dark skin should stay longer exposed to the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D than light-skinned people.
It is important to know that the production of vitamin D through the sun does not occur when a sunscreen is applied. A sun protection factor 8 blocks by 95% the production of vitamin D that are UVB rays. Therefore, if you want to acquire vitamin D, apply sunscreen after 10-20 minutes of sun exposure.
People who want to completely give up the sunscreen must remain exposed to the sun only while the skin does not redden. Once the skin begins to tan, time of sun exposure without sunscreen can be extended because the skin melanin acts as a natural sunscreen.
North of the 42nd parallel (north of Rome) the sun is not strong enough during the winter months to allow to pass UVB rays, necessary for the formation of vitamin D. A walk in winter often only exposes the face and hands the sun, and this is not enough to form adequate amounts of vitamin D. high levels of calcium in blood reduce the formation of vitamin D.
Vitamin D absorption in summer
It halved over the course of 2 months if the formation of vitamin D is not replenished by sunlight or food. Since the consumption of vitamin D content in foods it is not enough to meet the need for vitamin D the body, necessary to take full dietary vitamin D.
How vitamin D3 or D2 is obtained
Vitamin D comes in two different forms:
- As vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
- As vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol)
It is considered the active form, so it is included in most food supplements market.
Vitamin D3 is usually obtained from lanolin (wool fat sheep). But it is also contained in the oil cod liver. In this case, it should thus be indicated on the label.
If the label of vitamin D3 cholecalciferol figure usually comes from lanolin. It’s considered vegetarian as no animal suffers any damage during the manufacturing process, only sheared.
Recently it has been obtained vegetarian vitamin D3 from lichen extract.
This vitamin D herbal is as valuable as vitamin D3 and is becoming increasingly popular. Above all, it is much appreciated by vegans, who now have an alternative to vitamin D2.
Vitamin D3 represents the highest form of vitamin D. Studies have shown that is 1.7 times more effective than vitamin D2 to increase levels of vitamin D, 25 (OH) in the body.
It is contained mainly in fungi. It exists as ergosterol, as a function of provitamin D. Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is produced in the skin under the influence of ultraviolet rays.
Vitamin D: capsules, tablets, drops,... What’s the best for you?
If you want to buy a vitamin D, you can find it in different formats: tablets, tablets or drops.
Here is a summary of vitamin D supplements available on the market:
Vitamin D capsules
Vitamin D capsules are filled with loose powder, and can not be compacted under high pressure, as with the tablets. Vitamin D capsules dissolve in a few minutes in the stomach completely and, therefore, ensure rapid absorption of vitamin D.
Be sure to buy capsules of vitamin D3 that do not contain dyes or other additives, such as lactose.
Although the capsules are quite small, sometimes there are people who can not swallow. In this case you can open the content and dissolve directly into the water. The powder has a neutral taste.
Vitamin D tablets
Vitamin D tablets are also a very common dosage form. However, they have the disadvantage that often contain other unwanted ingredients, such as magnesium stearate, silicon, sucrose, talc dioxide, etc.
Vitamin D drops
Vitamin D drops usually contain oil vitamin D, a base oil, such as olive oil, hemp oil, safflower oil or sunflower oil and vitamin E as an antioxidant. Sometimes he adds a fruity to taste. However, this is not necessary because the oil has a vitamin D fatty but completely neutral taste.
Vitamin D drops are useful because you can easily increase the dose if necessary. Vitamin D drops are available in doses of 200 IU to 5000 IU per drop.
Vitamin D softgels
Vitamin D softgels are filled with oil and vitamin D they are relatively easy to swallow. As is the case with vitamin D drops, usually they contain no additives. However, the capsule shell itself is usually gelatin, so this vitamin D supplement can not be used by vegetarians or vegans.
Vitamin D in sticks
The vitamin D sticks are very practical because they can be taken anywhere. They can also carry different flavors, so are the favorite of children. On the other hand, you have to read the label to see if they carry unwanted additives.
The sticks of vitamin D are more expensive than other forms of vitamin D because of servings per container.
Combined preparations of vitamin D and vitamin K2
Those who take vitamin D regularly as a dietary supplement should always be combined with vitamin K2. Only in this way can you ensure that calcium absorbed by vitamin D3 is stored in bones and not deposited in the arteries, which could cause atherosclerosis.
Therefore, the ideal is to opt for a product that combines vitamin D and vitamin K2. When choosing a product of this type you must ensure that vitamin D contained is natural and from lanolin or lichen, and also natural vitamin K2, such as MK-7.
When you’re buying vitamin D supplementation, you must know:
- The format of vitamin D: You know if you prefer vitamin D3, lanolin or vitamin D3 vegan, lichen.
- The dose of vitamin D: You must adapt to your current needs and allow for flexible dosing. Do you want to take 2000 IU daily, or two capsules of 1000 IU?
- Composition: The product must contain the lowest possible additives.
- Combination with vitamin K2: Ideally combined with a product containing vitamin K2 as MK-7. If you do not find the whole product, you must combine them separately.
Vitamin D conversion of mcg to UI
The conversion rate is 1:40. Accordingly one mcg (micrograms) of vitamin D3 corresponds to 40 IU (international units) or UI.
Here are some examples:
- 5 mcg of vitamin D is equivalent to 200 IU
- 25 mcg equivalent to 1000 IU
- 125 mcg equivalent to 5000 IU
- 250 mcg equivalent to 10000 IU
Experts on Vitamin D
Experts from the universities of Carolina and California state that patients who regularly consume vitamin D are less likely to develop cancer. They have also highlighted the beneficial effects of vitamin D on the muscles and bones.